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Microsoft harpoons Nokia to fine tune Zune

Playing catch-up with iTunes

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Word on the street is that Microsoft and Nokia are cooking something up for Microsoft's Zune. But rumours that the result will be a Zune phone, appear wide of the mark.

Quoting a “well placed source within Microsoft”, the specialist pub Zunescene reveals that joint development is focused on content delivery, rather than a hardware device. "“if there is a Zune phone, I don’t know about it," the source said.

With Nokia's backing, Microsoft will be able to push Zune software and services beyond Windows Mobile handsets and onto the Nokia dominated Symbian operating system. That in turn may make Zune Marketplace a more credible competitor against Apple's all-conquering iTunes. This iTunes- rival theory is supported by the Zunescene' Deep Throat, who says the Nokia/Microsoft partnership isn’t exclusive. This suggests that Microsoft may try the same approach with, say, Sony Ericsson, Motorola or HTC.

The result could be a wide range of handsets from many manufacturers, each united by “Designed for Zune Marketplace” or “Zune Marketplace compatible” branding.

<pI>n May, Microsoft announced that Zune Marketplace was stocked with 3.5m tracks. iTunes holds about 8m songs. In June, Apple said that over 5bn songs have been downloaded worldwide through the online store in the past five years.

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