Zune phones are likely on their way, but don’t expect them to be produced by Microsoft, Mary-Jo Foley is reporting. Instead, Microsoft will be attempting reproduce the success of its PC business by providing devices makers with reference designs to use to build their own devices
In November, I wrote that rumors that Microsoft was planning to announce a Microsoft-branded, enterainment-centric phone at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona were plausible. My rationale was that its acquisition of Danger Inc. and positioning of executive talent into its Entertainment and Devices division was an indication that it had something up its sleeve. While I still refuse to rule out that Microsoft could release its own device, that “something” is probably far less ambitious than I originally conceived.
Foley wrote that Microsoft wants to create a ‘best of breed’ Zune device by pitting smartphone makers against one another. She also reports that Microsoft’s upcomoming Zune-branded services, code-named “Pink,” “Skybox,” and “SkyMart,” will be its contribution to the user experience.
That is a better fit with Microsoft’s existing business model. It acquired the underpinning for its Zune services from Danger, and needs to provide strong Zune-branded services to have any hopes of all at competing with Apple’s iPhone juggernaut. I expect to see the fittest of Microsoft partners showcasing their Zune offerings in the near future.