While no one can accurately predict how the Zune will fare this holiday season, one can guarantee that it will take a piece of the considerable market share now enjoyed by the iPod.
Microsoft is currently in the midst of celebrating the U.S. launch of the Zune digital media player and Zune Marketplace music service. The celebration consists of six free concerts in public parks and plazas in urban centers across the country.
At the inaugural concert in Seattle, Gates outlined the Zune vision of creating new ways for people to connect, discover and share music. Gates demonstrated that through Zune-to-Zune managed wireless sharing, consumers are empowered to promote and sample tracks, thus increasing exposure for artists. The service logs the music that people have shared, making it easier to purchase the songs they like the next time they synch up their player. Consumers are allowed to play these shared, full-length sample tracks up to three times in three days.
Staffed with music writers and editors, the Zune Marketplace will make if easier for customers to discover and purchase new music. Zune Marketplace will feature music from many major and independent labels and publishers. Subscription plans allow users to purchase individual tracks or get a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as they want for a flat fee.
Released mere days before Black Friday, the Zune will be yet another option for those looking to spend their technology dollars. The Zune will come pre-loaded with some initial content from various record labels prior to sale. Retailing for $249.99, the Zune player is now available.