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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.


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Can Microsoft Buy Cool For Zune?

Cs_best_of_cool_john_01 As much as I like the Zune player, I can fully admit that they've done a lousy job marketing it.  While Apple incessantly advertises on television shows that younger folks flock to, like "Gossip Girl" and "90210" currently, I have yet to see an ad for any Zune player on TV- ever.  Clearly this is a missed opportunity because without the right marketing campaign, the Zune product line will never succeed in gaining market share.

At any rate, my personal opinion aside, apparently Microsoft has come to a similar conclusion, and has hired a new advertising company for the Zune line.  Taking the responsibility of getting the word out will be Crispin Porter & Bogusky.  These folks will take on managing the $41 million of marketing media that Microsoft threw into Zune last year.  Hopefully, Microsoft's music player, a worthy competitor to any other music player on the market, will finally get a piece of the elusive "cool factor" that has eluded them thus far.  Can I recommend some product placement among the elite NYC teens on "Gossip Girl?"


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Zune 120 gets unofficial $249 pricing

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UPDATE: Here are the latest news related to the Zune 120:

This latest bit of information comes, assuming we can believe this latest listing (screenshot above) on the B&H Photo website, and has the upcoming 120GB Zune being priced at an affordable $249.95.

Currently the Zune 120 is being listed just in black. So far we have seen the FCC approval with further conformation coming from Cesar Menendez. The pricing seems to be legitimate, of course this has not been confirmed, so lets not get disappointed if it changes. Of course, at least at the time of this screenshot, B&H seems to be taking orders, however they are not listing any availability date.

In addition, just to add further speculation of a quick launch for the Zune 120, another tip which comes courtesy of a "Wal-Mart worker" is claiming that they (Wal-Mart) have discontinued the Zune 4 and Zune 80. According to the worker, both models are being listed as NRPL, which is better known as non-replenishable. Of course, and again this has not been officially confirmed however it does fit in with the recent Zune 120 and Zune 16 findings.

All in all it looks like we may have some new options when it comes to the Zune in the not to distant future.


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In the wild style images surface, include recently approved Zune 120...with a Zune 16

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Some recently surfaced in-the-wild style images, and by that we of course mean slightly blurry images have surfaced online showing off a few new models of the Zune. Of course that recently confirmed 120GB Zune is included, but that comes with little surprise considering that we have recently seen the FCC approval and gotten further confirmation from Cesar Menendez, but perhaps more important is that the images also included a new flash based Zune, which is 16GB.

A release date has still not been mentioned, but we can only hope that both models will become available soon, if nothing else in time for the holiday season. Based on the images it seems that (at least) the 120GB model will be getting a slight makeover with a new black backing. While these images seem authentic enough, we do have to remind you, that at this time they have not been officially confirmed.

Continue on to check out the rest of the new Zune images...

[Zunited]

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Microsoft gets political, unveil special edition Republican and Democrat themed Zunes

Zunelogo_2 Microsoft has offered up some political themed Zunes for both the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions. Based on the images these appear to be only available in the 4GB model, and each feature a unique design on the back, as well as unique packaging.

The Zune for the Republican National Convention is red, while the model for the Democratic National Convention is an olive green. Both models feature packaging the reads;

"At Microsoft, we are committed to software and technology innovations that help people and organizations around the world improve their environment. Our goal is to reduce the impact of our operations and products, and to be a leader in environmental responsibility."

While I am personally a Zune user and a Zune fan, I do find it a little strange that they are handing out a product that the recipients may or may not even want and are stating how they want to "reduce the impact of our operations and products." We can only hope that if they are truly living up to that statement that these will be given to those that wanted one and not just tossed at everyone.

[Gizmodo]

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Cesar Menendez adds further confirmation of the upcoming Zune 120

120gb_zune_fcc Of course, we have already seen the FCC approval come in, which typically means that we will see a production model hit the market in the future, but still, its always nice to get some additional confirmation.

So after the FCC image made its way around the blogosphere, Cesar Menendez was kind enough to come forward with the following statement;

"You've probably all seen about 120GB @the FCC- and just wanted to send you a note to confirm that is indeed part of the plan. There's definitely more details coming in the way of new software and hardware, pricing etc."

