Feeds

Microsoft wants Wi-Fi 'filling stations' for Zune II

P2P, meet M2M

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

MidemNet So Microsoft's strategy for its Zune player is becoming clear. Just dig up what Register readers were talking about five years ago.

Having attempted to add "BluePod" features ("squirting" music between devices wirelessly) to Zune, Microsoft is now promoting another concept that may sound familiar to long-time readers.

On Saturday, Microsoft's media business chief Chris Stephenson said he wanted to see music dispensed by over the air "filling stations" to Zunes.

The British-born executive was addressing the Midem Music expo in Cannes. Stephenson said the best candidates for these digital dispensers - he called them "filling stations" - were retail chains that already play host to Wi-Fi hotspots, and named Starbucks and McDonalds.

We first wrote about the idea here. Pioneer Qwikker (formerly WideRay) set out providing infra red data dispensers at conferences at the turn of the decade, and now provides terminals for 700 hotspots, most of which beam over Bluetooth and target phones, rather than PDAs. London Underground plays host to over a dozen such "proximity servers" on the Tube.

Two years ago, Nokia blessed the concept, even ripping off Qwikker's name "Service Point". But Nokia's offering suffered the same fate as so many other good products from the Finnish phone giant, and died a death. Nokia has been talking about the creepy sounding "M2M", or "machine to machine" commerce for much of the noughties, without putting a successful product on the market.

Stephenson said Microsoft was looking for more ways for Zune users to "cache and download on the go".

Despite the mixed reception to Zune, Stephenson said Microsoft was reasonably satisfied with the progress of a product that wasn't even conceived a year ago. He pointed to the retail operation, rolling Zune out to 31,000 stores in the US. Sales-wise, there was less to boast about, but he said the media player had grabbed 21 per cent of the iPod Video category.

Asked about the Universal deal, where Microsoft agreed to pay a fee of $1 to the record label, Stephenson said "we felt it important to make that gesture". He declined to suggest to the audience at the world's biggest music expo that anyone who knocked would get a similar deal.

"There's nothing we're committing to in the long term," he said.

Asked about the choice of brown as one of the three Zune colours, Stephenson said that retailers had been more positive than the critics. Microsoft estimated 15 per cent of stores would want brown Zunes, whereas retailers actually ordered 35 per cent of Zunes in brown. The sell-through was higher than Microsoft expected, but lower than the retailers thought: at 21 per cent.

Repeatedly, Stephenson emphasised that Microsoft had Xbox-scale ambitions for Zune, which means a multi-year, multi-billion dollar commitment.

Microsoft has previously been cagey about the date for a European launch, but Stephenson said Q4 2007 was the target, although which markets would get a local Zune had yet to be decided.

That can build a lot of data dispensers. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.