Microsoft To Counter Apple With Zune Phone?

    February 1, 2007

The buzz surrounding the announcement of Apple’s iPhone has reached feverish proportions throughout the blogosphere in recent weeks. Not wanting to be left out of the smartphone party, rumors are now circulating that Microsoft is working on plans to develop its own Zune branded cellular phone.

It’s a natural move for Microsoft, given the overwhelming success of the Zune and the never-ending streams of praise that have been heaped upon the company’s answer to the iPod.

Wait a minute. That’s only the case if you’ve been living in Bizarro World for the past year.

The unsavory truth is that rumors of a Zune phone will most likely leave both analysts and consumers scratching their collective heads in confusion. The Zune has been met with little fanfare, so there’s no reason for me to believe that a phone carrying the same moniker would do any better.

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over but expecting different results. Perhaps Microsoft would do well to heed this bit of sage-like wisdom.

Nonetheless, CrunchGear broke the story this afternoon concerning the Zune phone. The rumor is yet unconfirmed by Microsoft, but Blake Robinson says, “This information is as definite as tips can be.”

What can we expect from the Zune phone? Any talk of specific product details is a bit premature, but the CrunchGear report does shed some light into what the Zune phone would be able to do:

Connectivity is the major concern of the device. It is said that it will be able to sync with the Xbox 360 and stream video from the system to the phone via a wireless data connection. This would be pivotal in Microsoft’s proliferation of its media ambitions. Not only does it already have millions of 360s in homes capable of downloading movies, it’d be able to distribute those videos directly to its phones.

Integration is an attractive feature, but is it enough to leverage the product against Apple’s iPhone?

In a market where Microsoft is already at a decided disadvantage, the Zune phone had better be able to do more than just connect to the Xbox 360 to stream video content. It needs to be sleek, have a large storage capacity, conserve battery power, and most importantly should be affordable.

Price point might be the one area in which Microsoft could truly compete with Apple in the mobile phone market. The iPhone could cost anywhere from $600-$800; that’s a pretty penny to ask anyone to shell out for a mobile device. If the Zune phone hits the streets at a lower cost, it might stand a chance.

Of course, I’m putting the cart before the horse here. I’d actually like to see the phone before I make any further remarks.

Add to | Digg | Reddit | Furl

Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.