All about the holidays and shopping with Zune

Mar 072007
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There is an interesting Zune rumor just getting started and although we don’t normally jump on rumors so fast this one is to good to pass. Seems Gizmodo heard a rumor (that we are helping to spread) that the second generation Zune player will be a Zune gaming device and I’m ever hopeful it turns out to be true. I’ll go ahead and contribute to the web echo because I believe this one may play out. A gaming device is just what Zune needs to put them on the front of the portable market with a music video and gaming device on the platform and the phone on the way. The Xbox community is the largest asset Microsoft has in building the Zune family of devices and a gaming device is just what Zune needs to create that crossover into the Live service and the  existing community. A Microsoft game player will certainly be accepted by the fan base even if it’s not labeled under the Xbox family won’t it?

Rumor Overheard at GDC: Next-Gen Zune Available in August – Gizmodo

Apparently, if the person was correct and our ears didn’t fail us, the next-gen Zune will be available in August. Unfortunately for the first-gen Zune team, the next version will feature gaming, which is supposedly making them feel dejected over working on a product (1st gen) that will be “abandoned”.

It might be a rumor but just like Giz says it’s a juicy one because it has apparently earned this response from the Zune Release Manager who says that they will not be abandoning the first generation devices which is of course a good thing and easy to believe. I can’t think they would drop a new player on us this soon and not continue development or support for the first generation players. They have barely tapped the potential of this first player and there is much more to be done with it. Besides the list of features so many Zune users want there are issues with stability on some devices that must be dealt with fast. They can’t expect to attract new business when the first customers are having problems. It would also be suicide for the product line if they did abandon the first Zunes as no one would stick with them and Microsoft would have a hard time convincing new customers they would not do the same thing to them on future Zune players. He does not deny any second generation devices in the works or even mention them really. He goes on to say we can expect much more to come from the wireless capabilities in first generation players which is good to hear from the someone who should know.

Zune Insider : . . . And Now a Word from the Zune Release Manager

Some of the comments I read said things like “Microsoft is abandoning this generation of Zune,” but nothing could be further from the truth. We see Zune today as simply the baseline – not the endgame. That means we’re still planning on adding features to the existing platform just like MS has done with the XBOX platform (recall that Xbox Live was not part of the initial v1 launch but was added later), plus the fact that Zune has wireless which can make the potential very interesting. Stay tuned to Cesar’s blog for more on this as it develops.

I have noticed a bit of traffic building up for keywords such as “zune games” and zune game player which we apparently rank #1 for on Google. I think most of those searching for zune games are looking for games to play on the existing players. The number of searches for game player is nowhere near that of games alone but both are growing quicly. There’s been quite a bit of traffic for it and our page needs some updating but it’s nice to know so many people are looking for a Zune game player cause we’re ready for it. The rumor claims the Zune game player release date is in August which lines it up for this Holiday Season coming and that would probably put a Zune Phone out in time for Holidays 2008.

So what do you think a Zune game player should be? What do you think it will be? Honestly ever since I though about a portable Xbox game player or what was dubbed the Xboy I saw it as a slightly larger version of the Original Xbox controller with a fold up screen top and center. I had the green Halo version of the first Xbox and for some reason I see the player as that. I guess it’s because it’s an obvious fit to existing players as well and using the same design as the existing Xbox controllers will make the game player more acceptable to Xboxers. Drop me a comment and tell me what you would like to see in the Zune game player or drop by the forums and leave your opinion.

Will they still be adding games to the existing players? I think so. They need Zune to be a better value than the iPod and the continued development and a steady release of enhanced features for first generation players will create a greater interest in Zune players and boost sales. The more players sold the more possible subscribers to the Zune Pass and the subscription service is what they want us all using. The Zune Pass is great but being stuck with a subscription does feel like you’re wasting money when you’re not using your player all the time. I’ve found myself leaving my Zune off for a few days and even up to a week recently as I’ve been busy with other things and when I pick it back up and have to sync it because the subscriptions expired I wonder if it’s such a great deal. Then of course I cruise through my library of music and create a new playlist with some fresh new music on the next sync and the convenience of the a la carte menu and unlimited downloads reminds me of why I pay $15 a month for music now.

