Today Microsoft announced that they will be releasing the Zune Player on Nov. 14th and dropping the price to $249.99. This after Microsoft was thrown into a tizzy when Apple announced that its next generation iPod would retail for $249 and speculation started to swirl about what the final price of the Zune would have to be in order for it move off shelves. The original price of the ZUNE ($284), was leaked by WalMart and many laughed at the viability of the Zune making headway against the iPod at this price point.
Now that Microsoft was put a date and a price on its player all thats left is to cross its fingers and hope someone cares. The official Microsoft press release is here. My unofficial interpretation of a few lines from the press release follows.
What they said:“Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) is putting the social into digital music, starting this holiday.”
What they meant: Were rushing a product to market that will spread DRM infected files like a venereal disease.
What they said: “The Zune device will retail for $249.99 U.S. (ERP) and will create new ways for entertainment fans to connect and share media experiences device-to-device through the use of wireless technology and new software scenarios.”
What they Meant: We are willing to loose money for as long as it takes to have something that will provide an alternative to the iPod and appeal to you cheap bastards.
What they said: “In addition, consumers can choose from a full line of accessories to enhance the Zune experience and help Zune users enjoy their entertainment where they want to, at home or on the road. Accessories range in price from $19.99 to $99.99.”
What they Meant: We strong armed some suppliers into creating a few accessories to help us try and move product and create the illusion of an ecosystem around our product.”
What they said: “On Nov. 14 we’re delivering not only a device, but a shared, social experience that will be shaped by the collective imagination of consumers,”
What they Meant: You’ll take what we give you and like it. You’ll dream about what we offer and you’ll want what we sell.
What they said: “We’re offering a compelling experience right out of the box and providing customers with a solid base to customize and personalize their entertainment,” Stephenson said. “This is just the beginning.”
What they Meant: The beginning of the end for you iPod loving, music sharing, MP3 ripping, technophiles out there.
The price drop is a good start for Microsoft as they try to leap frog five generations past the iPod with their first generation Zune. Wifi is a good first step but since its crippled by DRM thats more likely to frustrate and annoy users its value is significantly reduced. Its probably to early to call the Zune dead-on-arrival and its certainly going to hurt the MusicGremlin’s sales this holiday season, but the Zune’s impact on the iPod is likely to be the same as this post impact on Microsoft’s stock price.