Zune HD = iPod touch? Uh, no....

Blame it on the rain, the resulting muck and mire, or the redwood curtain that separates Cupertino from Redmond, but it appears that news travels very slowly between Apple and Microsoft. How else can you explain this statement from Chris Stephenson—general manager of global marketing for Microsoft Zune regarding the just-announced Zune HD (as quoted by CNET’s Ina Fried)?

“This device is created to go head to head with the iPod Touch.”

Okay, maybe it is. With that in mind let’s look at what the two have in common:

  • Touchscreen display.
  • Ability to play music and movies.
  • Web browser and media acquisition via Wi-Fi.
  • Photo viewing.

And now, what the Zune HD offers that the iPod touch doesn’t:

  • HD Radio.
  • HD Video Out (via optional Dock).
  • The Social.

And, what the iPod touch has that—as far as we know—is foreign to the Zune HD:

  • The App Store.

In a strict bullet-point comparison, the Zune HD is clearly the champion—3 points to 1. Might as well pack it up, Apple. It’s a Zune world after all.

Of course if you were to subdivide that single App Store bullet point into its component 35,000 + applications you might understand why I suggest that Microsoft is a little slow on the uptake.

Because while the touch may have the iPod name attached to it, it’s far more than just a media player. Touchscreen, media playback, slideshows, and web browsing do not an iPod touch make. And Apple’s made this pretty clear.

Recall the last several iPod touch commercials you’ve seen. Do they emphasize playing movies, as you can with every other iPod save the shuffle? Does Safari play a major role in these 30-second dramas? Of course not, Apple routinely lumps in the iPod touch with the iPhone, not other iPods. And it does so because it’s about the apps—games, utilities, social networking, news, media streaming.

Yet Microsoft, from all appearances, is jamming its fingers in its ears and sing-songing “iPod! iPod! iPod! We have radio, iPod doesn’t!” as if radio, of all things, is the killer app (which, if you really want it on your iPod touch, can be had via one of a handful of apps).

The Zune HD isn’t slated to arrive until this Fall and the details we currently have are sparse, so perhaps there’s a Zapp store in the works. (Just as there's likely an update to the iPod touch in the works.)

Until then, welcome to the denial.

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