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Cliczune Archives: November 2008


No Place Like Zune For the Holidays

Christmastree When it is time for some holiday shopping, most of us around here would much rather get some electronics rather than a necktie.  An audio player of some sort is a "must have" item for any gadget fan, and an up to date one with a really large capacity is my personal preference.  While it is hard to believe that I'm coming up on my year anniversary of owning a Zune 80 gig, I'm still intrigued to see what players are being recommended this year for music lovin' holiday shoppers.

I spotted this piece today in The Washington Times.  Topping their list, was, you guessed it, the Zune. They mention that there are both flash and hard drive models available, and that the Zune is "nice and affordable," which makes it kind of the girl next door that you don't think of while fawning after some cheerleader.  At least the paragraph does mention the Zune's strong points: WiFi music sharing (which they got wrong and characterized as streaming), and the all-you-can-eat music pass, which they are out of date and didn't mention the latest iteration to keep a generous 10 tracks a month.

While their details are a little less than accurate, I do agree that the Zune should top any holiday shopper's list.

Zune Phone Details

Sidekick3dwade Even during the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, details are emerging about the Zune Phone.  Well, actually, they could be more accurately described as rumors, but they're intriguing nonetheless.  For starters, this project apparently has a code name, and the Zune Phone is code named "Pink," for whatever it's worth.  Also of interest is that the device will likely combine the tech already found in the Zune, with the team from Danger, Inc.  And who exactly are these folks with Danger right in their name?  You may recall that these are the folks that brought us another teen electronics hit, T-Mobile's Sidekick phone/text messaging device that some of my family members are addicted to heavy users of.

Another rumor is that it will be powered by an nVidia Tegra chip.  This is noteworthy because this is a "system on a chip" design that will put nVidia into the mobile phone marketplace.  Reportedly these chips are designed for 3D effects (not surprising coming from a graphics company).  Also of note, they were designed to offer an advantage to an iPhone competitor.  I also saw that the Tegra was originally supposed to debut in a product at the end of 2008 which would fit the timeline of what we're talking about (adding in the obligatory Microsoft delay of a few more months).  Also, the Tegra has not debuted in any other products to date.

So, after looking at these fragments of a rumor, I still have one question.  How do you dial a phone with a squircle?

Zune Phone Rumors Return...Again!

Img_3983_microsoftzunephoneinlineth The Zune Phone, popularly known as the zPhone, is one of those concept projects that seems to make a semiannual surfacing into the blogosphere.  While the idea is hardly new, and it's been repeatedly denied here and here at the highest levels from folks that would know what products are under development, I suppose we're due for yet another go around.

In many minds, including mine, the idea of an reasonable competitor to the iPhone is simply too compelling.  I also doubt that the expected sales of the T-Mobile G1, the so called gPhone, even hobbled by the T-Mobile network (I've got more than enough experience with their lackluster coverage that I'm not just being critical), passed by the top brass of the Microsoft folks without some interest.  I'm sure they would love to get a piece of that monthly subscription action, and while there are already Windows Mobile Phones, a zPhone just might break their M$ corporate image and hype up the cool factor to appeal to a younger crowd.

Will we see one at CES like this article suggests?  I'm not holding my breath for this January, but sooner or later I do see the zPhone coming to market.  This time around, the rumor is going as far as CNBC which is further than it got last time.

The Guild Comes To Zune

Microsoft is focusing on wider distribution of their content across multiple partners.  Today we're learning one example of this: The Guild.  This is an online video series that focuses on the real lives of virtual players of a fantasy MMO.  It is coming to both the XBox Live Marketplace, and Zune platforms.  The jury is out if this will buy them more cool, or just more geek, but I think they'll take the sales either way.

Best Buy Canada offering 4GB Zune for free with purchase of a 16GB Zune

Zune_logo_250_2 Best Buy Canada currently has a pretty nice offer going on the Zune -- buy a Zune 16 and get a Zune 4 for free. The Zune 16 is retailing for $179.99 and looks to only be available in black, but that aside it sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

A few items to note is that this offer is valid online only and (at the time of this posting) is showing a quantity remaining of 76. According to the Best Buy details, you simply need to add the black Zune 16 to your cart and the Zune 4 will be added automatically.

Sounds like a good deal to me, pick up a nice Zune for yourself, and get a nice extra for nothing. This would surely convince me to add a Zune to my collection, that is if I lived in Canada.

