Thursday, September 14, 2006
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 04:59 PM
"Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday a Zune-branded phone is part of its future plans to expand in the digital music market, now dominated by Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod. "A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand," Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, told reporters at a news conference. He did not give specific details."
Bomb...dropped. A Zune phone? That sure came out of left field - what about Windows Mobile and Smartphones? If the Zune brand is a Microsoft "we build it" solution, that means Chris Stephenson is saying that Microsoft is going to build their own phones. That's one wild concept when you consider the impact it might have on Windows Mobile, all the partners Microsoft has, the carriers, and everyone else invested in the current offering. What about Photon, the next-generation version of Windows Mobile? This simple statement from Chris Stepheson is a bombshell - and it spawns dozens of questions.
My five-minutes-of-thinking-about-it take? Windows Mobile will continue moving forward, and Photon will stay on track. The Zune phone will be a narrow solution specifically aimed at the music-loving phone users, and be 100% entertainment-centric, lacking in the personal information management goodies we've come to expect from Windows Mobile phones. It will have a great media experience, but will be closer to a feature phone than a real Smartphone. In fact, I'm guessing it will be application-locked just like Portable Media Centers are - meaning no third party applications can be installed on it. So, in some ways, it will just be a really slick "dumbphone".
I asked a Microsoft spokesperson for an official response, and here's what he said: "Zune is all about connecting people to their music. It makes sense that Zune could be a part of a phone experience. But there has been no determination of how that will be executed or when it will happen."
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 02:45 PM
Today I was fortunate to be one of only two Zune sites involved in a conference call with Chris Stephenson, General Manager of Global Marketing for the Zune. Along with one other Zune site (Zunerama
) I was able to get 30 minutes of time with Chris to ask a variety of questions. I'll be unravelling that information over the rest of today - there's a lot to discuss.
First up, I was able to ask some technical questions about the Zune, because those details were sorely lacking from all the press materials released today. Here are the highlights:
- The three inch screen is 320 x 240 in resolution
- Video CODECS supported: WMV, H.264, MPEG4
- Video is limited to 320 x 240 currently, but they are discussing options for higher resolution video support
- Supported bit rates for video haven't been finalized at this time
- Audio CODECS supported: non-FairPlay AAC, WMA, MP3
- Chris was unable to confirm if the battery was 700 mAH as the FCC documents indicated, but I believe that will be the case
- The battery life is still in flux due to last-minute firmware adjustments, but Chris said that compared to the iPod the battery is quicker to reach full charge, quicker to partial charge, and is "very comparable" to the video playback time on the newly announced iPods - I'm hoping that means around six hours of video playback, which would be impressive indeed
- The Zune battery is built-in and not user replaceable
- The Zune player is 5.6 ounces in weight, 4.4 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide and 0.58 inches thick. By comparison, the iPod is 0.47 inches thick. By way of comparison, my Zen Vision:M is 5.8 ounces, 4 inches tall, and 1 inch thick. So I can definitely say that I don't think the Zune is too thick, especially while serving up that bigger screen
- WiFi is 802.11b/g, and Chris described the WiFi as being "on when you need it, off when you don't" - I assume that means it has a very aggressive sleep state that will minimize the battery impact
- Photo support is JPEG so far, I have no further details at this time
That's about it for the technical details - next up I'll talk about the Zune vision and where Microsoft wants to take this product. Any technical details you'd still like to know? Post your questions and I'll try to get some answers!