Basically he has confirmed that there will be a 120GB model Zune, along with some new software coming in the future, however was are still unsure of any further details or pricing. We have heard of a rumored release in November 2008, but as of now it is nothing more than a rumor. Lets just hope the new Zune 120 will be priced competitively.

Any current Zune users looking to upgrade? Personally I have been more than happy with my Zune 80 and most likely will hold off.

[ZuneThoughts]


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Robbie Bach interviewed: No Zune phone coming, but possibility of touchscreen Zune in the future

Zunelogo Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president for entertainment and devices was recently interviewed by the SFGate and dropped some interesting tidbits of information touching a wide variety of Microsoft products.

First off, the fabled Zune phone is just not going to happen, commenting that “we don't make phones ourselves. We don't have any plans to make phones ourselves.” But was also quick to point out that the Zune is more than just a product, but instead a platform which means we could see it integrated into other Microsoft products in the future. So while we may not be getting a Zune phone, we may be able to get a version of the Zune software on a Windows Mobile based phone. Bach even went as far as stating that "the Windows Mobile Team has even asked how Zune could work better with Windows Mobile."

Next up was dealing with what we may be getting in the future in terms of the Zune itself. There was not much to sum up here, as he stated it very clearly, so I will let his words speak for themselves.

“Take the device independent for a second and just assume that over time where there's a screen, touch will be part of it. It's not going to matter what the product line is. You're going to see it be a cornerstone of the work we do.”

So, based on this interview it seems pretty clear that Microsoft has no major announcement in the works for tomorrow in an attempt at stealing some of Apple's thunder, but it does give us Zune fans something to look forward to in the future. I for one would love to see a Zune Touch.

Bach also covered a variety of other topics to include further debunking the recent rumor about a Blu-ray drive coming for the Xbox 360. Head on over to SFGate.com to check out the rest of the interview.

[SFGate]


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Zune Christmas Sales Spike Zune.net Traffic

HitwisezunenetOne possible measure of how well Zune sales did this holiday season can be seen in new Zune.net traffic figures announced by online metrics service Hitwise. The firm noted a significant jump in Zune.net traffic on Christmas day.

Hitwise reported a "299 percent" jump in traffic on the Zune Web site on Christmas day. This is compared to traffic the same time last year. The research firm speculated the spike in traffic was related to new Zune owners visiting the site to sign up for new accounts and download software.

It was also mentioned "the market share of visits to Zune.net showed an increase of 392 percent" when comparing visitors from the day prior to Christmas.


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PC World Puts Zune in Disappointments Article

PcworldPrint media doesn't seem to be that favorable to the Zune right now as they publish their year end gadget lists. First Popular Mechanics bashes Microsoft's player in its Worst Gadgets of 2007 article. Now comes the freshly published 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007 from venerable publication PC World and yes, you guessed it, the Zune makes the list.

PC World ranked the Zune number 11 in its countdown, titling the section Singing an Old Familiar Zune. The magazine does give the Zune some good marks, but mainly knocks the player for Microsoft's failure to "lose the Zune's proprietary DRM scheme or remove all its restrictions on wireless music sharing."

Doesn't it seem to have become a common theme to bash the Zune despite it getting better reviews in generation 2.0? Is it a thing against Microsoft in general or is there just a common theme that the iPod will always be better than anything else out there?


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Zune Continues to Show Strong Holiday Interest

ZunecybermondayInterest in the Microsoft Zune continues to be a growing topic as we progess through the early days of holiday sales. As we earlier reported, the Zune saw a lot of sales and curiosity seekers on Black Friday. Now, come Cyber Monday, we find interest continues to remain high as some sites report back on weekend traffic and others report on Zune trends in general.

First off, it seems as if the Zune did well on shopping sites like Yahoo Shopping and eBay. Yahoo reported the brown Zune was in the top ten products from the holiday weekend. eBay added that the Zune placed high among consumer electronics sales on its auction site, with close to 30 80GB players going "for an average selling price of $326.57."

Hitwise, a Internet metrics firm, meanwhile reported that for Cyber Monday specifically it saw the Microsoft Zune break into the top ten searches in the last week, coming in as the fith most searched product. Cyber Monday traffic in general increased 26 percent this year, with Amazon taking the honors as the most visited Web retail site.


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