"Coinciding with the scheduled Zune.net maintenance today, a new Zune software update was also released (version 188.8.131.52 for those playing along at home). What might appear as just a regular software update is actually hiding a very big secret. The elusive 'Zune Phone' is pretty much confirmed... there are three unique class IDs and specifically Product IDs (PID) that identify three potential “Zune Phone” models (not storage capacities) off the bat. My bet is that they’re not just capacity variants (since various Zune capacities are all grouped under the same PID), but three actual hardware SKUs."
Long Zhen never fails to disappoint. The amateur coder and proprietor of istartedsomething.com cracked open the new Zune 4.2 software to reveal driver support for three upcoming phone models. Though the hardware ID listed shows Microsoft as the manufacturer there's no indication that they're the rumored Zune phone (which Microsoft has gone on record severaltimes to deny.) So they could just be generic Windows Mobile 7 phones, right? Well not exactly. As we learned from the Palm Pre-masquerading as an iPod so it could sync with iTunes debacle a few months back, the USB-IF doesn't allow hardware vendors to mask their associations with the drivers, meaning that it looks like Microsoft is planning to release a hardware device afterall.
ZuneBoards seems to think these unnamed devices have something to do with Project Pink, specifically the Premium Mobile eXperiences division (PMX) and two Danger-designed devices, Pure and Turtle--a story first broke by Microsoft Watch's Mary Jo Foley. Refrences in a Zune library function pointing to a type of device called PmxPure and PmxTurtle seem to support this theory as well. Right now Microsoft is remaining fairly tight-lipped about their phone plans. Hopefully we'll see the strategy begin to coalesce around next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
There’s been some crazy rumors flying around today at Engadget about what Windows Phone 7 will be bringing in the way of its multimedia experience. Namely that the media oriented phones will be bringing a Zune experience to the table. While I’ve been out of the Windows Mobile game since I got my G1, this would be great news for the platform, if true. The media experience on the Windows Mobile platform is definitely way behind everyone else.
I think it’s even better news for Zune. I know plenty of people who have Windows Mobile phones who don’t also have a Zune. Subscription music combined with a 3G connection would be a pretty awesome combination.
I hope the rumor is true because I think Windows Mobile (or whatever they want to call it these days) desperately needs something to help it get competitive again. And Zune really needs to be better integrated into Microsoft’s other product lines. Maybe we’ll finally start to see the Zune platform live up to some of the promises that were made years ago when the Zune 30 launched.
Microsoft has a new Twitter account called Office The Movie that is giving info and registration links for the tech preview of Office 2010 later this year. They also have two posts about the Zune though. I am not sure what the Zune has to do with Office, unless there is either a Zune Phone in the works that will sync with Office in some way, but MS keeps denying a Zune Phone. Another option is the Zune engine in Windows Mobile, replacing Windows Media Player. Here is the specific information:
Roughly 3pm ET on May 11th - June 2009 will be an important month for Zune lovers.
Roughly 2am ET on May 12th - @Gilly2468 @Chimerica @clubdirthill @serenecloud New product launch, that's all I'm allowed to say. Hold off from buying an iPhone/Pre. :)
Make of it what you will, and follow OfficeTheMovie on Twitter to see if they give any more information.
Update: This Twitter account was a fake, which you can see if you look at it now, so once again, any rumors of Zune Phone or similar are dashed. Sorry for the alert. Move along. Nothing to see here. These aren't the droid you are looking for. For what it is worth, Microsoft now has an official Twitter account for Office 2010. When I posted this, Microsoft was linking to the fake account.
"Remember the MS Zune phone we were talking about earlier? Remember how it didn't show up at 3GSM like we said? Word has leaked to the Inquirer that the phone is still a go, and design mavens everywhere will be glad to know that the people who brought you the chocolate Zune are going to do a phone. Iphones are going to become obsolete, and large, square, heat-shielded, and heavily-reinforced pockets will be coming back into style."
The Inquirer does their usual hatchet job with acidic efficiency, but beneath the usual anti-Microsoft tirades, the following rumour emerges: Flextronics, the company that created the current generation of Zunes for Microsoft, is creating 2500 prototype Zunes. Separately, The Inquirer mentions that NVIDIA is going to announce something new at the CTIA convention tomorrow, though there's no apparent connection to the Zune. The good news for us is that prototype Zune = new hardware, so unlike this past holiday season, it looks as though there's a new generation of hardware on the way. But here's the key point: there's no indication that it's going to be a phone, and any speculation to that point is just idle pondering.
"Microsoft says absolutely not, but an analyst memo posted on All Things D claims we could see a Microsoft phone at Mobile World Congress later this month in Barcelona. Update: Zune Marketing Exec Brian Seitz says he's heard nothing about a Microsoft Branded phone launching at any upcoming shows, which seems to rule out the possiblilty of it being a Zune Phone, if anything at all."
OK, repeat after me: there is no Zune phone. There is no Zune phone. There never will be a Zune phone, unless Microsoft wanted to completely destroy their Windows Mobile business. Move along people, there's nothing to see here...
"Microsoft will have a bunch of stuff to show at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but a rumored ZunePhone won't be one of them, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Instead, much of CEO Steve Ballmer's focus will be on talking about Windows 7 from a consumer perspective. Microsoft is pushing to have Windows 7 done in time for the holiday 2009 shopping season, so that means this CES is Ballmer's best stage to tout its benefits."
Ina Fried claims to have the skinny on the latest Zune Phone/Codename Pink rumors. According to Ina's recent CNET News article, Steve Ballmer won’t be unveiling this exciting new device at the biggest consumer electronics show of the year. This is one of the times where I hope Ina's sources are wrong as this mythical Zune Phone that somehow managed to make the blog rounds again has finally breathed some excitement into the world of Windows Mobile. I for one will be keeping my fingers crossed and hope something new and exciting gets unveiled at CES.
"Blogger Chris Lanier is now reporting that we will soon be hearing details of a "Zune integrated with a phone later this year. Some might call it a ZunePhone, but whatever you call it know that it is for real and has a dedicated team at Microsoft now creating the v1 product." Although I'm not ruling it out (Microsoft has denied product launches and then has done them anyway before), I really doubt that this is the ZunePhone device that so many have suggested is on its way."
As much as I want this to be true, I just can't see it happening - there's so much more that Microsoft needs to do to make the Zune an even better media playback device; attacking the phone aspect would just be too much, too soon. And the damage it would do to the Windows Mobile business would be massive - unless, maybe, this was positioned in such a way that it was purely an entertainment phone and didn't edge into the business side of things where Windows Mobile plays. But when the iPhone has ActiveSync and can sync with an Exchange server, how could the Zune Phone not match that type of functionality? It's all wild speculation at this point, but until I see some serious proof of a Zune Phone, I'm not going to believe a word of it. What do you think?
"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."