iPod vs Zune
Microsoft has officially announced its Zune HD, setting the launch date for Sep 15. Next, we hear Apple plans a music-related keynote event for the week of Sep seven. I forecast next month’s Apple keynote will be all about the iPod, since that’s been the company’s modus operandi latterly for September keynotes.
Last year Apple introduced a refreshed iPod Nano ; the year before that, in Sep , Apple launched the iPod Touch. In 2006 Cupertino gave us a refurbished iPod line and a preview at Apple Television ( then known as iTV ). Sure, Apple’s latest keynote might include the first public appearance of Steve Roles since the Apple Head honcho took time off for health reasons, and I suppose it’s possible the rumoured Apple tablet could show up. But the pressure will be on Apple to discuss iPod inventions and how it will clobber Zune in the purchaser marketplace.
The iPod, once Apple’s golden kid, is now growing more unimportant to its consumers and to Apple’s bottom line. Check our story Is Apple’s iPod Dying — And Does Apple Care? Two giant expectancies for the most recent iPod refresh include a camera for the iPod Touch, and a new version of iTunes. An iPod Touch rocking a 2 or 3MP camera — the current specs for cameras on the iPhone 3G and 3GS respectively — definitely would give the device a boost over the Zune HD, but Microsoft’s less expensive ticket could assure some to forget about the camera in favor of a tolerably priced Zune.
Then again, that price advantage may not last long if John Gruber’s rumour is true. Yesterday, the Daring Fireball asserted Apple would be refurbishing the iPod Touch by introducing 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB camera-equipped models to replace the present 16GB and 32GB iPod Touch devices now available. Pricing for the new iPod Touches would be $199, $299, and $399 respectively, according to Gruber, versus the Zune HD’s 16GB version at $220 and 32GB model at $290. So much for the Zune’s price advantage. But the Zune HD won’t go down without a fight, and there’s another fresh rumour — thanks to Gruber once more — that Microsoft is asking third party iPhone application developers to bring their software onto the Zune. Gruber announces he was made contact with by an iPhone developer who said Microsoft offered the independent software maker “a bucket of money” to port his app onto the Zune.
For who knows what reason the developer turned Microsoft down. If Gruber’s source is correct then apps, at least in some form, could be part of the Zune HD’s future. That’s not an extraordinary move considering the success of the iTunes App Store. Besides, putting apps on the Zune HD would only put Microsoft 2 steps behind the rumored iPod Touch refresh. To catch up to Apple, all Redmond would do then is drop its costs a bit and slap a camera onto the Zune HD.