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Manufacturer Microsoft
Type Portable media player
Release date Flag of the United States November 14, 2006 (Zune 30) [1]
Flag of the United States November 13, 2007 (Zune 4, 8, 80) [2]
Flag of Canada June 13, 2008 (Zune 4, 8, 80) Flag of the United StatesFlag of Canada September 16, 2008 (Zune 16, 120) [3][4]
Retail availability Flag of the United States November 14, 2006
Flag of Canada June 13, 2008
Units sold 3+ million (as of January 2009)[5]
Operating system Windows Embedded[citation needed]
CPU Freescale i. MX31L processor ARM Core
Storage capacity 4, 8, and 16 GB flash drive
30, 80, and 120 GB hard drive
Display 1.8in glass LCD screen, resolution 240×320 (Zune 4, 8, 16)
3in QVGA LCD screen, resolution 240×320 (Zune 30)
3.2in glass LCD screen, resolution 240×320 at 4:3 aspect ratio (Zune 80, 120)
Touchpad Circular directional pad (non-touch)
(30 GB release)
Touch-sensitive Zune Pad
(4, 8, 16, 80, 120 GB releases)
Connectivity Wi-Fi (Zune-Zune, Sync-PC, Microsoft Surface)
Online services Zune Marketplace

Zune is the product-line brand name for the Zune portable media players, Zune software, and Zune Marketplace services sold by Microsoft, which provide online music, video, and podcast downloads.[6] Zune's primary competitors are the Apple iTunes/iPod product line and the SanDisk Sansa line. Zune players come in two variants, one hard-drive based and the other flash-memory based. Both play music, videos, and podcasts, display images, and receive (but not record) FM radio with RDS. They can share files wirelessly with other Zunes and via USB with Xbox 360s and Windows PCs. Any Zune can also be synced wirelessly with a Windows PC. The Zune is currently not compatible with Mac OS X or Linux.

Zune software, which runs on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 allows users to manage files on the player, rip audio CDs, manage music, and buy songs, music videos, and TV shows at the Zune Marketplace online store using Microsoft Points or a Zune Pass, which allows the subscriber to download unlimited songs temporarily and permanently keep ten favorite songs each month.[7]


[edit] History

The first Zune model, the Zune 30, was released in the United States on November 14, 2006. Featuring 30GB of capacity, built in Wifi, FM radio, and a 3 inch screen, the Zune 30 came in black, brown or white. Basic headphones, a carrying case, USB cord, and software CD were all included in the original package.

The Zune 4, 8 and the 80 were announced on October 2, 2007[8] as the beginning of the V2 set of Zunes. The new Zune 80 features a 3.2 inch screen, while the Zune 4 and 8 come with an 1.8 inch screen. Both come with a new touchpad-style input device and new software (also available for the Zune 30.) Additional file support for H.264 and MPEG-4 file was also included, although the older Zune 30 requires these formats to be transcoded to WMV prior to sync. The ability to sync wirelessly (automatically if connected to a power supply,) podcast support, and an upgraded song-sharing licensing are now available on all models. The new software also allows a Zune to communicate with other Zunes to share pictures and songs. A free firmware update added the new software features to the original Zune 30, and was released on November 13, 2007.[9] The Zune 80 comes bundled with a USB connection cord and premium headphones. The Zune 4 and 8 come with a USB connection cord and standard headphones.

[edit] Development

The first-generation Zune was created by Microsoft in close cooperation with Toshiba, which took the design of the Gigabeat S and redeveloped it under the name Toshiba 1089 as registered with the FCC starting in the year 2006.[10] Xbox 360 overseer J Allard ran the project, codenamed ‘Argo’, staffed with Xbox and MSN Music Store developers[11] who worked on ‘Alexandria’, finalized as Zune Marketplace.[12] Both products were later united under the Zune brand name in the U.S. market.

The second-generation Zune 4 GB, 8 GB, and 80 GB are manufactured by Flextronics. The 4 and 8 GB Zunes are flash-based and smaller in size than the 80 GB version. The 30GB Zune was not redesigned.

