Backstage: Microsoft’s big, quiet music plans?

Is it plausible? If it was coming from someone we didn’t know, we would have a harder time believing it. But a well-connected iLounge reader reports that a huge order – in the millions “per month” – has just been placed by Microsoft with a leading Chinese manufacturer of headphones.

Given Microsoft’s varied business ventures, the order could conceivably be for anything from Xbox 360 accessories to pack-ins for a new MP3 player – or both, as we’d heard separate and not entirely accurate rumblings about months ago. But the reality is that the company sells very few hardware products under its own name, and far fewer still that would demand millions of headphones per month. We’d doubt, for example, that it expects to sell multiple millions of the optional Xbox 360 Headset for online gaming right away. But perhaps it does.

Or perhaps Microsoft’s making plans for a bigger push into the digital music market? As Engadget noted yesterday, the company’s apparently looking into sneaky ways to endgame the iTunes Music Store with Windows Media-compatible audio files. Of course, for that plan to work, it would help if millions of people actually owned devices compatible with Windows Media songs. A Microsoft-branded product might be easier for the company to control and sell than the jumble of disparate “Plays For Sure” offerings everyone else is offering right now. What do you think?

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