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July 5, 2006

Latest Microsoft iPod killer rumor: due by Christmas

Posted by David Hunter at 5:13 PM ET.

The latest rumor of a Microsoft iPod killer comes from Bloomberg News (via Todd Bishop):

Microsoft Corp. is planning to have a portable music and video player out by Christmas in a challenge to Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod.

The digital player will have a wireless Internet connection, enabling users to download music without being linked to a computer, a feature the iPod doesn’t offer, according to people briefed on Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft’s plans.

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, is seeking to take share from Apple’s iPod, which commands 77 percent of the $4 billion U.S. market for digital music players, based on figures from market researcher NPD Group Inc. Apple’s iTunes music store is used for 72 percent of music downloads. Microsoft has spent the past six years relying on partners to make players that use its software.

“None of Microsoft’s partners are doing the job that needs to be done,”‘ said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research in New York. “Apple has set it up so Apple music flows only to Apple devices. It locks Microsoft out and gives Apple more of a hold.”

Microsoft hired music industry executive Chris Stephenson, who is among Microsoft officials who have met with music and Hollywood companies to seek licenses for their content, according to industry officials with knowledge of the plans. J Allard, 37, a Microsoft Xbox vice president, is overseeing the development of the device, the people said.

There’s more by following the link, but this seems to be the same rumor as the one in June, only with more details. Once again, the important part is that Microsoft is apparently doing this themselves like the Xbox instead of “enabling” partners like the Personal Media Center and unsurprisingly has the Xbox crew in charge. I still wonder about the PMC partners left high and dry, though. One further observation: while the iPod lacks a wireless connection, the feature isn’t new to the space since MusicGremlin just rolled out a personal audio player with Wi-Fi Internet support as its primary virtue.

Filed under Apple, Coopetition, Digital Media, Executives, Hardware, J Allard, Microsoft, New Form Factors, Portable Media Center, Technologies

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3 Responses to “Latest Microsoft iPod killer rumor: due by Christmas”

  1. iPod Killer update -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] I guess “entertainment industry executives” just can’t keep their lips zipped since after yesterday’s Bloomberg News story about a Microsoft plan to compete with Apple’s iPod, they seem to have been falling over themselves to dish to a reporter. Jeff Leeds at the NY Times: Microsoft has been developing its own hand-held music and video player to challenge Apple Computer’s iPod and expects to have it in stores in time for the holiday season, entertainment industry executives briefed on the company’s plans said last night. … The company has also held negotiations, the executives said, with major record companies and some major television networks in order to settle on terms that would allow it to sell music and video content online through a service similar to Apple’s iTunes Music Store. … A senior executive at a major TV network said Microsoft had not yet received commitments from the networks to supply programming to its online store. But the executive said that the networks would welcome competition for Apple in downloads. [...]

  2. Media UnCut Says:

    Microsoft on MP3 Player: “speculation and rumors”

    The rumors are back that Microsoft is trying to kill the Apple iPod. Microsoft would not confirm and the do not “have anything to announce at this time”. The rival iPod player would allow downloading music wirelessly so you don’t need a PC.

  3. Microsoft admits to Zune -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] – The service and device will not be PlaysForSure compliant, meaning you will not be able to use your Zune player with Napster or Vongo, for example. This will be an entirely new system. Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two (sic) entirely separate division that will not have any crossover. The latter point – that Microsoft’s erstwhile PlaysForSure partners are left out in the cold by the Zune – is one nail that I can never resist hammering (e.g. [1], [2]) and it seems to be quite a popular target: [...]

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