[edit] Zune 3.0

Zune 80/120 and Zune 4/8/16 menu system
Zune 80

On September 8, 2008, Microsoft announced the Zune 3.0 update. Included in this update are the abilities to tag and later purchase songs heard on FM radio, channels which can be customized to deliver suggested songs for the user, and the ability to purchase songs from the Zune device via the Zune Marketplace, all wirelessly available. The update also included sample games - Hexic, Space Battle, Sudoku, checkers, and Texas Hold' em. In addition, support for audiobooks from online stores like Audible.com, and Public libraries that support OverDrive media files such as the Free Library of Philadelphia was added.[13][14][15] Other noticeable changes included the introduction of a clock and changed "quicklist" functionality. Zunes feature games developed using XNA with custom soundtracks and 8-player wireless multiplayer using the built-in Wi-Fi. An early version of XNA Game Studio 3.0 released on May 7, 2008 allows developers to work on Zune games.[16]

On November 18, 2008, the Zune 3.1 update was released. Primarily a stability-oriented release, it also introduced a few additional games for Zune devices. A new policy announced on November 20, 2008 allows Zune Pass customers to download 10 tracks per month in the protection-free MP3 format (if available) for permanent ownership; otherwise, WMA protected format will be downloaded, in addition to the existing "all you can eat" subscription usage at an unchanged monthly cost.

[edit] Devices

[edit] Models

For the main articles, see Zune 30, Zune 4, 8, 16 and Zune 80, 120.

All three models of the Zune: Zune 4, 8, 16 (left), Zune 80, 120 (center), and Zune 30 (right).

The 30 GB Zune, the first Zune music player, has a 30 GB hard drive, 3” screen, and simple directional pad for menu navigation. The second generation of the Zune consists of the Zune 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 80GB and 120GB. The Zune 4, 8 and 16 feature a smaller size and hold 4, 8 and 16GB of flash memory, respectively. The 80GB Zune, the replacement for the Zune 30, is thinner and lighter. All the second generation Zunes have a Zune Pad instead of the simple directional pad that was included on the Zune 30. Microsoft released an upgrade for all Zune models, including the Zune 30, to the second generation software/firmware. On the back of all models it says "Hello From Seattle (Model #) Assembled in China", signifying that Microsoft is based in Seattle and the Zune is assembled in China.

In June 2008, Microsoft's Robbie Bach, in an interview with the SFGate said that a touch-operated Zune that will be "a cornerstone of what we do," is in the works. Although Microsoft has not yet officially announced the "Zune Touch", pictures surfaced on the web showing that the "Zune Touch" uses a similar interface as its predecessors. Those pictures turned out to be photoshopped Zune 80gb .[17]

[edit] Preloaded content

Zune featured preloaded content in both audio and video formats from various artists like BT, The Thermals, Paul Oakenfold, and CSS. Special editions featured their own unique set of content.

[edit] Specifications

Zune 30 Zune 4 Zune 8 Zune 16 Zune 80 Zune 120[18]
Size 2.4 × 4.4 × 0.58 inches/6.1 × 11.2 × 1.5 cm 1.6 × 3.6 × 0.33 inches/4.1 × 9.1 × 0.8 cm 2.4 × 4.25 × 0.5 inches/6.1 × 10.8 × 1.3 cm
Weight 5.6 ounces/158.8 g 1.7 ounces/47 g 4.5 ounces/127.6 g
Screen 3 inches/7.6 cm (240×320 pixels) 1.8 inches/4.6 cm (240×320 pixels) 3.2 inches/8.1 cm (240×320 pixels)
Storage 30GB HDD 4GB Flash 8GB Flash 16GB Flash 80GB HDD 120GB HDD
Wi-Fi Zune-to-Zune, sync with computer / wireless network / wireless multiplayer gaming / wireless shopping from Zune devices as of September 16, 2008 (with firmware update) Zune-to-Zune, sync with computer / wireless network / wireless multiplayer gaming / wireless shopping from Zune devices as of September 16, 2008
Colors Black (JS8-00001), brown (JS8-00003), white (JS8-00002), hot pink (JS8-00008), pink[19] Black (glossy black in 16GB only), green, red, pink, blue (8GB only in retail, 16GB through Zune Originals)[19] Black, red (previously available only as a Valentine's Day promotion, and later as a customization option for Zune Originals)[19] Black,[20] blue, red (Blue only available from the Zune Store)
Limited Editions Orange (JS8-00007),[21] Brown (Halo 3),[22] Red, Pink with Diamonds (Nylon Magazine),[23] Black (Halo 3,[24] Wisin & Yandel,[25] Adult Swim,[26] Microsoft Interns[27]) Citron 16GB (Zune Employees),[28] Gold 8GB (GOODS),[29] Black 8GB (Allen Iverson),[30] Green 4GB (2008 Democratic National Convention),[31] Red 4GB (2008 Republican National Convention)[31] Gold (GOODS),[29] Black (Joy Division)[32] Black (Gears of War 2)
Navigation Circular Directional Pad Zune Pad
Released November 2006 November 2007 September 2008 November 2007 September 2008
Price (USD at launch) $249.95 $149.99 $199.99 $199.00 $249.99 $249.99
Price (USD recommended today) $199.99 $99.99 $139.99 $179.00 $229.99 $249.99
Battery life (constant audio / constant video) 12 hours audio, 3.5 hours video 24 hours audio, 4 hours video 30 hours audio, 4 hours video 30 hours audio, 4 hours video

