Microsoft: Toshiba to Build iPod Rival
Microsoft Corp.'s answer to Apple's iPod will be built by Toshiba Corp., the
software company confirmed Friday.
The gadget, which will be one of the products marketed under Microsoft's "Zune"
brand, will let people share songs, photos, music playlists and other content
with others via a wireless connection. One feature will allow a person to act
as a DJ, sending music to up to four other devices.
Toshiba's role was disclosed Thursday when the electronics company filed papers
with the Federal Communications Commission. Kyrsa Dixon, a spokeswoman for one
of Microsoft's public relations firms, confirmed Friday that Toshiba will make
Photos included in the filing show a white rectangular device with a large
screen and several buttons. The minimalist feel closely resembles Apple Computer
Inc.'s wildly popular iPod.
Dixon said the report is legitimate. She declined to comment further, saying
only that the company is expected to release more details in the coming weeks.
A Toshiba spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail
Microsoft said in July that it planned to launch a series of music and entertainment
products that are expected to compete with Apple's iPod player and iTunes music
service, with the first expected to be available this year.
The company has released few details about the undertaking, although it recently
warned financial analysts that it will require millions of dollars in investment
and will not pay off immediately.
Microsoft also has said that Zune is key to the software maker's overall entertainment
ambitions and will capitalize on -- and tie into -- the company's other entertainment
offerings. These include the Xbox video game console, Microsoft's television
technology and the media-focused version of the Windows operating system that
lets people do things like record and watch live television.
Still, Microsoft is expected to face tough competition from the iPod and iTunes
juggernaut. Other hardware manufacturers, including Creative Technology Ltd.
and Samsung Electronics Co., offer portable media players using Microsoft's
software, although they've had little success against Apple.