Zune MarketPlace is nice and I’m hoping they will continue to build on it. I’m looking forward to movie downloads at some point in the future. The Zune marketplace has some great features and the search functions are pretty handy. The live search is really cool and pretty fast although the site seems bogged down on occasion. It’s usually much smoother and the Zune software is better than the iTunes software in my opinion but Apple does have the podcast directory full of free content which seems so huge. Podcasting is huge and ready to explode as more people get online and the convenience of personal broadcasts reached more people. I doubt Microsoft will ever be able to catch up to them when they barely seem to recognize the importance of proper podcast support. Zune firmware 1.3 is scheduled for roll out soon and the update will not offer anything for podcasts and my guess is it will be Firmware 1.5 before we get full podcast support on Zunes. What exactly full support for Zune means to Microsoft remains to be seen.

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Zune Phone in the works according to

Feb 022007
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According to a tipster at our friends at Microsoft are hard at work on the Zune Phone. Of course they are just beginning development and we should not expect to see it until sometime next year but rumor has it we may be able to expect it in time for Holidays 2007 which seems kinda rushed to me but who knows how long they have been working on it anyway.

I’m excited about what a Zune phone will bring to the market and I’m hopeful they address some of the obviou8s issues with iPhone including storage capacity and pricing. I think $500 puts the iPhone outside of the reach of many consumers and I would like to see the Zune phone come in at a lesser price point. Of course the device will most likely pretty advanced and we won’t want it be cheap but Microsoft may be able to offset the cost with phone plans unlike Apple seems willing to do with their vendors. I think key to4 Zune success is getting more units out there and a Zune phone can sure help make it a more popular device.

CrunchGear » Blog Archive » Source: Microsoft Zune Phone In the Works

We’ve just received a sound tip that Microsoft is working on its very own phone to be branded under the Zune moniker. Our tipsters inform us that Microsoft execs are in meetings today hammering out details of the device and developing strategies and timescales for its release.

Seeing as that the development has hardly started, little is known yet about the Zune Phone, but there are some details that seem solid thus far.

This is what we know:

It will be a smartphone that works homogeneously with the Zune marketplace. It will most likely not, however, run Windows Mobile. Rather it’ll make use of an interface similar to the current Zune, an interface that I consider among the best available on audio players—I’m sure it can transition to a phone easily.

Connectivity is the major concern of the device. It is said that it will be able to sync with the Xbox 360 and stream video from the system to the phone via a wireless data connection. This would be pivotal in Microsoft’s proliferation of its media ambitions. Not only does it already have millions of 360s in homes capable of downloading movies, it’d be able to distribute those videos directly to its phones. Cool stuff.

The other detail that seems certain at this point is that the device will, if things go as planned, be available for the ‘07 holiday season, which seems like a decent time line. That gives Microsoft about nine months to get everything together, an entirely possible feat.

With the Apple iPhone is set to drop in June, and the Microsoft Zune Phone near December, this year is gearing up to be highly prolific for the cellular industry. What effect do you all think this will have on the scheme of things? Who do you think will deliver a better product (and I don’t want “just because” answers)? Rational thought here, please.

This information is as definite as tips can be.

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Free music and streaming Mixtapes from

 Community, Holidays, Music, The Zune  No Responses »
Dec 152006
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I was cruising the web looking form some more great free music sources when I came across I was actually looking for another music blog and found them instead. I’m no authority on mixtapes but I have heard a few good ones in my day. It’s been a long time since I heard any but this site has quite a selection of music so I’m gonna check them out. DatPiff has loads of free MixTapes online with over 2200 in rotation on their Streaming MixTapes Feed right now.

I dropped in today and caught De La Soul’s Hip Hop Mixtape and the Best of Rocafella freestyles. It’s been a long time since I heard some De La Soul and it was good catching up with them.

This music site features an active members forum with over 31,000 registered users discussing a wide range of topics including mixtape sharing and reactions. Theres lots of new music for all to share at and if you like mixtapes I’m sure they have something for you to check out. They have tons of free content and they are even offering a Free iPod for the holidays so what are you waiting for?

