One of the perennial questions about Microsoft’s Zune personal media player has been when it would grow beyond a USA-only product and challenge the Apple iPod worldwide. The upcoming retirement of all the older Zune models with the advent of the Zune HD on September 15 is yet another opportunity to jump outside the USA, but it isn’t in the cards:
"For the time being the Zune HD device will remain US-only," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. "Right now we are focused on deploying an exciting service in the form of Zune Video to 18 markets. We are looking at potential future hardware experiences for these markets, but do not have anything to announce right now."
It looks as if Microsoft wants to start completely from scratch with the Zune HD; Redmond used the US as a testing ground for the Zune, and it looks as if it wants to do the same with the Zune HD. Microsoft is again entering a saturated market, just this time it’s doing it with a device available in two sizes, instead of one. The Zune didn’t get very far in terms of the number of markets, nor in the number of sales. Can Microsoft get it right on round two?
That’s the impression I get as well – Microsoft will never spend the considerable amount it would require to take the Zune outside the USA until they are really sure they have a contender.