[edit] Accessories

The standard Zune comes with earphones and a USB data cable. The Zune 30 comes with these items plus a carrying bag, and the Zune 80 model adds upgraded "Zune Premium" headphones. Accessories sold separately include:

  • Charging devices (car adapter, AC wall-socket adapters, external battery).
  • I/O adapters (A/V composite, FM transmitters, headphones, USB data cable).
  • Docks (charging, multimedia large speaker, vertical hands-free assist).
  • Protection (glass screen protection, hardened/cushioning material case protection).
  • Carrying cases (standard issue, armband type, and belt clip).
  • Replacement parts and upgrades (battery, hard drive, LCD, etc.).

Among the firms that make Zune accessories are Microsoft, Altec Lansing, Belkin Corp., Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO), Dual Electronics, Griffin Technology, Harman Kardon and JBL, Integrated Mobile Electronics, Jamo International, Klipsch Audio Technologies, Logitech, Monster Cable Products Inc., Speck, Targus Group International Inc. and VAF Research.[33]

[edit] Firmware

Users often refer to on-device software as firmware, differing from the desktop media player as Zune software. Zune's operating system is based on Windows CE kernel for ARM architecture and uses a distribution like the Portable Media Center found on the Gigabeat S. Zune's native file compatible formats are

  • JPEG for images;
  • WMV is supported on all models, and MPEG-4 and H.264 are supported for video on all models except the Zune 30. The MPEG-4 and H.264 formats are automatically transcoded to WMV by the Zune software when syncing to a Zune 30;
  • MP3, AAC (.m4a), Zune Marketplace (restricted and DRM free), WMA Pro (2-channel), WMA Standard, WMA lossless for audio.

The graphical user interface (GUI) (called the "twist interface" by Microsoft) has sections for music, videos, pictures, social, radio, podcasts, marketplace, games and settings. It is said to provide "two-dimensional navigation" for scrolling through items with its directional pad.[34] In the music section, users can add songs to a quick playlist without reconnecting to the desktop software. In the picture section, the background can be personalized using any image stored on the device (for viewing) as wallpaper. In the radio section, users can receive and play FM radio internally, with North American, Japanese, and European tuning ranges and show song information on supported FM stations. In the social section, users can broadcast user profile and current activity to others nearby. In the setting section, users can control backlight settings and output analog TV in with purchase of a separate connection.

The first updates to the firmware added sharing features (send, community, list nearby Zune users) as described in FCC filings.[35][36] Firmware 1.1 allowed the device to inherit sharing capabilities described by codename Pyxis. Early firmware releases patched software bugs. About a year later, the much anticipated 2.2 firmware release added support for DVR-MS (Media Center Recorded TV) files, lossless playback, added wireless syncing, and GUI interface improvements.[citation needed]

Zune supports the Windows Media DRM (WMDRM) digital rights management system, which is not compatible with other DRM systems including Plays for Sure and is not part of the PlaysForSure platform or program.[37][38] Multimedia content is transferred through Media Transfer Protocol (MTP); however, its proprietary MTP extensions ("MTPZ") place an interoperability barrier between the Zune and previous MTP-based software.

