updated 11:35 am EDT, Wed September 19, 2007
Zune 2 Due for Oct 16
Microsoft's first hardware makeover for the Zune is due in less than a month, says an insider purportedly confirming earlier reports. The source says that an image displaying new models is accurate and reflects a major change in the control system for the Microsoft jukebox. All new models will drop the iPod-like circular control pad in favor of a concept called the "squircle," according to the claim: while resembling a single flat surface with rounded edges, the control will hide a four-way directional pad as well as a dome that serves as a center button. The double-shot black, pink, and red colors captured in the rendering are also accurate, the tipster says, suggesting that Microsoft has abandoned its often criticized brown color scheme.
Models appearing in the lineup should closely reflect the prices and feature set of what Apple offers, comparisons show. A single hard drive model will be available with 80GB of storage and should directly replace the 30GB model that recently dropped to $200 to clear out old stock; the company will also release its heavily rumored flash-based players aimed at competing with the iPod nano, offering 4GB and 8GB of memory. Whether online music store access, web browsing, or other Internet features would be added was unclear, however.
Price points were not immediately discussed but are expected to match Apple's $149, $199, and $249 prices for the respective devices while including the Zune's distinctive Wi-Fi. The release is allegedly much more certain and would take place on October 16th, a month ahead of the Zune's official November 17th one-year anniversary and a likely attempt to improve holiday sales versus last year.