Zune Rumors

Rumors about the Zune MP3 player from Microsoft

Zune April Fools?

Apr 022007
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Yesterday I announced the second winner of our Free Zune Giveaway and since it fell on April Fools Day I decided to have some fun with the announcement. Giveaway winners are posted in the forum and I announced the topic to every registered member with the misleading title “You won a Free Zune from ZuneMAX.com” which I thought was funny but I guess one or two of you didn’t. One guy cursed me pretty bad actually but he appears to have issues. Not all Zuners are cool It seems.

I had some fun yesterday just checking some of the other April Foolishness and saw the fun Google and Slashdot had with it. Late last night I read a story on Slashdot that caught my eye. titled “Microsoft set to Announce Zune 360 and 180” describes an article written by BlueBerry Bob title “Zune – set for a revamp“. In this article Bob claims that Microsoft is holding back plans for the current Zuner device because of the impending release of two new devices named the Zune 360 and the Zune 180. The Zune 360 is said to be a touchscreen video player with a full face screen and increased capacity and the 180 is a smaller Nano style player.

When I read the article late last night I thought it was an April Fools gag but now I’m wondering if I was the fool. I reread the article today after I found sites like TheInquirer going with the story and if it is a gag it’s well done. If it’s not what Microsoft has planned then maybe it is what they need to be doing at least. As it stands I have no idea whether it’s true or not but I do agree with their conclusion.

There’s not enough information to say whether the new Zunes will be a success but if this information is accurate the new models will be a major improvement over the original. This could mean some much needed competition in the portable music player market.

Zune – Set for a revamp

Microsoft’s Zune was released in the US in November 2006 and sales have been disappointing so far, in fact except for the launch week there’s been no week where the Zune has sold over 1000 units. A lot of problems with the Zune are caused by perception (a lot of people think they’re only available in brown), pricing (same price as an iPod – people will only pay a premium for the market leader) and the defective by design wireless sharing which adds bulk to the product without providing any useful purpose. The roll out to the rest of the world has been temporarily suspended while Microsoft finalize plans for the Zune 360 bringing them parity with their successful Xbox line of consoles. As yet, no information has been leaked so we have no pictures of this new product, but it is planned to be released in June and in a break from typical Microsoft style of announce plans early and often they’ve decided to follow a more secretive Apple style approach. Still, it’s amazing what information you can get out of a Microsoft rep if you feed them 10 bottles of Duvel, for some of them 2 bottles will even do.

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More Zune phone evidence as Microsoft buys Tellme Networks

Mar 142007
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Microsoft today announced their reported $800 million acquisition of Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search.

It’s not a Zune phone announcement but for those with some idea of their plans for the Live Anywhere Initiative this purchase is all about the Zune phone and other portable devices to come later. Voice enabled search would certainly give the Zune phone an advantage over the Google Phone in regards to it’s search abilities and cuts out many advantages of what they might offer with Apple on the iPhone.

A voice activated search and directory feature goes beyond just the phone and would integrate well into the Xbox Live service also I would think. Integrating voice activated commands into the Live gaming arena would be an awesome new feature with the loads of functions and content available. Beyond searching for games and players via voice command they can also integrate the same technology to assist in navigation and layout.

Microsoft to Acquire Tellme Networks: Combined expertise will bring the power of voice technology to everyday life.

Potential areas of development resulting from the deal will range from hosted voice-enabled customer service solutions that complement Microsoft’s existing unified communications offerings to voice user interfaces in existing Microsoft products to search services on mobile phones that integrate with Live Search for mobile offerings. In addition, developers and partners will be able to build new speech-based solutions on top of a scalable, standards-based voice-enabled applications platform.

TellMe Networks offers Microsoft much more than just the voice search capabilities and use on the Zune phone and portable devices. Microsoft has struggled for some time with development of decent speech recognition software and suffered an embarrassing episode during the pre launch of Windows Vista when the much touted new speech abilities went haywire in a public demo. Microsoft is certain to want to use the technology across their entire platform of products and services and they spell out a few items here in this excerpt from their press release.

Microsoft to Acquire Tellme Networks: Combined expertise will bring the power of voice technology to everyday life.

