Zune Battles iPod This Holiday Season

Mae : Wireless Mobility Blog
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Zune Battles iPod This Holiday Season

It’s official: Microsoft’s Zune and Apple’s iPod will be doing battle this holiday season for the hearts and minds of shoppers. Microsoft announced today that its new Zune music player will ship November 14, and be priced at $249.99, comparable to the 30GB iPod.

Here’s a quick ‘n dirty comparison of the two products:



Storage Size

Screen Size







Black, white, brown

Wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing, built-in FM radio tuner, pre-loaded with popular music, video clips, and images





Black, white

20-hour battery life for audio, 6.5 for video, gapless playback, syn-ability with iTunes Store (which now includes movies and TV shows)


Less clear than such a comparison is whether Microsoft can make a sizeable dent in Apple’s market share. Will Zune’s features, notably the wireless sharing, be enough to disrupt the empire Apple has built when it comes to portable media players?

Granted, the wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing is pretty cool, but some commentators have pointed out shortcomings of the feature. Most notable is Microsoft’s proprietary Digital Rights Management (DRM) system that, according to Kirk Biglione on Medialoper, means “recipients of shared songs will only be able to listen to them three times or for three days, whichever comes first.”

This three-days-till expiration feature is made possible, Biglione says, by “wrapping shared music in a proprietary layer of DRM, regardless of what format the original content may be in.”

Gee, that sounds kind of annoying. Sharing content between devices wirelessly is a cool idea, but it has limited coolness if that content dies after three uses or three days. Biglione is not alone in commenting on this failing of the sharing; it also is referenced in Wikipedia’s entry about Zune.

Want more on Zune? Check out Rich Tehrani’s post this morning (in which he says that Apple has plenty to be scared about) or simply search for “Zune” on Technorati.