DatPiff :: The Authority in Free Mixtapes

DatPiff is the #1 spot on the internet for mixtapes. You can listen to free mixtapes (streaming!), you can download free mixtapes. You can also join our community to comment on mixtapes, and anything on your mind. Don’t forget to earn points and prizes for participating in the site.

Enter the Xmas Giveaway!

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Online Calendar and Holiday reminders from

 Holidays, The Zune  No Responses »
Dec 142006
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I imagine I’m not the only person with this problem but I do feel terrible about my issue with forgetting peoples birthdays. It’s not all holidays although most don’t mean that much to me but it’s birthdays in particular that I forget the most. I have forgotten them all, from general or business related meetings to big ones like first dates and anniversary’s i have forgotten just about every holiday there is. I need a new system to remind me of things to do on a daily basis and I have installed and configured the Google Desktop tools with the Calender plugin which allow me to create reminders for every minute of the day.

It really is an invaluable tool for setting a schedule of things to do and reminders of important events or tasks you need to keep. I did find it lacking in the way it handled things like birthdays and anniversaries so I thought to locate something a biut more specific and I was told about an online calendar service from American Greetings that offered exactly what I am looking for. It claims to have the exact features i am looking for in the information from their website below and so I’m gonna give it a chance. I’m signing up for the service and I’ll let you know how things go later.

Online Calendar, Free Holiday Calendar Online, Free Printable Calendars, Family Calendar, Interactive Desktop Reminders, Birthday Reminder Service

American Greetings’ free online calendar sends birthday and event reminders, directly to your email or cell phone. The online calendar even sends you eCard suggestions, for remembering special people on special days. Keep track of important events, coordinate schedules and express your personal style – all with this free online calendar.

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New Music – Shane Cooley

 Community, Holidays, Music, shopping, Video  No Responses »
Dec 122006
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Shane Cooley

Location: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Description: Very original sound varying from acoustic singer/songwriter to rock n roll
Biography: Shane Cooley – Singer/Songwriter/Musician

Music Style: Acoustic Rock/Contemporary Rock
Musical Instruments: Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Harmonica, Drums, Keyboard
Age: 19
Hails From: The Northern Neck of Virginia
Student Status: Freshman – The College of William and Mary
Musical Start: Age 13 – Started playing guitar and writing songs.
First Musical Success: Age 14 – Wrote “Live On U.S.A.” after 9/11 disaster and recorded CD to benefit American Red Cross.
Recent CD: Flying Naked.
Currently: Booked for various venues and events in Maryland and Virginia. Cuts from Flying Naked are being played on XM Radio and Virginia radio stations. Two music videos played on Indigo TV.
Songs, “Dreams & Aspirations” & “Not I”, are being considered for play on television shows.

Shane Cooley is an 18 year old acoustic rock singer/songwriter who is on a nonstop road to success. His passionate lyrics are worth listening to and are accompanied by catchy, well written tunes. For the past five years, Shane has performed his library of over 100 original songs in many venues up and down the East Coast and has made 5 home-recorded and 4 studio CD’s that have received a great deal of radio airplay.

Shane has recently worked with producers/musicians Stewart Myers and Chris Keup, who have worked with Lifehouse, Jason Mraz and other successful artists. Chris Keup, who worked with Shane on the preproduction of his latest album, Flying Naked, as well as the platinum debut of Jason Mraz, said, “Shane Cooley writes strong songs with nice hooks and is very dedicated to his career.”
Over the years, Shane has developed a working relationship with producer/songwriter/performer Steve Bassett who had this to say: “I met Shane Cooley a couple years back…he is an artist committed to his craft and his positive outlook and drive will take him where he wants to go. When you see him perform, you’ll see what I mean.”

Shane also uses his music career to help in the community as well as be a mentor. The past two years, Shane has created his own charity drive and worked with 105.5 WRAR FM. The “CDs For Christmas Drive” collected CD’s and CD players that were donated to needy children during the holidays, this helped to expose them to all genres of music. In the wake of September 11, 2001, Shane dedicated a song he wrote, “Live On USA”, to raise money for the Red Cross Relief Fund of America.

