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Microsoft approaches iPod accessory makers for Zune

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
News Categories: Other

After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device.

Additionally, iLounge has heard that Zune will most likely follow Apple’s recent decision - as seen in the upcoming Nike+iPod Sport Kit - to use some form of proprietary wireless communication technology, eschewing the open Bluetooth standard in favor of one developed at least in part by Microsoft. As previously reported, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit uses an Apple-developed version of 802.11, which may offer bandwidth and other benefits over the various flavors of Bluetooth, but could lock third-party developers out from creating compatible accessories. It is unclear whether Microsoft’s technology, which reportedly enables music “sharing” between multiple Zune users, will resemble Apple’s in all regards, but it will likely be available to third-party developers for accessorization. A recent competing music player, MusicGremlin’s Gremlin MG-1000, already uses the open 802.11b standard for its wireless functionality, a decision which enables the device to connect to existing Wi-Fi home and hotspot network locations. Future digital music players may support one or more 802.11 standards to guarantee both Wi-Fi network and proprietary accessory compatibility.

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Comments

1

If it’s not regular WiFi or Bluetooth, I’m not buying it.  That goes for MS, Apple or anyone else who wants to develop some proprietary nonsense.

Posted by stark23x on July 12, 2006 at 1:00 AM (PDT)

2

Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

Posted by KennyB on July 12, 2006 at 6:31 AM (PDT)

3

I think this is conflating Apple’s Nike-specific device with a device that should be generally wirelessly equipped. I’m hoping that Microsoft is following MusicGremlin’s lead of letting the device access hotspots even if it also uses proprietary wireless specifications because a device that could, for example, download podcasts on the go as they come out, would be really handy.

Posted by catboy17 on July 12, 2006 at 9:00 AM (PDT)

4

How are those accessory makers selling cases and such for Creative, iRiver or SanDisk?

Accessories have to be organic - it’s like all those Xbox 360 faceplates piled up everywhere.

MS thinks everything is brochureware - if we just down the checklist, it’ll be a raging success!

Anyone own any of the following MS attempts at selling hardware? MS watch? MS Talking Barney? MS TV remote control? MS home networking gear? WebTV?

This will fail as the Dell Ditty did - why? because they think it’s a HDD that can play back media AND MS will insist on some monthly revenue package - you don’t think “outside” WiFi will be free, do you? $15.99 a month? Or you don’t mind watching a few ads do you? (as they already mentioned) ... or their “recommendations,” - we see you have some Norah Jones - would you like to buy some BILLY JOEL?

Since it doesn’t play games, this will only tick off Xbox owners - the guy who heads XBox also had a portable transfer device like this for Dreamcast - the only people buying this will be like those Dell sales ... to corporate buyers who can sneak another $400 onto their RFP.

Posted by jbelkin on July 12, 2006 at 12:33 PM (PDT)

5

MSFT already has a proprietary wirless tech built into the Xbox 360 (for the controlers, wireless headet and what not). Anyone know the bandwidth on that is?

Posted by Sean on July 12, 2006 at 12:52 PM (PDT)

6

They will offer the carrot of lower licensing fees for accessories.  But the bottom line is, they need to have big sales to get support from the accessory makers.

The other part is that a lot of stores make way more money from accessories than the iPods themselves (profit margin percentage).  So they devote shelf space to accessories and some stores carry iPods to draw in people looking for accessories.

Posted by wco81 in West Coast on July 12, 2006 at 5:03 PM (PDT)

7

Mircrosft isn’t playing around on this.  They’ve been looking at everything that is so successful for the iPod and have also researched why so many attempts to dethrone apple from the mp3 player king.
They are attacking in every aspect.

“I already have a music collection from iTunes”
—No problem we’ll give you a free copy of any song you’ve downloaded from itunes.

“I’m buying an iPod cause there are more accessories for it”
—We’ll have accessories from the same vendors.

“No other device works seamlessly with software like the iPod + iTunes”
—Ours will too.


Now I’m not saying that Microsoft has what it takes but to be the iPod killer but Apple better get hot on their next models and make’em good or we may see the same outcome as the PC vs. Mac war.

Posted by 3rdEye on July 12, 2006 at 8:21 PM (PDT)

8

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft sounds serious about grabbing Apple’s leftovers. It remains to be seen how their so-called “partners” like Creative, SanDisk, Toshiba, Sony, MTV, Napster, etc. will react if and when Microsoft’s “Zune” vapor solidifies. There still is, after all, a nice minority share of the market that iPod+iTunes doesn’t own. It looks like Microsoft wants it all for themselves as usual.

One question springs immediately to mind: If Microsoft starts to show any momentum, would Steve Jobs decide to get the also-ran device makers and music services on the horn and, oh, how about… license FairPlay to them? Then everyone except Microsoft would be iTunes and iPod compatible. Whoops! All Zune-related development, marketing, manufacturing, and other costs = total write-off. Game, Set, Match.

That’s one way to go. Another is to just stay the course, which would be even easier to do if Mac growth were to ramp up at the same time. Even if Microsoft could manage it, it’d take quite some time for them to significantly impact Apple’s iPod+iTunes juggernaut.

Link: Sounds serious: Microsoft approaches iPod accessory makers for Zune would-be ‘iPod killer’

Posted by Porridge on July 12, 2006 at 9:00 PM (PDT)

9

Sharing and transfering songs between devices or with your friends???  The record industry is going to have a COW when they get wind of that, they will NEVER allow it!  They don’t even want you to save something from XM or Sirius on a portable player to listen to later.

Posted by ggore on July 13, 2006 at 4:09 AM (PDT)

10

Apple should license their DRM and get everyone to use their DRM cause they are the biggest.

Apple will surely have bluetooth or WIFI on their next iPods, my prediction. Yes, I would love to see iPods update podcasts on their own. That would be cool.

My iPod is on the way.

Posted by Alex on July 13, 2006 at 3:00 PM (PDT)

11

don’t be surprised if, in five years, ipod is no longer #1.

Posted by tofo on July 19, 2006 at 6:16 AM (PDT)

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