“Microsoft Corp. is planning to have a portable music and video player out by Christmas in a challenge to Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod,” Bloomberg reports.
“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,” Bloomberg reports.
“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,” Bloomberg reports.
“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,” Bloomberg reports. “Microsoft met with music companies including EMI Group Plc and Universal Music Group, and TV broadcasters NBC, Fox and CBS Corp. to gain content for a music and video store to compete with Apple’s iTunes, according to people familiar with the meetings.”
“Microsoft’s device will be able to connect to the Internet and other devices using the wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, standard, which iTunes doesn’t have, the people said,” Bloomberg reports. “Microsoft is also promising the screen will have a better quality picture than the iPod, according to the people, who saw the slideshow Microsoft is using to promote the device.”
“Since Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduced the iPod in October 2001, the company has sold more than 50.8 million players. Apple also is talking with Hollywood studios to add movies to the music, television shows and podcasts already offered on iTunes, Variety magazine reported on June 19,” Bloomberg reports.
Microsoft’s MSN Music store has 3 percent of the market for music downloads. The company has a partnership with Viacom Inc.’s MTV on a music service called Urge and any new subscription service Microsoft builds for its new device would compete with Urge. Microsoft also promotes RealNetworks Inc.’s Rhapsody service as part of an antitrust lawsuit settlement,” Bloomberg reports. “In a February interview, Ballmer said Microsoft is ‘committed to doing what it takes to succeed” against Apple… Sandisk is the closest competitor to Apple’s iPod, with a market share of less than 10 percent, Port Washington, New York- based NPD said.”
Full article here.
Ohhh, that all sounds very scary for Apple unless you realize that Steve Jobs most probably has not stopped iPod+iTunes R&D in order to let also-rans like Microsoft catch up. Microsoft is always behind; this case is no different. We foresee people rushing out to buy Microsoft portable digital media players in much the same way they ran to dealerships for Oldsmobiles. And, yes, Ballmer really ought to be committed.
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Generator Research: Apple to Ship $4.2bn in Wireless iPods (WiPods) by 2010 – March 14, 2006
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More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
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