Yesterday afternoon I witnessed a great interview between Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of gadget blog Engadget. The event of course celebrated the launch of Windows 7, but Windows Mobile (6.5 and 7), Zune HD, and Microsoft’s cloud computing initiatives were all hot topics, and each were discussed at some length. Read more...
"What is Zune HD? Zune HD is a couple things. Number one, Zune HD is a music player with a nice music service. By the way, the same software will be available on Windows Phones and Windows PCs. You have that today on the PC, you'll see that in our phone environment as well."
Straight from Ballmer's mouth to your eyes and ears. Ballmer dropped this tasty morsel during an interview with CNET. Now of course there is no mention of WHEN, but like pocketnow.com, I believe it won't happen until the Windows Mobile 7 OS launches. Even the most powerful of the current crop of Windows Mobile devices probably would choke on a full Zune HD experience.
This is, without a question, excellent news. Microsoft desperate needs to integrate its different platforms in an intelligent way and this is absolutely one of them. I no longer use Windows Mobile (I switched to Android almost a year ago) and I was just saying today I can't see a reason I'd come back. This could be a reason. This would be a major upgrade over WMP at least!
Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:45 AM
After a few minutes of beatboxing and a seemingly enthusiastic Gary Shapiro introducing Steve Ballmer on to the stage, Microsoft's keynote was under way. This was Ballmer's first keynote at CES since taking over from Bill Gates, who delivered it for the first time almost 15 years ago and has traditionally done so up until last year. The question on everyone's mind was whether this keynote would be as memorable as the last. In a time when the very word, "recession", strikes fear into both consumers and businesses, would Microsoft have enough up its sleeve to turn 2009 into a year of ambition, innovation, and prosperity?
In a little under nine hours, Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach will deliver the Microsoft keynote at CES. What's in store for Windows, Windows Mobile, Windows Live, Office, the Xbox 360, and Zune? You'll have to tune in at 6:30 PM (PST) to find out, or simply wait for our post-keynote report. Whatever tickles your fancy.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle: Wednesday, 6:30 PM
A: It's not a concept you'll ever get from us. We're in the Windows Mobile business. We wouldn't define our phone experience just by music. A phone is really a general purpose device. You want to make telephone calls, you want to get and receive messages, text, e-mail, whatever your preference is. The phone really is kind of a general purpose device that we need to have clean and easy to use. "
Despite rampant rumors of an impending Zune phone, even dating prior to before the initial Zune launch, Steve Ballmer has recently nay-sayed that idea in a USA Today interview. Does Ballmer's comments mean we will never see a Zune Phone device? Maybe Microsoft has decided to play a wait-and-see game with the iPhone and judge its success before jumping on the band wagon. Or maybe his comments indicate Microsoft doesn't intend to produce a dedicated Zune Phone device, but rather they are looking at adding a software based Zune "client" to their existing or future Smartphone devices. What are your thoughts on Ballmer's Zune Phone comments?
"Microsoft Corp. plans to add a video-sharing feature to its Zune player and will eventually sell a model that combines the device with a phone, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said. The video function would probably be used to transfer content created by Zune customers, Ballmer said in an interview today from Redmond, Washington. He declined to comment on when Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, would add video sharing or announce a phone model."
We were only just talking about future-proofing a couple of hours ago, and look, Microsoft has already outlined one of its plans. The Zune phone isn't news, though the bit about video sharing is. Ballmer's description makes it sound almost like an offline YouTube, which I have to admit, is pretty interesting, though what Microsoft really needs to focus on first is getting more Zune devices out into the market (and I'm talking on a global scale), so that the mass sharing that it has in mind can turn from concept into reality.
"...our ability to embrace and benefit from or compete with new business models - and I would say ad-funded and open source, more than this hardware thing - is more the way to categorize the key competitive dynamic for us. [Does Zune fit into the hardware piece of this?] Sure it does. Because the value of Zune, if we're successful, is all in the software. It's in community [the ability to share music and pictures with other Zune users]. I want to squirt you a picture of my kids. You want to squirt me back a video of your vacation. That's a software experience. The truth is, though, if it makes money, it will be built into the gross margin on the hardware. We'll figure out how to make money on the community perhaps later though advertising or other means."
Steve Ballmer took time out recently to talk to BusinessWeek about the Zune, Xbox, and Windows Vista - where they're at now, and where they're heading. One of the major points to come out of the interview was the claim that the Zune, unlike the Xbox 360, would not be losing money through the sale of hardware alone. That's good news for Microsoft's accountants, but comes across as an awful lot less risk-taking by the company, though that's not necessarily a bad thing either. There's a time and place for gambling, and you certainly have to pick the right moment before taking the plunge and relying on the sale of accessories and media to cover any monetary losses in the sale of hardware - especially at this current stage, when the Zune brand is a mere blip on the radar, and demand is well short of that of the iPod.