Zune Phone to debut at Mobile World Congress?

The rumours that circulated throughout last year that Microsoft were planning to launch a Zune branded phone are back, sparked by comments from a Jefferies & Company analyst. Despite strong denials of any plans to create phone hardware by Microsoft's John Starkweather, the launch by Google of their Nexus One device may well pave the way for Microsoft to finally bring their own offering into the field.

Katherine Egbert, from Jefferies & Company, now claims that the Redmond giant will launch a "Zune-like phone" within the next two months, judging by her company's "recent industry checks." She continued, "We expect the new phone to debut soon, at either the Feb 15-18 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona Spain, or possibly at CTIA in Las Vegas one month later."

Microsoft is also expected to unveil Windows Mobile 7 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next month, and there is speculation that any Zune phone device will be running the new version - or that the new version will be running Zune software following comments made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the end of last year. Egbert believes that the phone will feature a five megapixel camera, some kind of music store (presumably similar - or the same as - the Zune Marketplace), and support for HD video (also similar to the Zune HD device).

Other than that, there is not much detail in her comments. "We don’t have any information about the cost of the Pink phone, nor do we know what service providers might be partnered with Microsoft," she said, although mentioned that the phone is probably the result of an partnership between Microsoft and an OEM, like the one between Google and HTC that is responsible for the Nexus One. Egbert added that "revenue from the phone is also very unlikely to be meaningful for many years."

All things digital also report that the interface of the device will be "similar" to the current Zune HD. There is also speculation that it may include apps like Facebook, Twitter and Xbox LIVE. Early details about Windows Mobile 7 report that the "Media Edition" of the mobile OS will include HD media playback, Xbox Live integration, Facebook, Twitter and Silverlight as well.

This move would be in direct contrast to comments made recently by Robbie Bach, Microsoft's head of mobile development. Bach expressed his criticism that Google was allowing other companies to use its mobile OS software whilst also selling a direct competitor to those other devices, creating possible fears from the vendors that Google will prioritise its own phone. "Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult," Bach said.

Egbert concludes, rather strangely, that "the new phone might explain why Microsoft has allowed WinMo to dwindle to <10% mobile OS market share. Pink [find out more about Project Pink from Mary-Jo Foley] would be the 'third screen' (after Windows and Xbox) and final component in Microsoft's '3 screens and a cloud' strategy." Whatever happens at Mobile World Congress next month, Neowin will be there live to keep you updated with all the latest developments.

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It'll probably be released first in NA and they'll take forever (if ever) to release it to the rest of the world (we are still waiting for the Zune [in Australia]). However, if it's real and they plan to release it globally (and it's released before August this year, as my contract ends then) I might consider it as my next phone (as I'm interested in getting a touchscreen phone that isn't an iPhone).

There is a rumour that Danger are playing about with a new phone according to their Twitter updates.

Make the phone international for the love of god and the Zune as well! I still want one.

it's the industrial design of the zune hd that i like so much. if the design of the new phone hardware differs significantly/thematically from that of the zune hd (as it probably would if it is being made by an oem), i would say it is much less likely that i would like it. the zune hd industrual design looks better than that of any phone i've seen.

neo158 said,
Well if the rumours are true, and the device is as thin as the HD, it should be an awesome device.

Yeah, if it looks like the Zune I would definitely get one. That would be a really nice phone. I would be thrilled with something like that.

MS's plan has always been to add the Zune software (player and marketplace) to WM. WM7 will do that, it won't be a pure "Zune Phone" just have the Zune software, probably tweaked a bit to match the rest of the WM7 UI, in there. Nothing new to this idea really.

MS won't make their own phone, that's not what they're after and it only adds costs they don't want to add. It's best to make the platform, core apps and services, like they always do. The rest is left up to OEM partners, this tme though MS will be more specific when it comes to hardware and QA with the stuff OEMs add on. Last thing we need is some device maker yet again bogging down a phone with some crappy code they wrote.

GP007 said,
MS's plan has always been to add the Zune software (player and marketplace) to WM. WM7 will do that, it won't be a pure "Zune Phone" just have the Zune software, probably tweaked a bit to match the rest of the WM7 UI, in there. Nothing new to this idea really.

MS won't make their own phone, that's not what they're after and it only adds costs they don't want to add. It's best to make the platform, core apps and services, like they always do. The rest is left up to OEM partners, this tme though MS will be more specific when it comes to hardware and QA with the stuff OEMs add on. Last thing we need is some device maker yet again bogging down a phone with some crappy code they wrote.

+1 Good post.

I use windows mobile 6.5 build 28205 on a htc wizard and I love it. It can act justlike a computer if i need it to. But I know that i will have to get a new phone when winmo 7 comes out.

With all this digital convergance and phones doing more and more there is a question i have NEVER seen be asked.

Will winmo 7 treat the device as a phone that does multimedia, or will it act as a multimedia device that happens to have a phone?

I don't know if there is a differnece but i sometimes worry that it will be everything everyone wants but not proportianatly, such as its hard to get to the phone features but easy to get to the videos, or its easier to make a phone call than it is to play a video.

Einlander said,
I use windows mobile 6.5 build 28205 on a htc wizard and I love it. It can act justlike a computer if i need it to. But I know that i will have to get a new phone when winmo 7 comes out.

With all this digital convergance and phones doing more and more there is a question i have NEVER seen be asked.

Will winmo 7 treat the device as a phone that does multimedia, or will it act as a multimedia device that happens to have a phone?

I don't know if there is a differnece but i sometimes worry that it will be everything everyone wants but not proportianatly, such as its hard to get to the phone features but easy to get to the videos, or its easier to make a phone call than it is to play a video.

If it's custimizable enough, it'll be anything you want I suppose. More of a phone and contact/work related or more for media etc. The best thing would be if you could mix and match elements of the UI the way you want ofc.

GP007 said,

If it's custimizable enough, it'll be anything you want I suppose. More of a phone and contact/work related or more for media etc. The best thing would be if you could mix and match elements of the UI the way you want ofc.

I agree. Customization would be really nice.

Owenw said,
I <3 Windows Mobile 7.

But dislike the fact I probably can't put it on my HTC Diamond. lol.

You love WinMo 7 already, without seeing it? Really? I mean, I'm waiting anxiously for it, but without having seen it yet I can't profess to "loving" it. That's treading dangerously close Apple Tablet-ism there ....

Lamerz4391 said,

You love WinMo 7 already, without seeing it? Really? I mean, I'm waiting anxiously for it, but without having seen it yet I can't profess to "loving" it. That's treading dangerously close Apple Tablet-ism there ....

He probably means more along the lines of "love the sound of it", from all the info, true or not we don't know yet, that's been popping up more and more.

Owenw said,

Huh? The picture is of a Zune? :P

Yeah... the ipod touch looks awfully like an iPhone. Who knows what the zune phone will look like.

Edited by Quigley Guy, Jan 20 2010, 10:34pm :

I do love the look of the Zune HD though... I hope the phone looks like that to be honest. I would buy one. The Turtle or whatever it called that was shown off before was ugly...