Sounds serious: Microsoft approaches iPod accessory makers for Zune would-be ‘iPod killer’

“After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device,” Jeremy Horwitz reports for iLounge.

“Additionally, iLounge has heard that Zune will most likely follow Apple’s recent decision – as seen in the upcoming Nike+iPod Sport Kit – to use some form of proprietary wireless communication technology, eschewing the open Bluetooth standard in favor of one developed at least in part by Microsoft. As previously reported, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit uses an Apple-developed version of 802.11, which may offer bandwidth and other benefits over the various flavors of Bluetooth, but could lock third-party developers out from creating compatible accessories,” Horwitz reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Greg H.” for the heads up.]
Microsoft sounds serious about grabbing Apple’s leftovers. It remains to be seen how their so-called “partners” like Creative, SanDisk, Toshiba, Sony, MTV, Napster, etc. will react if and when Microsoft’s “Zune” vapor solidifies. There still is, after all, a nice minority share of the market that iPod+iTunes doesn’t own. It looks like Microsoft wants it all for themselves as usual.

One question springs immediately to mind: If Microsoft starts to show any momentum, would Steve Jobs decide to get the also-ran device makers and music services on the horn and, oh, how about… license FairPlay to them? Then everyone except Microsoft would be iTunes and iPod compatible. Whoops! All Zune-related development, marketing, manufacturing, and other costs = total write-off. Game, Set, Match.

That’s one way to go. Another is to just stay the course, which would be even easier to do if Mac growth were to ramp up at the same time. And, if just some of what’s rumored for next-gen iPods comes true, then Microsoft and the rest of the roadkill are in for the usual world of hurt. Even if Microsoft could somehow manage it, it’d take quite some time for them to significantly impact Apple’s iPod+iTunes juggernaut.

What do you think?

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  1. This is all making one HUGE assumption – that M$ is actually going to release a product that “could” or “might” compete directly with the iPod. It’s already being called the latest iPod “killer”. Why is anyone quaking in their boots about this? Is it because the 8000 lb M$ gorilla around the corner has farted? That just means all they have so far is the faint smell of something to come, with nothing at ALL to show for it.

    Apple continues to sell iPods. Apple continues to develop new iPods. And Macs. And OS X.

    Microsoft might also release a new operating system sometime in the next 8 months. But that’s only about an 80% chance.

  2. Firstly, like Vista and Longhorn, I’ll believe it when I see it. Secondly, if it is anything like Origami it will be a major flop. I can’t wait to hear Gates comment on the probabilities of first release of this thing, too, much less expound on all the wonderful features and functions it will have like Vista-eviscerated.

    Seriously, will Microsoft ever deliver something both useful and innovative on time?

  3. Given that Microsoft has over 90% market share, why do they need to get into the music download business? Is it because of Apple?

    Seems to me that Microsoft is going after Apple…


  4. Ultimately, it’s not really about the iPod … it’s Microsoft’s desire to keep it’s own audio/video formats relevant …

    Exactly. One of the tools MSFT used to dominate the computer industry was standards, and I don’t mean someone else’s standards.

    By controlling the standards you can button hole the competition. Think Mac incompatible web sites. If WMP becomes the industriy’s player standard, all the third party accessory manufacturers will develop for it, and not the iPod. At least not until the iPod adopts WMP.

    iPod/iTunes/FairPlay is the current standard and the manufacturers have lined up behind it. Accessories are to music player platforms what software was to Windows.

  5. Zune? With a name like that, it’s already a goner. Must have come from the same brilliant minds who came up with “Urge.”

    Companies that make accessories for iPod do so because there are tens of millions of iPods out there. Why would any company license the Zune port before the product even exists or (once it exists) proves that it is viable? Microsoft – Get your product out there first. At first, you’re going to have to make your own Zune accessories. Then, we’ll see if other companies want join the “Zune ecosystem.” And by the way, you may want to focus a bit more on getting your “other” product out the door first.

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