Microsoft planning handheld music, video, game player ‘iPod Killer’ & music service ‘iTunes Killer’

“In a bid to capture the huge audience for handheld entertainment gadgets, Microsoft is designing a product that combines video games, music and video in one handheld device, according to sources familiar with the project,” Dean Takahashi reports for The Mercury News. “The Microsoft product would compete with Sony, Nintendo and Apple Computer’s products, including the iPod. And Microsoft has some of its most seasoned talent from the division that created its popular Xbox 360 working on it. Game executive J Allard leads the project, and its director is Greg Gibson, who was the system designer on the Xbox 360 video game console. Bryan Lee, the finance chief on the Xbox business, is leading the business side of the project.”

“By anchoring its entertainment device as a handheld game player, Microsoft is starting from its position of strength in the entertainment business that it hopes Apple cannot match, even with its iPod. The game press has dubbed it an ‘iPod killer,’ but its functions would likely more closely resemble Sony’s PlayStation Portable multimedia gaming device,” Takahashi reports. “Meanwhile, Microsoft’s efforts in PocketPC handhelds and Portable Media Players have fallen short in competition with the iPod. Last week, Microsoft unveiled Project Origami, a handheld Windows computer. But that device isn’t targeted on pure entertainment as the Xplayer is. The existence of these other projects suggests that there is still some infighting within Microsoft about its best approach to portable gadgets. The handheld project is still in its early stages. Microsoft is still figuring out which strategy to pursue in music technology, according to sources familiar with the matter. The code name for its music service, which would be the equivalent of Apple’s iTunes, is ‘Alexandria.'”

“It could be 2007 before the device hits store shelves. That gives rivals such as Sony, Nintendo and Apple considerable time to consolidate their position and come up with their own new gadgets in the meantime,” Takahashi reports.

More details in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The number of iPod and iTunes “killers” currently sitting on death row is uncountable. All of them are tied to Microsoft in some way or another. The only true “iPod killer” and “iTunes killer” is Apple. We heartily encourage Microsoft to keep throwing their money away on a market they’ve already lost long ago.

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More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Thomson gives up on MP3 player, CE markets – December 12, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: BenQ withdraws from MP3 player markets – November 28, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Olympus halts production of portable digital music players – November 09, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Rio is dead – August 26, 2005
Sony to combat music market ‘maestro’ Apple Computer with ‘Walkman Beans’ – August 18, 2005
Apple’s iPod has blood on its Click Wheel: Virgin Electronics is dead – March 08, 2005
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005


  1. Microsoft says it is going to do everything. Search engine, iPod killer, video game system, Media center, I think they even have a Windows XP powered toliet planned. I think the only thing they have done right was the Xbox.

  2. I guess those iPod Hi-Fi speakers introduced were “Bose Killers” and “BoomBox Killers”, right?

    As Apple knows 2% of a market (computers) can be very profitable.

    MDN comment: “The only true “iPod killer” and “iTunes killer” is Apple.”
    Gee…how long did you have to twist your brain power up to think up those words of nonsense?

  3. “”It could be 2007 before the device hits store shelves.”

    Which, in MVT (Microsoft Vista Time), would actually be the year 2012. It’s the same year that OS X 11.0 Tabby, the tamest OS of all-time, will hit store shelves.

  4. Nolan,

    Business 101…get your facts straight.
    Macs have a larger share of the global computer market than 2%.
    In the US they are at 4.3%
    and a 4.5% share globally (and growing rapidly)
    There is no way that a niche product like the Hi-Fi will function as a business driver in the same way as the iPod or a full computer do.
    It’s not that the hi-fi is a killer of anything but rather another choice (good or bad) for an ADDITIONAL amplification system. They are likely quite inexpensive to build and offer Apple another revenue stream with minimal risk. Smart business.

    The MDN Take is based on the rather remarkable fact that Apple KILLED the most successful mp3 player in the world in the mini iPod to replace it with the iPod Nano. In other words, they are the masters of their own fate in
    the marketplace, unlike so many competitors.

  5. From what I have notice from a long time of reading the san jose mecrury news, they always seem to look down upon Apple. Come on cheer for someone in your own backyard for once.

    Look at that article, its like a hype machine. Everyline is with a !!!!!!. You know whats funny about MS is they want to put all those other things in a portable device, but that will only get techies to buy it, not the masses. I don’t think kids, women and older people would even want all those features in a music player. They just want something simple.

  6. Whth the backing of Microsnot’s marketing team, their software progrrammers are going to re-release Pong but in color! That will be an iPod killer. You just watch heheheheheh!
    Scheduled for release at the same time as PS3 to counter’s Sony’s attempt at producing an XBox killer.

  7. Geez, Microsoft, why stop there? Why not take on Nokia, Norelco, Texas Instruments, and Bernz-O-Matic while you’re at it? I’m sure there a huge market for a combination handheld game machine, movie player, music player, cell phone, razor, scientific calculator, and propane torch! That Microsoft, always thinking small.

  8. “And Microsoft has some of its most seasoned talent from the division that created its popular Xbox 360 working on it.”

    You meen the same Xbox 360 that’s at best an update to the previous generation Xbox, that no one cares about while waiting for the PS3 and Nintendo Revolution. Wow! I’m impressed, I can’t wait!

  9. The biggest barrior to this plan is that it screws all the other manufacturers of iPod-like devices that are on-board with MS DRM and media deployment.

    MS had a win with the X-Box because it had the segment to itself, but when they deploy a media player that shafts Creative Labs, SanDisk, SamSung and others there will be massive hard feelings and a possible backlash that would not be worth it to MS.

    MS could launch a trojan media handheld disguised as an X-Box handheld to compete with the PSP and then endow it over time with additional iPod-like capabilities. This would again shaft the other media player manufacturers and ultimately cause weakening support for MS media technology and slow down adoption of MS DRM.

    That’s the problem with being everything to everybody, everywhere you turn your burning a supporter.

    Apples proprietary approach has its own problems but with the iPod they’ve got the whole game to themselves. Now if Apple would endow a forthcoming large screen handheld with gaming capability and garner support from content authors it’s hard to say how big Apple could become.

    One thing is for sure, MS will have a damned hard time coming to market with a well thought out device before 2010.

  10. The beauty of the iPod is its simplicity. I don’t need something that does everything but clean my house (I could use something to clean my house, but that’s another story…). Most of the time, I just want to listen to music, or maybe catch a video or two (or more when I’m stuck waiting at the doctor’s office); if I want to play a video game, I’ll stick my Nintendo DS in my daypack.

    The iPod appeals especially to the commuter — I see tons of them on transit around here. How many of those folks are really going to be interested in a game player? (With the advent of the Multi-Pass, it’s not too far fetched to imagine short newsmagazine-style programs available for morning download; maybe ABC would even supply Nightline for folks to view the next morning on the train, but that’s a bit off-topic.) Plus, the success of the product is dependent on the media available; I’ve resisted getting a PSP mainly because I haven’t really seen any games that I’m interested in playing, and when I’m on the go I don’t really have time to watch a full-length movie (barely have time to get through some of the TV shows on the iPod Video). I haven’t bought a game console since the old SNES — haven’t really seen any games worth investing in a console for.

    Once again, Micro$oft can’t come up with their own ideas, so they have to cobble together the best of the iPod along with a bit of PSP, and it’s going to be a disaster…far from killing the iPod, it’s going to showcase the iPod’s simplicity and ease of use. (Though the iPod could stand some improvement, like an easier way to scroll through a huge song/video list…)

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