Shane recently filmed two music videos in New York City which are to be premiered on Indigo Interactive Television in Manhattan. While in New York, Shane also mastered his 9th CD, Flying Naked with audio guru Fred Kevorkian (Dave Matthews Band, The White Stripes) at Avatar Studios. “Flying Naked” is Shane’s most powerful release with an all-star lineup of musicians and 10 of Shane’s original heartfelt and inspiring songs that his fans have come to love.

Currently, Shane is preparing a package to shop his music to record execs in Los Angeles and New York City. For a young artist, Shane has developed a strong resume’ as an experienced artist with a will to go as far as he can. Shane Cooley writes “songs with lyrics you’ll want to listen to”. Give him a listen – you’ll remember his songs, he’s only going up.


**Check out Shane’s MySpace Music!

**New videos available on blog!

FLYING NAKED is on itunes:
You can now download any or all of the songs from Shane’s current CD, Flying Naked, from itunes. Just type in Shane Cooley into the search (halfway down the page). If you haven’t set up an account with itunes yet – it’s easy and quick (if you have AOL for email, you can use that info when signing in). The download went flawlessly and was also quick. And the album ROCKS!
You can download itunes for free!

Shane was a semi-finalist in the Independent Music World Series, a songwriting contest that rewards the best independent artists in the country. There were 1,100 entries for the Northeast alone with 100 semi-finalists and 6 winners.
“The Independent Music World Series is the only independent music event that exposes musicians from every genre to music industry participants using impartial judging criteria and a live showcase finale. This isn’t a popularity contest.” – from the IMWS Web site.

Shane also have received an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for his achievements with the FLYING NAKED CD.

NEW Video on YouTube:
View a video of Shane giving a “room concert” in his dorm at The College of William and Mary. He sings “No Inspiration”. It is posted on YouTube – let’s get those number of “views” up, up, up!

Read the October 6th article in The Flat Hat, the student newspaper of the College of William and Mary. Shane was interviewed by Valerie Hopkins for this in-depth article titled “Pro rocker joins class of 2010″. Read it on-line!


October 17 (Saturday) – Barnes & Noble Grand Opening (7pm), New Town Shopping Area, Williamsburg, VA.
October 20 (Friday) – Red Ribbin Rock (8pm), William & Mary campus, Williamsburg, VA.
October 27 (Friday) – Aroma’s (8-10:30pm), Williamsburg, VA.
November 11 (Saturday) – Aroma’s (8-10:30pm), Williamsburg, VA.
December 31 – “First Night” (9pm), Williamsburg, VA.

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Video Games- What do you want for the Holidays?

 Games, Holidays, Video, Video Games  No Responses »
Dec 022006
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What video game items do you want for the holidays from this guy:
Santa Claus
Read the full post here, and post what you want in the forums.

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Possible release date on Microsoft Zune?

 Holidays, MAX, Microsoft, shopping, The Zune, Zune, Zune Tips  No Responses »
Jul 312006
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There has been no Official Release Date for Microsoft Zune players but it appears to many that the actual release date will be before November 14th. Some think Zune may be released as soon as October. Whenever it is released the Zune Shop is ready to ship Zunes. You can pre-order Zune players from the Zune Shop through our partnerships with Amazon and Walmart. Take your pick from either and buy a Zune from Doing so entitles you to a chance to get a $100 rebate on your Zune player.


From Endgadget: "Our Zune tipsters tell us that the Microsoft Zune is going to be launched the week before Thanksgiving this November."

An early November release date makes perfect sense. The holiday shopping season traditionally takes off just after Thanksgiving. We should expect to see a heavy marketing campaing in August and September with Mass market channels getting first crack on sales. So hopefully you can buy a Zune for the holidays right around Thanksgiving.

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Microsoft slips details of grand plan for Zune and Live Anywhere

Jul 282006
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Graphic taken from Microsoft Stock Holders Presentation. Copyright Microsoft Corporation

The Zune Insider provides some information about a recent financial presentation given by Robbie Bach the President of the Entertainment and Devices Division for Microsoft. The Zune Insider provides information direct from the Microsoft Website. Whatever you may think of him this comes straight from Microsoft so it has to be good. Our analysis of  The Financial Analyst Meeting 2006 reveals the details of what Microsoft plans for not only the Zune family of mobile devices but their larger plans for a future of interconnected devices and services catered to the digital lifestyle.

