Zune to Launch November 14 for $249.99

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Microsoft has announced launch details for its forthcoming line of Zune personal media devices: the device will go on sale to consumer November 14, 2006, at an estimated retail price of $249.99.

“On Nov. 14 we’re delivering not only a device, but a shared, social experience that will be shaped by the collective imagination of consumers,” said Chris Stephenson, Zune’s general manager of global marketing. “We’re infusing the spirit of discovery and sharing into everything we do—from the experience we crafted around the device and service to pre-loading music and videos on every device to expose people to something new.”

Microsoft also revealed pricing information for its music subscription service for the Zune—$14.99 per month—and pricing for individual song purchases through the online Zune Market place: 79 Microsoft Points. Microsoft Points will operate in a way similar to pre-paid phone cards—users give Microsoft real money, and Microsoft gives them points which can be redeemed in either the Zune Marketplace or the Xbox Live Marketplace. Microsoft says Microsoft Points can also be redeemed at a “growing number of online stores.”

Contrary to some expectations, Microsoft’s initial pricing on the Zune and music offerings does not throw down the glove in a pricing war with Apple’s iPod and iTunes Music Store—the Zune’s initial pricing is essentially parallel to that of a 30 GB iPod, despite the Zune offering Wi-Fi sharing capabilities—and the per-track music purchase price is expected to be similar to Apple’s famous $.99-per-song pricing, although the Microsoft Points system does provide Microsoft the opportunity to offer sales incentives through discounts and special offers without altering its advertised prices.

The initial Zune devices will carry a 30 GB hard disk pre-loaded with music, images, and video content from Microsoft’s partners. The “Zune preload” set for the products launch includes the following items:

Audio Tracks

  • Band of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Bitter:Sweet, “The Mating Game” (Quango Music Group)
  • CSS, “Alala (Microsoft edit)” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Darkel, “At The End of The Sky (edit)” (Astralwerks)
  • Every Move a Picture, “Signs of Life” (V2)
  • Small Sins, “Stay” (Astralwerks)
  • The Adored, “Tell Me Tell Me” (V2)
  • The Rakes, “Open Book” (V2)
  • The Thermals, “A Pillar of Salt” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Music Video

    • 30 Seconds to Mars, “The Kill” (Virgin Records)
    • BT, “1.618” (DTS Entertainment)
    • Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” (Sub Pop Records)
    • Coldcut featuring Roots Manuva, “True Skool” (Ninja Tune)
    • CSS, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (Sub Pop Records)
    • Fruit Bats, “Live: The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Sub Pop Records)
    • Grandaddy, “Elevate Myself” (V2)
    • Hot Chip, “Over and Over” (Astralwerks Records)
    • Kraak & Smaak featuring Dez., “Keep Me Home” (Quango Music Group)
    • Kinski, “Live: The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia” (Sub Pop Records)
    • Paul Oakenfold, “Faster Kill Pussycat (Featuring Brittany Murphy)” (Maverick Records)
    • Serena-Maneesh, “Drain Cosmetics” (Playlouderecordings) Film Shorts
    • 5 Boro: “A New York Skateboarding Minute” (Skateboarding)
    • Radical Films: “Kranked—Progression” (Mountain Biking)
    • TGRTV The North Face (Skiing/Snowboarding)

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