Zune Phone: Hardware or Software?

  • January 4, 2009 11:27 am


No this isn’t news about an impending release date for a zune phone.  Heck, its not even a “rumor”, but merely a brain storming idea.  Love it or hate it, Windows Mobile has been a very versatile mobile OS that as been installed on many devices from different manufactures.  Just because it has been widely used, does not mean it is necessarily the best, just that they were in the right place at the right time and of course the company can take some credit as well.  You look at Windows Mobile and see a very business oriented product.  You don’t look at it and think oh cool, my twenty something year old son would love this.  Usually, Windows Mobile attracts a little bit of a more mature crowd.  Are they purposely neglecting the younger market?  No.  Its just their priorities, (at least as it seems currently) have been on other things such as Windows 7 and Xbox 360.  

Now look at the Zune.  It certainly drew some attention when it was first released, (and again a few days ago with a leap year hiccup) because it was a completely new category for Microsoft to enter.  Almost instantly Apple and Microsoft camps began passionately speaking for or against the little device from Redmond.  While it wouldn’t win any awards in the design department the UI was surprisingly designed well.  It used a “twist” navigation meaning  you could scroll left to right between menu choices, and then under each choice up or down for more options making navigation fast and intuitive.

Windows Mobile and the Zune OS show two completely different sides of Microsoft, corporate and consumer.  Since the introduction of the iPhone, rumors of a “Zune Phone” almost immediately started flaring up.  Many Zune and Microsoft fans cried out for an answer to Apple’s iPhone.  So far one and a half years later their cries have gone unanswered.  But will they every be answered?  Cnet thinks yes, as do I.  It is only a matter of time before Microsoft comes out with their own “Zune Phone”.  The mobile market is hot right now and becoming increasingly saturated with mundane phones.  Even though the iPhone is hot now, its beginning to become very common place due to such high popularity.  Everyone is going to have one.  That is where a Zune Phone could really make waves.  A phone that is completely different and unique could bring many switchers back to the big Red as well as attract many new customers.

What OS would this Zune Phone run?  Hopefully if they plan on using Windows Mobile, they fast track Windows Mobile 7 as Windows Mobile 6 is quite old and outdated compared to many mobile OS’s on the market now, namely Android and Mobile OS X.  If they go with the Zune OS they would have to add many features as phones have quite a bit more buttons than the Zune does.  The OS would have to be pretty much completely reworked to add the needed functionality of a smartphone OS.  The actual Zune OS is really just a small piece of what would go into the whole phone’s OS.  You can see the mountain of work they have either way they choose.

The next question would be full touchscreen without a physical keyboard, a combo sporting some sort of sliding keyboard with a touchscreen, or to keep it simple with no touchscreen and some sort of keyboard.  I can pretty much bet that they would at least have some sort of touchscreen.  Depending on if the so called Zune Phone will be an actual phone or more importantly an OS or OS feature that will be incorporated on many different handsets of all different types.  I see the Zune Phone becoming more of a software “phone” more likely because it follows Microsoft’s current marketing strategies with letting them reach the greatest audience possible by incorporating many different handset designs.  Whenever, if ever they announce a Zune Phone, I hope they put much thought and care into.  A failed launch of something that could potentially by that massive could be a big dent to an already faltering Microsoft.

Source:  Cnet

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