[edit] Zune software

Zune software version 3.0.532.0 running in Windows Vista

The Zune software functions as management software for the device, a full media player application with a library, an interface to the Zune Marketplace, and as a media streaming server using Zune Network Sharing Service.[39]

The Zune device was designed to only work with the Zune software. The software synchronizes all content (music, videos, pictures, social, podcasts, and games) to the device doing any necessary transcoding for a file to play on the device.

As a media player, the Zune software supports the following formats — for audio: MP3 (.mp3), AAC (Low complexity) (.aac, .mp4, .m4a, .m4b, .mov), WMA (.wma); for video: MPEG4 (in .mp4, .m4v and .mov containers), H.264 (in .mp4, .m4v and .mov containers), WMV (.wmv), ASF (.asf); and for still images: JPEG (.jpg). It organizes the media in its library and allows users to add to the library by ripping from CDs and to organize the metadata. It can automatically pull down album art and metadata tag data for content in the library.

The Zune can be used as an e-book reader through third-party software such as Zune eBook Creator.

On the PC, the Zune Network Sharing Service streams files to other PCs, the Xbox 360, and other compatible devices. There is also an inbox feature in the desktop client software as well on the device, which keeps track of songs swapped with other Zune users. On the desktop client, the inbox also serves as a message center for Zune Social. Zune requires Windows XP or Vista.

[edit] History

The 1.0 versions were a modified version of Windows Media Player 11[citation needed] while versions since 2.0 are built independently with additional DirectShow decoders for AAC, MPEG-4 and H.264. The current version of the software is 3.1.620.0 released on November 18th, 2008. Several versions of the software have been released.

Date Software and firmware changes
1.0 1.0.5341.0
Zune 30 device original default
1.1  ? 2006-11-14 Added menu item “community” allowing to search for nearby Zunes, see their status, and transfer music and pictures. Improved performance.
1.2 1.2.5511.0 2006-12-19 Fixed compatibility with Windows Vista and improved browsing performance.[40]
1.3 1.3.5728.0 2007-03-28 Prevents FM tuner from draining the battery while the device is sleeping. Fixed Zune Marketplace music to not skip on the device. Improved device detection and syncing.[41]
1.4  ? 2007-05-31 Improved shuffling. The dev team states: “this firmware update makes successive shuffle actions produce more random lists.”[42]
2.0  ? 2007-11-13 Complete re-write of the software and firmware. Inclusion of "Social" features in both. Original device software version that is installed for the Zune 4GB, Zune 8GB, and the Zune 80GB.
2.1  ?  ? Enhances device functionality and performance.
2.2 2.1.888.0 2007-11-13 Improved performance and added several new features, including wireless sync and podcast support. New user interface on both the Zune device and the Zune software.[43]
2.3 2.1.888.2 2007-12-18 Resolves an issue in which the battery Zune80 and upgraded Zune30 would discharge prematurely due to difficulty entering sleep. Also includes improved device recognition and improved stability and reliability on sync (both wirelessly and while connected to a PC).[44] It has also been noted that the new firmware features the option to unsubscribe from a podcast right on the device. This can be activated by bringing up the menu during a podcast play and selecting “unsubscribe”. This feature was originally slated to be part of the original consumer release of the 2.x firmware (several reviewers described having this option), but it was removed.
2.4 2.3.1338.0 2008-01-22 Resolves a number of issues including problems with marketplace, podcasts, sync, Xbox streaming, and library problems.[citation needed]
2.5 2.5.447.0 2008-05-06 TV show downloads now available from Marketplace. Also adds new features such as gapless playback, smart playlists, new sorting options, multiple device syncing, and support for XNA (Xbox game developers will be able to load custom code using the XNA platform). Zune Social is better integrated, and users with Windows Live Messenger can display which song is being played to people in their buddy list.[citation needed] Video podcasts can be shared wirelessly between Zunes, allowing the receiving Zune owner to subscribe to a podcast on-the-go.[45]
3.0 3.0.532.0 2008-09-16 Buy from FM allows songs played from FM radio stations to be purchased from the Marketplace (using RDBS data). Wireless hotspot access added for automatically updating the user's collection, browsing the Marketplace, refreshing Channels, exchanging favorites with friends, or buying songs tagged from the device's FM radio. Zune Channels, custom programming stations that deliver personalized playlists to Zune from a variety of sources the user selects (such as music experts, celebrities, or top radio stations), is added. A clock, screen lock feature, and free games (Texas Hold'em and Hexic) are added. The "quick list" has been replaced with a "now playing" list, which functions differently from the previous "quick list".
3.1 3.1.620.0 2008-11-18 Checkers, Sudoku, and Space Battle are added to games. A new multiplayer mode and single-player difficulty levels are added to Texas Hold'em. Visual changes have been made to Zune Social, making it easier to navigate. Like-Minded Listeners feature added to social, allowing users to compare their music tastes to others. Improved play count reporting, content synchronization, and other bug fixes in both the hardware and software.

