updated 07:20 pm EST, Fri February 17, 2012
Microsoft tries rework of Zune music strategy
Microsoft is looking to redo its music service strategy, leaks uncovered Friday. Those said close to major label discussions told CNET that Microsoft was aiming for a mix of streaming and downloads. The focus would be on the Xbox and an unnamed Windows Phone, possibly made by HTC or Nokia.
Progress was still young, and the exact details weren't yet ready, according to the people relaying information. Both the service and the phone could be ready by the end of the year.
It's not clear how this would differ from the Zune Marketplace and the Zune Pass, both of which cover the pay-per-track and streaming businesses. Emphasizing a particular device could be a shift towards mobile. One possibility is a need to renegotiate to get real currency pricing and drop the arbitrary points system.
Microsoft has had trouble getting traction for its attempts at music services. After the short life of MSN Music, it launched what would be the Zune Marketplace in sync with the Zune MP3 player. Partly because the devices themselves never got more than a small amount of share and have since been cleared out, the store has often been marginalized. Efforts to increase its standing through Windows Phone and Xbox 360 also haven't borne fruit given both Windows Phone's small stake and the lack of incentive to listen to music on a TV console.
Microsoft faces pressure both from iTunes, which dominates online music as a whole, as well as Internet subscription services like Rdio, Slacker, and Spotify. These have often had similar features and haven't been limited to Microsoft platforms.