Bach statements are in italics for clarity.

Bach says while giving the presentation "One thing that hasn’t changed is our focus on the digital lifestyle. When I was here last year, I talked extensively about why we think the digital lifestyle is such a tremendous opportunity for the company and a tremendous opportunity for our group. And whether you’re at a PC or in your car or traveling or sitting down in front of the TV, we think we can deliver an amazing connected experience around the digital lifestyle."

We can see that the Zune is but a small part of this Microsoft Live initiative. This is another step towards establishing a platform of devices, applications and services to help a person manage their entire digital life with a little help and a monthly subcription to Microsoft. Bach continues by saying.

"But in some ways more importantly, the secret sauce to our strategy is the community and services we are going to use to tie these experiences together, because in the world of digital lifestyles, how people interact with others, the community they build, the services they have access to, really is what’s going to lead this business to success. And it’s a great place for Microsoft to differentiate itself."

Here he shows the "secret sauce" of their strategy and the way they plan to differentiate themselves is by building communities and services to tie things together. Well we’ve already seen them building communities with Xbox Live and we all understand the power of social networking (insert Myspace here). It appears that what Microsoft hopes to do is bring together an even greater audience with the integration of multiple media services in their own community.

Bach lays down steps for a grand plan with these statements.

"First of all, we have to launch Windows Vista. That’s critical to our gaming platform. This is the first version of Windows in probably four or five years that has significant advancements in gaming technology."

Windows is of course the foundation of all Microsoft plans. The most profitable division in their organization has always been the OS and in building more devices to license an operating system on they secure a stable future of their biggest money maker. Future versions of Windows will no doubt take on more a home management function and control things around the house from a centralized platform. Envision your automated home maintaining your favorite temperatures in each room, it can record, store and play your favorite media, it will manage your finances, it will make a pot of coffee every morning and it can even water the lawn twice a week. All through mechanized controls managed from your home pc and Windows Live for support.

"We also have to keep growing the Xbox 360 business. This is about building an install base. And now is the time to do that. By the time we reach the end of the calendar year, we think we will have a 10 million-unit console lead in install base, and that is a huge advantage for us relative to our competitors."

People wondered why they spent billions to win over the gaming market and here we realize it was much more than games. What they wanted was a dedicated base of users. In  the gaming industry they can brand their users at a young age and develop a loyal lifelong customer. This base sits on top of a Windows OS and software applications. How easy will it be to have Xbox users working with Microsoft applications throughout the rest of their lives? Microsft had great vision to develop this Live initiative and ambitious plans on how far they want to go with it.

"We’ve done a spectacular job in the IPTV space driving trials worldwide. You look at the list of customers we have who are trying our software; it’s a who’s who of the telecom industry, and we’re getting real traction with those and leading those toward commercial trials"

IPTV is a flank move on the television industry to take control of an even larger base of users. By securing a foothold on the Internet Television market and establishing market dominance they can cut out cable providers and take over the entire television industry. The merger between tv and the internet will be more of the internet assimilating the television market as it consumes all other media providers. It’s but a matter of time before all everything is available through your broadband connection. If Microsoft takes lead on IPTV they may some day control every television viewer in the world.

"When you add that to the fact that there’s integration opportunities between what we’re doing in IPTV and Xbox 360, and we’re already taking advantage of the opportunity to integrate between Media Center and Xbox, you really have in this entertainment space a great position for Microsoft."

This shows what we already can see about their integration plans. The Xbox and Media Center tie ins are well known. Having gamers playing on their platform has worked well for Microsoft and they are certain to continue pushing things as far as they can. The bigger picture of the Windows Live Anywhere project becomes more clear with the following.

"Finally, one of the things that we just announced last week is a move into the music and video space in portable entertainment, something we call Zune. I want to spend a few moments here talking about Zune and give you a little bit of context. I think the first thing to understand about Zune is that we are taking a more integrated approach to this. Microsoft will be involved in the hardware, in the software, and the services. We think that’s important to produce the number one thing that has to happen in this marketplace, which is a great customer experience. And we have to tie those things together in some ways like we have in the Xbox world, where in the hardware, software, and Xbox Live service we have tied things together in a great experience."

