Zune HD: No iPod killer

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the Today @ PC World blog at PCWorld.com.

Does Microsoft really think it can outdo Apple and its fleet of iPods with the Zune HD? Get serious. Even with a flaky refresh of the iPod touch last week, the Zune HD still doesn’t stack up that well against Apple’s popular army of music-playing devices.

Microsoft's Zune HD comes in today at a lower price point than Apple’s iPod touch, but that’s not enough to kill Apple’s domination once and for all. A Zune HD 16GB will cost $219, while the 32GB version comes in at $289. That’s $10 cheaper than a refreshed 32GB iPod touch, which now costs $299.

But will $10 be enough to convince you to chose a Zune HD over an iPod touch? Hardware-wise, there are not many differences between the two players, but I have to give to the Zune HD for the built-in HD radio receiver and the HD video compatibility, though only via the dock which is sold separately.

Although it might have the hardware edge over the iPod touch, with the features mentioned and the crisp OLED display, Microsoft just committed a grave error with the Zune HD: there won’t be a full-fledged app store for the Zune HD on launch—or any time soon, either. Games on the Zune HD will crop up soon, but don’t count on that until the end of the year.

There are more than 75,000 applications in Apple’s App Store at the moment; meanwhile, there are no apps for the Zune HD except the built-in browser. Microsoft is not even shipping the Zune HD with Facebook and Twitter clients. The Redmond giant says it will build apps for the mentioned social networks by the end of the year.

A gap in Microsoft’s Zune HD line is cropping up as well, when compared to Apple’s line-up. While Apple got rid of the 16GB iPod touch last week, the company also lowered the entry price point: savvy shoppers get to choose between the cheapest iPod touch (8GB), now $199, or the lowest-priced Zune HD (16GB), now $219.

Microsoft got rid of the previous Zune models, so there won’t be any smaller capacity Zune players to compete with the upgraded iPod nano, which now features a video camera and an FM tuner. Coming in at $149 for the 8GB model and $179 for 16GB, the iPod nano could tap into Zune HD sales as well, for those looking for an extra kick for a lesser price from their MP3 player.

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