[edit] Zune 30 leap year bug

At approximately midnight Pacific Standard Time, on the morning of December 31, 2008, many [46] first generation Zune 30 models running 3.0 and 3.1 firmware were reported to have automatically rebooted and frozen during the boot process.[47][48] Microsoft has stated that the problem is with the internal clock driver and the way the device handles a leap year; with an intermediate official "fix" to drain the device battery and then recharge after 12 noon GMT on January 1, 2009.[49] Specifically, a third party analysis of the clock driver's source code revealed an infinite loop in the way the clock driver calculates years based on a given number of elapsed days.[50]

[edit] Zune Marketplace

The Zune Marketplace is an online music, video and podcast store that integrates with the software. Initially offering two million songs it grew to more than three million songs. With the update to version 2.5 the Zune Marketplace also offers TV shows for download and music videos are properly distinguished and sectioned. Music on the marketplace is provided by the big four music groups (EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group) and smaller music labels. TV shows are provided by NBC. Like other tech companies in the music business, the Zune team at Microsoft has a team of music experts responsible for the Zune marketplace editorial content and programming. The team is led by Kyle Hopkins (also known as DJ "Kid Hops" on KEXP-FM).[51] Music is offered in DRM-restricted WMA format (2-pass CBR @ 192kbit/s) or non-DRM MP3 format (up to 320kbit/s) for a per-song or per-album fee, or via a Zune Pass monthly/quarterly subscriptions.

Songs downloaded from the Marketplace are restricted by DRM similar to yet slightly different from PlaysForSure DRM, meaning that songs purchased from PlaysForSure partners could not be playable in Zune Software or on the Zune device, although the reverse is true. Several entities have criticized the Zune for not playing PlaysForSureContent, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[52] Internally, Zune DRM is referred to as "9.1", differentiating itself from PlaysForSure DRM, which is version "9". While removal of PlaysForSure DRM has been facilitated with several tools, none would remove Zune DRM until July 14, 2007 when one of the tools ("FairUse4WM" [Windows Media]) was updated to support removal of the Zune DRM wrapper. As of September 6th, 2007, an update from Microsoft has broken FairUse4WM once again, with the effect that anyone with the updated license cannot remove the DRM. Updating the Zune software to the most recent version (3.1 as of November 2008) will not affect previously functioning DRM components.

Purchases are made through a system called Microsoft Points, in which users prepay US$5 for a block of 400 points that can be applied to downloads at 79 points per song. This works out to $0.9875 per song, plus whatever remainder is left after a user makes his or her final purchase from the Marketplace. Cost and minimum purchase varies with foreign currency exchange rates and taxes. The points used for the Zune Marketplace are the same points used to buy media from the Xbox Live Marketplace. Purchased songs can be burned as a regular CD audio.

As an alternative to Microsoft Points, the Zune Pass is a subscription service that allows users to pay a flat monthly fee of US$14.99 (as of November 2008). Zune Pass subscribers can download unlimited music from the Zune Marketplace. Microsoft has also added some television shows from major networks such as NBC and FOX. Zune Pass downloads cannot be burned to audio CD unless purchased, and become unplayable if the subscription lapses, or if in the future Microsoft should decide to discontinue the service. The Zune pass allows for 3 Zunes to share the downloaded DRM content as well as the content to be downloaded on up to 3 computers.[53] A 14-day free Zune Pass is made available upon creating a Zune account. As of November, 2008, Zune Pass subscribers are also able to keep 10 songs per month. This is offered in the form of a 10-song credit each month that doesn't rollover. The songs can be purchased as DRM-free MP3 files, when available.

