Microsoft has introduced three new customizable variants of its Zune personal entertainment devices: the Zune 80GB, with a 3.2 inch screen and in-ear noise-isolating headphones, Zune 4GB and 8GB. The software giant has also launched a new Zune player with software and online services including the Zune Marketplace and Zune Social, an online music community.
Zune was originally introduced by Microsoft to compete with Apple’s iPod in September 2006. According to Reuters, 1.2 million Zune players have been sold compared to 100 million iPods since its launch in 2001.
Microsoft proposed to provide its customers with an option to customize their Zune player with laser-engraved designs and personal text through a new web store called the Zune Originals, which was launched on November 12, 2007. On the Zune Originals website, customers can choose their Zune variant (80GB, 8GB or 4GB), pick a color and then select a design and the desired text.
Customers will be able to purchase these devices online and choose from a collection of artist series. Customers will need to subscribe to a pass and will gain access to songs for a subscription fee of $14.99 per month.
The Zune player will include wireless synchronization and sharing, a built-in FM tuner, and a color screen to display music, pictures, videos and podcasts. Microsoft will also provide free upgrade to existing Zune owners. Microsoft claims that Zune software can import recorded content from Microsoft Windows Media Center.
Zune brings music discovery and acquisition into one simple, end-to-end solution, and the addition of unique customization options puts the originality back into portable entertainment, said J Allard, corporate vice president for Zune at Microsoft.
The Zune 80GB player will be sold at $249.99 and the other two variants Zune 4GB and 8GB will be priced at $149.99 and $199.99, respectively. The player and its accessories will be sold by retailers whereas the software will be available for free download from its website.
In October 2007, Microsoft launched a limited-edition version of Zune, produced in collaboration with Latin Grammy-nominated artists Wisin y Yandel, Machete Music and Wal-Mart Stores. This was sold for a retail price of $199 exclusively at Wal-Mart.
Source: ComputerWire daily updates