[Best Buy Canada]

Zune "Not the Endgame?"

Zunesoftware1 Hmm.  I always thought that that the point of designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling any product, was to well, sell the err, product, right?  Well, apparently I missed that day in business school, because that may not always be the case. 

Take the Zune for example.  One analysis is viewing the physical Zune player as merely a way for Microsoft to promote their sales of entertainment via the Zune Marketplace.  Their analysis focuses on how Microsoft is focusing on promoting their latest Zune software rather than the player itself.  This also has implications on where content will come from for both the Xbox platform, and Windows Media Player.

While it brings up an interesting point, I think we should remember that it took quite a while before folks were loading up their iPods from the iTunes store.  In other words, the player sales need to come first before the content sales.  IMHO, Microsoft should focus on moving the Zune units first, and then, now that the Zune Marketplace is offering such an enticing deal, I have no doubt that the sales will follow.

New Zune Advertising Campaign

No sooner does Crispin get the go ahead to remake the Zune ads to try and ratchet up the cool factor (not to mention the Zune price cuts), but we're already seeing the theme of the new advertising.  Hey, around here we all knew that the Zune is the way to go, however, I have to say that the marketing was underselling the product IMHO.  This new ad campaign is showing off the Zune as a "Music Discovery Machine," and invite folks to download the new 3rd gen software (which I have installing as I type this, gotta love dual core processors)!  With the social aspect of the Zune one of the main selling point, I'm glad to see that they are finally doing a better job of getting the message out.

Zune Pass: Your ten free track questions answered

Zunelogo_2It seems that the 10 free song announcement brought forth plenty of questions, and with that comes answers. To begin with, and perhaps most important is that your Zune Pass is not really changing, you will still have everything you had before, just now you are also able to download and keep 10 tracks for free every month.

These tracks, unlike AT&T's rollover minutes are use or lose. Meaning, you cannot download 20 tracks next month if you forget to get your 10 this month. So write a post-it or set a reminder in your calendar, just don't forget.

To begin downloading your free music, simply right click on your track of choice and select Buy or Add to Cart. Your Zune Pass account will keep track of how many you have currently downloaded and let you know when you have hit your monthly limit.

Now for perhaps the nicest part, most of the tracks will be DRM-free and in MP3 format, this of course does not mean that you will not get a WMA file from time to time. Currently about 90% of the Zune Marketplace is available in DRM-free MP3 format, so your chances are pretty good. As for those downloaded tracks, they can then be enjoyed on your Zune, and you can even burn them to a CD, just like you are able to with any other purchased music.

Hopefully this will answer some of the questions that were surrounding this offer, it all sounds good to me -- especially the file format! Now its time to begin choosing my first 10 free tracks. Any ideas?

Zune Pass users can now keep 10 Marketplace tracks every month

Zune_pass_450

Beginning today, Zune Pass users will have another great reason to enjoy the service. They will now get to keep (forever!) 10 tracks every month from the Marketplace. Not a bad deal, this would be like getting around $10 worth of free music each month, all for the same $14.99. Sounds like a great deal for any current subscriber, and also a great tipping point for those that were still considering signing up for a Zune Pass.

An important item to point out is that these 10 tracks cannot be rolled over month-to-month, meaning you need to download your 10 tracks every month or you will miss out that month.

So where to begin, with so many tracks to choose from its going to be hard to make up my mind. Well, it seems that the Zune Team has thought of that, and to help make up your mind they have added a new collection called “perfect 10s,” which are "10 must-have tracks in each of the most popular genres." In addition they will also offer “fresh picks," which are "ten tracks from the best new releases each week."

[Zune Insider]

Time to update; Zune 3.1 is now available

Zunelogo_2 If you have not already updated, now may be a good time as Zune 3.1 is now available. The new update includes a few time wasters that come in the form of games -- an update to Texas Hold 'Em along with three new ones which include Checkers, Sudoku and Space Battle.

Of course there are more important items than just playing games, and 3.1 also includes some "incremental improvements to the software" which include an increase in overall stability and performance on both the PC software and device. Additionally, some navigation improvements were made to the Zune Social and a new feature called “like minded listeners” was added.

As always, to get the update, launch your Zune software on your PC and under the Settings category simply click Check for Updates.

[Zune Insider]