As expected, the next gen of Zune was announced tonight: three new players timed to hit stores in mid-November: two flash models — 4GB ($149) and 8GB ($199) – and an 80GB ($249) hard-drive model. The current 30GB model launched at $249 list.
Chief among the new or enhanced features: wireless syncing via WiFi from PC to Zune, more expansive wireless music sharing, and — perhaps the most important from our perspective — automatic import of TV shows recorded to the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Windows Media Center baked into most editions of Vista. Still no video sales in Zune Marketplace but the company is adding 1 million DRM-free songs to the market place. Not clear at this point: how much of this will be available to current Zune users through firmware or software updates. (Note: For first-gen owners like me, AP says first-gen models will get a software update this fall; amount of added functionality still unclear.)
Reuters: J Allard, the Microsoft corporate VP responsible for Zune, addressed the market share issue (sort of): “”The market share thing is the easy thing to discuss and write about, but it’s such a bad measure. Talk to me in six or seven years about market share. Talk to me this year about the experience we are creating.” The company is still talking about a 3-4 year window for Zune to gain scale and isn’t expecting a short-term profit.
Also in an interview , Allard explained why Zune is steering away from wireless songbuying for now — in part, to get around spotty WiFi — but said “we