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?
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.
Some of the comments I read said things like â€œMicrosoft is abandoning this generation of Zune,â€ but nothing could be further from the truth. We see Zune today as simply the baseline â€“ not the endgame. That means weâ€™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 Cesarâ€™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.