This acquisition will mark an important step forward in Microsoft’s strategy for delivering software plus services that put people at the center of technology solutions in the office, at home and on the go. For more than a decade, Microsoft has enabled speech, handwriting and touch as forms of natural user input, making computing and digital devices easier to use. Combining Tellme’s technologies with Microsoft’s existing and future products and services will help improve the way people use voice to find, use and share information:

  • Unified communications. Tellme’s voice-enabled services and solutions for enterprise customers complement Microsoft’s unified communications voice services portfolio. This will allow customers and industry partners to build highly scalable voice solutions that leverage rich identity, presence, messaging and application integration.
  • Speech platform. Tellme’s robust voice-enabled platform helps open new doors for Microsoft’s hundreds of thousands of developers and partners to build innovative speech solutions based on open standards.
  • Mobile services and search. Tellme’s speech expertise and work in mobile search, combined with Microsoft’s innovative local and mobile search offerings, will help take the mobile search usability experience to the next level.
  • Software plus services. In the long term, Tellme technology will enhance Microsoft’s many voice-enabled applications, including the Windows Vistaâ„¢ operating system, the Microsoft Office system, and mobile applications such as Windows Mobile® and Windows® Automotive.
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Microsoft to challenge every handheld future Zune devices

Mar 092007
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Microsoft has not been exactly forthcoming with specifications of future Zune devices but they have unveiled hints that intrigue the public and encourage tech enthusiasts to keep an eye on Redmond in the future. Although Microsoft has made some mistakes during the Zune launch no one has completely discounted their efforts and what Zune means to the portable device market.

Just as Microsoft released their Zune MP3 player, the company confirmed the rumors spreading over the tech industry that they are preparing a lineup of devices that would compete with almost every existing handheld player on the market. According to Microsoft, their future technological innovations would connect home, office and automobile audio-visual systems and enable users to experience multimedia entertainment at their fingertips. It’s their Live Anywhere Initiative and the Zune family of devices appear to be the “Anywhere” component.

The trademark of Zune, which filed documents describe as a “family of multimedia devices” rather than one product, draws quite a bit of attention from many handheld enthusiasts and critics. Many bigwigs from the industry opined that Microsoft is having a “risky game” with existing multimedia devices, threatening them all as the company develops new devices under Zune trademark that would integrate functionality that are offered by separate portable devices nowadays. Many are concerned with Microsoft’s abandonment of their previous market endeavors such as the Plays4Sure program. Microsoft defends their position by claiming they plan to support both Zune and Plays4Sure as two separate programs. The Zune devices will allow Microsoft more control over the device design and upgrade progression.

The Zune system’s trademark documents submitted to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expose that one of the future features of Zune family would be electronic games. This means that Microsoft intends to have their own product representation in handheld games industry that is currently dominated by companies such as Sony and Nintendo. The software giant’s confidence on their handheld game device venture is strengthened by the success previously realized by their own Xbox – as you may remember, it became the world’s number two game console when it was launched – surpassing the game entertainment veteran, Nintendo. A Microsoft portable game player has been discussed since the beginning of the Xbx was introduced and many have looked forward to the “Xboy” for quite some time. Many in the industry have high hopes for the Zune game player and there is no longer doubt that one is being planned, the only speculation left is what will a Zune gaming device do?.

Microsoft has partnered with several big companies to develop future Zune devices. With the information leaked in the filing of device prototype at FCC from a consortium involving Microsoft, it revealed that their current partners are Intel, Dell, Phillips and HP. Rumors were confirmed by Microsoft and its partners that they are currently working on a smart phone dubbed the “Zune phone.” Though the company did not confirm that their new Zune device is aimed to compete with Apple’s iPhone that will be launched on June 2007, they said that it would be available on the holiday season of the same year. The revelation of the Zune smartphone and iPhone would potentially stir telecom companies as these new products take advantage of wireless VOIP. Wireless VOIP would be attractive to public because calls are generally cheaper because they are routed through the Internet.

“Microsoft is getting involved with everything” would seem true statement when other Zune mobile phone devices scheduled for release. The company’s greater cross-platform ambitions apparently would strike existing handheld manufacturers and encourage them to undergo massive re-strategy either to keep their dominance on their market or to protect their product’s existence. As these competitions push technological development and innovations more rapidly, it is clear that Microsoft is trying to steal the crown from companies as they join the handheld battle of the fittest.

The only question that remains is that if the software giant will be able to realize their plans. While future Zune devices will not immediately materialize, people involved in the industry have plenty of time to wait and see – and it begins with the Microsoft’s first Zune device. Microsoft’s attempt to topple down Apple’s market-leading iPod is merely the beginning of a long, exciting battle in the portable media player market.

