Zune HD Marks Microsoft's Latest Frontal Assault on Apple

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-09-15 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Microsoft's release of the Zune HD is just another example of the software giant taking aim at Apple. Microsoft is challenging Apple on multiple fronts with the Zune HD, Windows 7 and Windows Mobile. But whether any of these efforts will win over staunch Apple fans is uncertain at best.

By releasing the Zune HD, Microsoft is placing much of its hopes in the consumer space on a product that's competing in a saturated market against a dominating force. The Zune HD will be the only portable music player Microsoft offers as it takes aim at Apple's iPod line.

But it's not unique. The Zune HD is just another product from Microsoft that puts a target on Apple's back. It's becoming increasingly clear that Apple is Microsoft's focus going into the new year.

Zune HD

The Zune HD promises to be Microsoft's best portable music player so far. It sports a touch-screen, HD radio, Web browsing and the ability to access Facebook and Twitter from the device. Users can also play games, although the product only features a handful of compelling titles.

Regardless, Microsoft is focusing its attention on the iPod with the Zune HD. The company clearly wants to use the touch-screen, the apps and the nice features to distinguish its product from Apple's. It makes sense. The PMP space is being dominated by one company and so far no other vendor has been able to capture a sizable portion of the market. Originally, that was due to Apple's monopoly on design and its iPod line's close connection with iTunes. Now that iTunes is free of Digital Rights Management controls, Apple's dominance has everything to do with how consumers view its products in the marketplace and the design of its iPods.

Microsoft realized that and in the Zune HD brought a product to market that, in my opinion, is the first viable challenger to the iPod.

Windows 7

But Microsoft didn't stop there. Realizing it has had some serious trouble winning the PR war against Apple and its Mac OS X operating system, Microsoft is undoubtedly trying to fix its mistakes with the release of Windows 7 in October. The company has already started a massive marketing campaign that attempts to convince users that although Windows Vista wasn't the best product the company has released, Windows 7 is one of the better products it has ever made.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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