updated 03:20 pm EDT, Tue September 4, 2007
MS exec: Zune a 'B-'
A Microsoft executive has gone on record about several topics, mainly the health of the Zune media player. Mindy Mount, the corporate vice president and CFO of Microsoft's entertainment and device division, says that she grades the Zune a "B-" in its current state. She argues that the player is doing well, saleswise, for "a product out in less than a year and a half," but that the company is still developing the brand and trying to expand its identity. Apple's iPod is described as a motivational competitor, forcing the Zune team to evolve. No specific successors have been mentioned.
Mount also comments that while the Zune has a good screen, a video service is not yet around to take advantage of it, and that the public has felt the player is a "little heavier" than expected.
No comment is offered on rumors of an impending Research in Motion purchase, except that the mobile strategies of the companies are very differnt: RIM concentrates on a niche of enterprise users, while Microsoft is interested in creating a mass market for Windows Mobile.
Addressing the cellular world in detail, Mount says that Windows Mobile may need a more advanced graphical interface, similar to that of the iPhone. A Microsoft-designed cellphone is said to only be a possibility, but at a minimum, Mount explains, Microsoft is already planning to put more emphasis on photos and music in Windows Mobile.
Lastly, the Xbox division is expected to finally turn a profit, having lost money since the introduction of the Xbox 360. Buyers worried or frustrated by continuing technical problems may benefit from a new "accelerated life testing" technique the company has developed, which could improve quality control by compressing the effects of two to three years of usage into a short space of time. [via ZDNet]