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Zune Game Player could use new AMD Imageon processors

Mar 082007
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Following up on our rumor from yesterday with some more Zune game player speculation today we have an article from Arstechnica on the announcement at GDC by AMD of their development of a suite of tools which allow developers to produce gaming content for their next generation mobile graphics products.

AMD has a new line of processors developed for mobile applications named Imageon which has support for 3D and 2D graphics, audio processing, digital still and video cameras, TV out, video recording with image stabilization, video transcoding, and various other multimedia features. The Arstechnica article speculates on a use for the new processor. They feel the Imageon chip would be the great match for a Microsoft portable game player and would be just what you need for a Zune gaming device. Of course this does not mean it will end up in any gaming device from Microsoft but just the fact people are mentioning it as a use may means there is interest in the player. Let’s hope Microsoft is paying attention and the rumored development of the Zune game player is on track. A holiday release date for a Zune 2.0 player and crossover with the existing Xbox fan base is just what Zune needs to kick start the social.

AMD brings Xbox 360 tech to handhelds

At GDC today, AMD announced a suite of tools for developing handheld gaming content for the company’s next-generation mobile graphics parts. The suite includes Rendermonkey 1.7, a shader tool that will let game developers write graphics code for a range of devices that support the OpenVG 1.0, OpenGL 2.0, and Unified Shader Architecture technologies. ATI’s Unified Shader Architecture in particular is one of the main selling points of the Xbox 360, and AMD will offer support for unified shaders on its next generation of mobile parts.

Rendermonkey is already widely used by PC and console developers, so the fact that the latest version makes it easier to author mobile gaming content should help foster porting and the development of original titles for handheld devices containing the AMD’s forthcoming Imageon processors.

The Imageon processor line, announced by AMD last month, is essentially a “GPU” for mobile devices. Imageon is more flexible than a desktop GPU, of course, since with a mobile device you want to save on cost and battery life by cramming as much of the phone onto one piece of silicon as you possibly can. So Imageon has support for 3D and 2D graphics, audio processing, digital still and video cameras, TV out, video recording with image stabilization, video transcoding, and various other multimedia features. All of this stuff is on a single chip that’s separate from the phone’s radio chip, so that the handset maker can upgrade to a new version of Imageon without having to go through the process of FCC qualification each time they add features.
A portable Microsoft gaming device?

Read more here:

AMD brings Xbox 360 tech to handhelds

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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 is coming soon

 Apple, Microsoft, The Zune, Zune, Zune Phone, Zune Rumors  No Responses »
Feb 092007
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The Zune Phone looks one step closer with an announcement that Microsoft has filed with the FCC for a wireless device that allows voice communication over the internet. It’s the Zune Phone some say and I think they are probably right. They’ll probably do what they can to answer Apple with their top products and iPhone is a big one. Following them with their own phone is exactly what Microsoft needs to be working on right now for new products and it seems they have been on it for some months now. I hope they have not forgotten about us current Zune owners and the issues some are having with their Zune. If the timeline they used to bring the Zune to market says anything then we know Microsoft can get the Zune release date for Holiday 2007 easy.

Microsoft must have learned something with the Zune launch and should be able to learn from their mistakes on that. A Zune Phone may be a more ambitious marketing campaign because of the heated competition iPhone is making. The Apple phone has grown out of proportion and to many are gaga over it. I expected more in the way of capacity at least but maybe it’ll be a better deal when the price drops considerably.

Microsoft files with FCC to test what may be Zune phone – MarketWatch

A filing that Microsoft Corp. submitted Monday to the Federal Communications Commission suggests the technology giant will likely add phone service to its line of hand-held media players, now known as Zunes.
According to the filing, Microsoft and other firms will submit for the agency’s approval a prototype of a wireless device that could be used to talk over the Internet. Apple Inc. made a similar filing, although chose a different technology, in advance of announcing its iPhone in January.

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Zune Phone in the works according to Crunchgear.com

Feb 022007
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According to a tipster at Crunchgear.com 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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Zune sites Astroturfing? Not here at ZuneMAX.com

Nov 172006
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As ZuneMAX.com has become more popular the number of critics has increased as well. On occasion I have received random emails and now comments in blog posts about Zune MAX being astroturf. The
first time I heard about astroturfing was from these emails. According to Wikipedia astroturfing is as follows:

In politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the “AstroTurf” (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate “fake grassroots” support.

