updated 08:30 am EST, Wed November 26, 2008
Zune Codename Pink Rumor
Microsoft is planning a major update to the Zune that may presage the rumored Microsoft-built phone, according to an alleged tip given to CNBC's Jim Goldman. A claimed "good" source tells the reporter that a new Zune device, codenamed "Pink," is due to surface as early as the CES show in January and would represent a cross between existing Zune design and elements picked up from Microsoft's acquisition of Danger, which is believed to have been absorbed into the Entertainment division at the company that handles both the Xbox and Zune lines.
What features the device will include are unknown from this latest report but are rumored to involve NVIDIA's newer Tegra processor for high-resolution video playback. Microsoft itself has also ultimately pointed to an eventual move to touchscreens without committing to any particular timeframe and notably had a relatively low-key Zune update this fall, releasing capacity increases and new firmware rather than a significant redesign.
Goldman's reported contact also supports the notion of Microsoft producing its own phone and echoes reports that point to a possible introduction at the Mobile World Congress (3GSM) show in February, though when it would be released and what it would include is unknown. Microsoft has historically been slow to turn from announcements of Windows Mobile versions to shipping products.
However, the source does explicitly denote the intention to use at least the phone as "true competition" to the iPhone and so is likely to focus on a touchscreen. Microsoft has so far found relatively little success in relying on its partners to compete with iPhones and at best can pin its hopes on HTC's Touch Diamond, which is slated to sell just 3 million units by the end of the year, or less than half of Apple's summer sales alone. Full touchscreen Windows Mobile phones are nonetheless becoming more common with the appearance of the LG Incite for AT&T and the American version of the Samsung Omnia for Verizon.