There has been some confusion about whether the Zune is a real product. We think you can see once again that this is a real project and that this device will soon be available. You can have all the leaked insider reports and photos you want. This is the President of a Division in Microsoft explaining to financial investors about their new portable entertainment device. He is not speaking about some far off future plans but stating facts about real products and services soon to come.

"Looking at Zune as part of our broader picture. You know, in the case of Apple, they have certainly an iMac business, they have their iPod business, and they’ve sold a few things in the home that compete with Media Center, although the numbers there are actually quite small. Look at our business: We have a burgeoning IPTV business that we think is going to grow and be successful in the home. We have Media Center in over 14 million units and growing around the world. We have Xbox 360 in place and growing around the world. We have Xbox Live, MSN, and our Windows Live initiatives expanding. Put all of those things together, and then take Zune and put it in the context of that. It enables us to complete the picture. It enables us to have the full entertainment and connected entertainment experience that we want to have. And so that’s why Zune is important, and it is a way we’re going to differentiate ourselves, because the experience of having Zune in that connected environment is going to be a dramatically better experience than you get just from having a portable music player."

Bach shows what we already know that they are planning a big push with the Zune family in order to once again grab a larger base of users for their future plans. The Zune is probably as big if not bigger then Xbox because with Zune if they fail it will destroy their plans for integration into the future services. We think that Microsoft will be taking a very serious approach to market dominance with the Zune portable media devices. The Zune has to have at least a moderate level of success and pay for itself in order for them to pursue further investment of this Live Anywhere initiative.

"I want to talk a little bit about further out something called connected entertainment, because our ultimate vision here in this space is how do we bring all these things together into an experience that is new and different for people? How do we enable people to have their content—whether it’s a movie, a game, a video, a piece of music, someplace in their environment—and be able to get at it from wherever they want, whether they’re in their car, whether they’re walking on the street, whether they’re in their living room, whether they’re in the den in front of a PC? That, we think, is a very powerful vision, and the combination of what’s going on in the networking space, and the work we’re doing with our devices, and our service, much like what you saw in Live Anywhere, we think we can deliver on a very integrated approach to content, that is very powerful not just for us and for our customers, but also for the content providers, because it gives them access to new experiences and to new customers."

In this final statement he just about wraps it up. These points lay out the ground work for integration of a variety of media platforms through a set of interconnected devices and services. Windows Live Anywhere really is a grand planl. If Microsoft can pull it off they will have a huge base of users. By tying the pc, the portable entertainment and home gaming system they create a complete entertainment system. As soon as they can add mobile communication services such as phone and text messaging to be connected through the same services it would be amazing.

The Zune portable player is an important step in their goals towards this Live Anywhere initiative. They have a strong position in the pc and game industry and are now focused on building and maintaining that. The mobile device has been the weakest link and Microsoft now feels it best that they do it on their own. They have had success with Xbox by taking more control of things and with any luck they will have great success with the Zune as well.

The mobile device is also the most powerful in the group since it is the one device to tie them all together. The Zune will be much more than a music player. If Microsoft is capable of completing this suite the Zune mobile communication and entertainment device will be the center piece of a digital lifestyle and interconnected community. One thing is for certain. Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of the Zune and they are going to do what it takes in order to see it succeed.

We think there will be a huge battle fought between Apple and Microsoft to see who has the coolest player. Right now Apple leads the pack with a high cool factor and a huge base of users that bought in because it was the hip thing to do. If Microsoft wants to beat Apple they have to be that much cooler. Possibly the smartest move they make will be in courting the artists as their spokespersons. If they provide more incentive to the artists through a larger cut of their profits they will make lots of friends in the recording industry and every wanna be hip hop mogul and movie star will be sporting the new Zune for the holidays.

What better way to be make your product cool than to let the cool people do it for you?

Graphic taken from Microsoft Stock Holders Presentation. Copyright Microsoft Corporation

Download the PowerPoint presentation (16 MB)

Watch the shareholder webcast.


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