Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Not Quite HD" Zune HD Means Great News For iPod Touch Fans

Please indulge me while I get into what the Zune HD is. Zune HD is Microsoft's stunning answer to the iPod Touch with a well built body, interface, and OLED screen. There is not much more go to on at this time as a lot of information are still lacking and demos are limited to a special few (Gizmodo has a video).

A few points about the "first" impressions from Gizmodo as mentioned in Appleinsider's post.  I'm looking at my iPod Touch here and I don't see how the Zune HD has a better looking form than than the Touch.  Far from it.  First of the all, the Touch body is has nice curves, no screws, and quite responsive.  The Zune HD as it is now has screws, thicker body, and it's got that original aweful brown hue.

First of all, let's get this out of the way. HD for the Zune HD doesn't mean the video is HD quality.  It's got HD radio.  Done.  Let's move on.

Now, this is the first looks anyone has is very subjective and Microsoft showed them only what they wanted the blogger to report.  Admittedly, Microsoft said this is not an iPod Touch competitor.  Why?  Because it doesn't have an real mobile OS.  Think of it more as the iPod Classic with a screen like the Touch and a browser.

I have a theory on Zune HD.  We know it's dying and Redmond is looking to come up with an answer to the iPhone and the mobile market in general.  Windows Mobile 7 is still 6-9 months off.  Advances with Zune was made in the last year for integration with WM hardware.  A prototype was made and a marketing guy said, "hey, let's sell this prototype until WM with Zune support is out in 2010" and Zune HD was born.  Essentially, this explains why Zune HD is a media player with no real OS.  Plays video, music (HD radio), IE from WM 6.5.  Won't do more.

Now, on to how this is great for iPod fans.  I don't expect Apple to totally revamp the iPod Touch in light of the Zune HD news. Apple has charted a course for its mobile hardware years ahead. If anything, plans might be accelerated. Features that we probably won't see until the 4th or 5th generation iPod Touch might make it into the upcoming iPod Touch in the fall.  At the end of the day, I doubt Cupertino is worried one bit.

As usual, I love competition because we mobile warriors win out in the end.  New features. Bigger storage. Lower prices. So fear not, Apple fans.  Apple needs to be challenged but Jobs and company created this segment of the mobile market.  I don't know what the 3rd gen iPod Touch will have.  Apple's got lots of tricks (innovations) it can pull out when the time is right.

Tons of iPod Touch rumors flying around and I have to say that they all sound plausible.  And even if only half of them turn out to be true, we're in for another very iPod shopping season this winter.

Source: Appleinsider, Engadget Impression, Gizmodo

Note:  Sony has it on their Walkman video play and Microsoft will have it on their Zune "HD" and Apple will put OLED on the iPod Touch.  It's all about product cycles and timing.  

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