Microsoft said it reached agreements with Sony BMG and Universal Music Group to offer those labels' songs in MP3 format free of digital rights management (DRM) technology restrictions. These downloads join DRM-free MP3 tracks from EMI Music and Warner Music Group and major independent labels, the company said. With the announcement, almost 90 percent of Zune download tracks are available in DRM-free MP3, with additional Sony MBG and Universal tracks "soon" expanding the DRM-free selection to 90 percent of the Zune Marketplace download store, a spokesman said.[54] These songs do not have watermarks intended to identify the person who initially purchased the song.[55] Music Videos and Podcasts were also added to the Marketplace. Podcasts however, are offered free of charge even to non-Zune Pass subscribers.

The Zune 3.0 firmware allows the device to purchase songs from the marketplace while connected to a wireless access point. To help push this feature, Microsoft partnered with Wayport to allow the Zune access to its network of over 10,000 wireless hotspots, including McDonald's restaurants.[56]

[edit] Sales and marketing

[edit] Marketing

Microsoft launched several campaigns to jump-start the Zune. The company had a major campaign to promote Zune with "Music the way it wants to be" as a major theme and “Welcome to the social” as an advertisement tagline. Also, the company enlisted about 300 “Zune masters” to advertise the device on American college campuses, to promote the item, and to run Zune-related events. In exchange, they received free merchandise, including a Zune.[57]

Additionally, Microsoft launched an attempt at "viral marketing" with its "comingzune" site, complete with several videos in succession.[58] Along with ZuneInsider, and several other ad hoc events, Microsoft hoped to generate buzz for the product outside of the normal marketing avenues, and market its product as a part of a social construct.[59]

The choice of branding and distribution were part of the Zune as a decision of "two strategies in the market right now: cross-brand ecosystems... and singular brand ecosystems... The former is gaining in share and units sold, but the latter has enormous share and won't give that up easily."[38]

Microsoft normally follows a platform (cross-brand) strategy, as exemplified by the PlaysForSure system. However, its Xbox division has gained some experience with the vertically-integrated strategy in which it controls everything end-to-end from the hardware to the online store. With Apple dominating the audio market with its vertically-integrated iPod system, the Xbox division won permission to try the same approach, separately from PlaysForSure and PlayReady.

Microsoft also wanted to go beyond Apple’s efforts and promote the tagline "the social" and Wi-Fi (wireless sharing) as key differentiators. Chris Stephenson, leader of Zune's marketing and manager of Global Marketing for the Entertainment Business,[60] said, "we see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together."[38] New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker agrees that the Zune's "community and togetherness seem like a reasonable counterpunch to iPod's supposed attraction as an individuality enabler that allows owners to wallow in their own tasteful personal soundtracks." But he also sees the Zune as having gained appeal as an individualistic statement against the omnipresent iPod: "The most salient feature of the Zune seems to be that it's not an iPod".[61]

Microsoft also released a Zune theme for Windows XP that replaced the appearance of the operating system. This theme includes an orange Start button and black taskbar/Start menu.

Zune has also expanded its brand efforts by creating a gen-y friendly website and campaign focused on emerging artist talent: Zune Arts

MySpace has added the feature to label music players on personal profiles to Zune-themed or a red Zune 8.

[edit] Sales

NPD Group
Zune's hard disk unit share
Dec '06 Jan '07 Feb March April May
10.2%[62] 9.9%[62] 8.7% 9.1% 9.2% 11.3%

During its launch week, the original Zune, now Zune 30, was the second-most-sold portable media device with a 9% unit share in the United States; behind the market-leading iPod's 63%.[63] For the first 6 months after launch, NPD Group figures show that the Zune 30 achieved approximately 10% [62][64][65] market share in the Hard Drive based MP3 market and 3%[66][67][68] in the overall MP3 player market. According to Bloomberg Television 1.2 million Zune 30 players were sold between November 2006 and June 2007,[69] surpassing a milestone.[70] A price drop on Amazon.com during November 2007 temporarily boosted the brown Zune 30 to the top Sales Rank in electronics.