ZuneMAX.com is not astroturf because we lack the "formal public relations" tangent and whether you can believe it or not we are in fact a genuine "spontaneous grassroots behavior". Until the day before the Zune launch I had never been given one single thing from Microsoft except a link on Zuneinsider.com and an interview with Dave Caulton and Bill Wittress which they offered to every Zune fan in the universe. When I was invited to attend the free concert on the beach to cover the event for the real PR campaign I was given a tshirt by a chick in the bar across the street because I chased her down for one and at the end of the evening myself and three friends were treated to dinner with a few others by the Microsoft representative as thanks for our help that day. I had a Chicken Cesaer salad and two rum and cokes, my friends kicked a few beers and seafood on "Uncle Bill". I’m gonna give the tshirt to a Zune fan in the forums. We talked Zune and Xbox over a meal and a drink on the beach. We talked as much about the beach the people and the weather as we did Zune. No secrets, no gifts, no promises and no information beyond whats publically known except that Microsoft is supposed to send me a Zune to review someday.

I passed out $200 worth of my own promotional materials to people on the beach to build our Zune community free to Microsoft because I am having fun with the community and I want to see it flourish. One might think they would offer some support to Zune fans but maybe they are smarter than that and see no reason to because they know that fans will exist on their own. I have not seen Microsoft do anything for this site more than what I have admitted to above. If it exists its anonymous and pretty stealth because I simply do not see it, at least not here.

ZuneMAX.com is a fan site which can easily be construed as astroturf because of my real interest but its not. I’m not making a conscious effort to sway opinion nor am I a Microsoft fanboy. If I were this site would not be built almost exclusively on open source software like WordPress.org and SimpleMachines.org and I most likely would not program in PHP using a MySql database on my FreeBSD / Apache webserver.

I do run a PC with XP because Windows is what I learned on and its a superior business tool that runs a variety of applications most linux toys can’t run. This PC does not have Word or any other Office application installed on it except Frontpage which I used back in 1998 for web dev and still keep around for some reason. I run Openoffice.org for office productivity and I run Firefox exclusively. I only keep IE installed and up to date for testing my sites which I often times neglect. This is why my design looks like crap in IE most of the time. I build for Firefox now and I let IE users suffer their own choice.

I use Thunderbird for email and cannot stand bloatware like Outlook. Microsoft software often times does too much for the average user. This causes bloated code and heavy applications. I think they should break software apps up into much smaller modules that can be installed individually based on need by the end user. I am not a coder but a 10 year pc/internet veteran and I think they should reduce the amount of code by giving me exactly what I need which I feel is what Firefox does best. I have dozens of extensions that do exactly what I need them to do and its sweet.

is awesome and if you are not using it you are missing out.

I own a black Zune that I paid $267 for because I was actually interested in the device. No mess about it I bought 10 domains on July 11 and built this site on the same day with the thoughts of capitalizing on this Zune announcement and Microsofts investment. I became a fan of the device after learning more about it and primarily after my articles on the future of the Zune DRM which I need to update soon because I have so many more ideas about where Zune can go its amazing. I see Zune more for what it can be later then what it is today.

We have all seen enough open the box Zune reviews. I have not owned a portable music player since my Sony Walkman Cassette player back so long ago. I’m not a tech guy or a gadget head or an audiophile of any sorts. I like music and I think the Zune is a cool player with innovative features. I’ve had mine now a few days and I’m taking my time to write a thorough and honest review from a novices viewpoint. I’m a first time mp3 player owner schooled on the Windows platform and an original Xbox owner. I think I fall into the demograpohics of most likely Zune buyers but I’m not a fanboy.

I’ll write an honest review of my Zune experience for the community that’s been built around my interest in the device. I’ll tell you what I like and what I dislike in a fair and objective fashion with the hopes I can help some fans learn more about the player so they can make a better informed choice when they are ready to buy. You can buy just about anything you want through our relationships with Amazon and Walmart including a Zune, an iPod or the many other devices on the market. If we’re lucky Microsoft, Apple and the others will listen to us and make improvements on all sides. In the end its best for consumers and that’s us, the regular people who actually buy these things.

The political implications of Astroturfing are scary to say the least. The capabilities to sway public opinion are a powerful mechanism and all of us should be aware of who controls the grass we walk on. Astroturfing exists and its a nasty thing by any description but it’s not happening here, at least not yet. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on further developments :)


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