You couldn’t make it up. … In an interview published over the weekend with German business weekly Wirtschafts Woche, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appeared to say Europe would not now seen the Zune player until 2008. The release had previously been expected this fall; the apparent delay was attributed to losing money due to heavy investment. But Ballmer’s PR people now say the report was wrong, having incorrectly translated to German the interview he gave in English. VNU: “A Microsoft spokesperson told vnunet.com that Ballmer was ’emphasizing that we do intend to launch into Europe, but there is no time and no date‘.”
Incorrect or otherwise, the episode does highlight the continued delay in bringing Zune to market in Europe. The device launched in the US alone in November 2006 and Microsoft spokespeople have previously acknowledged that the hoped-for late-2007 European shipping date could slide to next year. Without a confirmed timeline, there is no reason to believe the player will or will not see the light of day in ’07. Zune marketing GM Chris Stephenson in January told the Midem music industry conference in Cannes to expect the Zune in Europe around the same time Microsoft releases new Flash-based models in the range. Could it be that they are writing off a European debut for Zune 1.0 in favor of the expanded 2.0 line-up?