Microsoft has new Zune music players to take on iPods

Robert Dow

Microsoft Corp. is introducing a series of Zune digital media players that for the first time will compete with the most popular iPod, the Nano.
Microsoft, which rolled out its first portable player, the 30-GB Zune, last year, is extending the line with an 80-GB Zune. In the latest stab at Apple’s lead in the market, it also is unveiling a smaller, cheaper 4-GB and 8-GB Zune, directly rivaling Apple Inc.‘s iPod Nano, which also comes with 4-GB and 8-GB storage capacities. Available next month, the new Zunes will cost $149.99 to $249.99.

I always like to see the heavyweights step into the ring with each other. But this tilt seems more like a Tyson vs. Spinks match-up rather than a classic Ali Vs. Frazier. To cut into Apple’s 70% market share one would think Microsoft would have to either come up with a product so innovative that it becomes a “have-to-have” item or hit a price point that Apple can’t reach or give away about a million free songs. None of which the Zune is offering. At $149.99 and $249.99 The new Zune is even more expensive than the iPod Nanos of the same storage capacity.  Maybe Microsoft is counting on a self-inflicted Vista-esqu implosion from our friends in Cupertino. Speaking of which …—CRD