Right from the early development days of Zune, Microsoft’s digital media player was positioned as an iPod killer. Launched at the end of 2006, Zune managed to live to the modest expectations the company had set, namely 1 million devices sold by mid 2007. But at the same time, the Redmond company revealed that it was on the portable media player market for the long haul, and as such did not seek immediate success against Apple‘s iPod.
The end of 2007 brought with it Zune 2.0, on the heels of Apple‘s new line-up of iPods. The move from Zune 1.0 to 2.0 was evolutionary and not a response to the Cupertino-based hardware company’s new devices. Microsoft introduced a new Zune with an 80GB traditional hard drive, but also two new Flash-based versions. A few months later, Robert J. Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices Division, during his keynote at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, revealed that the new Zunes were indeed an alternative to what Apple had to offer.
“The new versions of Zune that came out this fall are doing very, very well. We’ve had fabulous response to the product in reviews, and I think it’s quite clear we’re becoming the clear alternative to the iPod. With capabilities like subscriptions, Wi-Fi, and a social experience we think we can differentiate ourselves in this space, and we think there’s plenty of opportunity for that market to grow”, Bach stated.
Microsoft added that, as a direct consequence of Zune’s success in the United States, the device would also be made available on other markets. And for starters, in the spring of 2008, the Redmond company will start offering Zune in Canada, while looking for additional expansion opportunities in the future. As of yet, there is still no word from Microsoft as to what market they might debut Zune after Canada, but Europe is simply the next logical step.
“I will say that music is inherently a social experience, and we want to build on that social experience. And that’s why we introduced this concept called Zune Social. Now, Zune Social is in beta right now. It has about 1.5 million people who have tried the service out initially. (…) We’re being very innovative in the approach to Zune and bringing new social experiences”, Batch added.
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