On May 6, 2008, Microsoft announced that it had sold just over 2 million Zunes. Roughly one million of those were sold since the second generation Zunes launched in November 2007.[71]

On May 22, 2008, It was reported that GameStop "has decided to stop selling Microsoft's Zune players at its stores due to what it sees as insufficient demand from customers." A statement issued by Adam Sohn, Zune marketing manager said "We have a set of great partnerships ... Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and others."[72]

In January, 2009 Microsoft's quarterly earnings filing with the SEC indicated that Zune sales had fallen $100 million from 2007 to 2008 during the fourth quarter of the calendar year. The Wall Street Journal estimated that sales appear to have dropped from about $185 million during the holiday period in 2007 to just $85 million in 2008. This may be due to the company's decision not to substantially update the Zune hardware in the fall of 2008.[73]

[edit] Availability outside the U.S.

Microsoft released the Zune to Canadian consumers on June 13, 2008, marking the first time it will be available outside the U.S.[74] A Microsoft spokesperson said a European launch might not occur until 2009.[75][76] Microsoft has even made efforts to ban visitors outside the U.S. from http://www.zuneoriginals.net. Users wishing to sign up for a Zunetag can easily circumvent most problems by signing up for a US based account.[77]

According to Microsoft France's Francois Ruault, Zune will debut in Europe fall 2009, along with the release of the third generation Zune[78]

The Zune 2.0–3.* firmware does not support non-romanized fonts other than Cyrillic. East Asian characters used in Chinese and Japanese, for example, show up on the Zune device as small boxes instead of characters. Microsoft's Zune desktop software has no problem with Unicode. Users have improvised ways to downgrade the firmware on the Zune device to older version that support Asian characters (V1 Zunes can be hacked to display Asian font).

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Microsoft. "Microsoft to Put Zune Experience in Consumers’ Hands on Nov. 14". http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/sep06/09-28ZunePricingAvailabilityPR.mspx. 
  2. ^ Microsoft. "Microsoft Release Date For Zune 4, 8, 80 Set For November 13". http://www.zune.net/en-US/products/buyNow/z/zune80gbblack/. 
  3. ^ Microsoft. "Zune Takes Music Discovery to the Next Level With New Ways to Find and Access Digital Music". http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2008/sep08/09-08ZuneFallUpdatePR.mspx. 
  4. ^ Christine Persaud. "New Features for Zune". http://www.marketnews.ca/news_detail.asp?nid=4048. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft, chasing Apple, adds TV shows to Zune Marketplace". http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080506/microsoft_zune_video.html. 
  6. ^ Fried, Ina (2006-07-25). "Swan song for Microsoft’s music allies?". CNET. http://news.com.com/Swan+song+for+Microsofts+music+allies/2100-1041_3-6097935.html. 
  7. ^ http://www.zune.net/en-us/software/zunepass/default.htm
  8. ^ Menta, Richard (2007-10-03). "Zune 2 Unveiled". MP3 Newswire. http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/7002/zune-gen2.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-03. 
  9. ^ "Microsoft’s new Zunes: officially in 80, 8, and 4GB sizes". Engadget. http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/02/microsofts-new-zunes-officially-in-80-8-and-4gb-sizes/. 
  10. ^ Miller, Paul (2006-08-25). "Zune revealed by FCC as “Toshiba 1089”". Engadget. http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/25/fcc-reveals-toshiba-1089-and-its-looking-a-whole-lot-like-a/. Retrieved on 2007-01-03. 
  11. ^ Dudley, Brier (2006-07-10). "Argo aims guns at more than iPod". Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003116550_brier10.html. Retrieved on 2007-03-30. 
  12. ^ Oswald, Ed (2006-07-20). "October Debut for Microsoft 'iPod Killer'". BetaNews. http://www.betanews.com/article/October_Debut_for_Microsoft_iPod_Killer/1153418667. Retrieved on 2007-05-05. 
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  14. ^ http://www.zune.net/en-US/entertainment/audiobooks/default.htm Download audiobooks from sites powered by OverDrive.com, including over 7,500 public libraries.
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