Zune 2.0: the Empire Strikes Back

I've already covered that the Zune is expected in Europe in the end of 2007 along with more Zune variants. What I haven't covered, however, is the juicy speculation and rumours that have charged in after the respectable facts. A flash-based version of the player is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2007. Microsoft also hopes to roll out a 12GB model, if the NAND flash memory market can make the jump (which ironically is driven by the iPod nano's success).

Microsoft's media business chief Chris Stephenson stated that he envisions retail locations that already host WiFi hotspots, where Zune users could fill up on music over the air. He also said that the company is looking into more ways for users to "cache and download on the go." Speculations are around full sharing of subscription music over WiFi, but with the RIAA, I don't see that happening. Fully enabled WiFi is what the customers want, will Microsoft deliver this time around? Rumours believe so. Next on the gossip list is a portable version of Internet Explorer on the next version of the Zune. Apple's upcoming iPhone will allow web browsing via WiFi, as does the Sony PSP. Should the Microsoft follow suit with the Zune?

One thing is certain. The Zune needs features that other portable mp3 players have as well as features they do not. Otherwise, Microsoft won't go anywhere with this hardware release, unlike the Xbox 360.

Link: Neowin Forum Discussion (Thanks NeoFlux)
News source: Ars Technica

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bmchan said,
What they really need to do is have it work with PlaysForSure, i.e. work with Napster or even Rhapsody.

Won't happen. It's been stated before by MS why too. If they do that, then the Zune directly competes with their own business partners, not really a wise business decision.

It's competing with their partners products anyway. Theyre all selling MP3 but now MS is also competing with its partners that sell music via services where if the Zune allowed for play for sure they could at least somewhat work together (theyd still be competing but at least they are aiming to ship for the same product)

Fully enabled Wi-Fi would be a killer feature.... imagine fully sharing subscription tracks over the air and adding to that a recommendation system similar to last.fm

Well I hope the portable version of IE isn't the same as the one on windows mobile. Apple look to have a good browsing experience on the iPhone, so it will be interesting to see what MS can do to match or exceed this.