The obvious cricitism to Microsoft’s (MSFT) new Zune HD, which otherwise looks and works sort of like Apple’s (AAPL) iPod touch, is “where’s the apps?” It seems at first glance that Microsoft was making the same mistake it made with the first Zune: Competing with a two-year-old vision of an iPod.
But there’s more than meets the eye here. Microsoft does have a plan for apps on the Zune HD, and at some point, that consisted of offering some iPhone developers “a bucket of money” to port their apps over. That’s according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who spoke to one developer who turned down Microsoft’s offer.
If true, this is the right move for Microsoft to make.
After all, the App Store is one of the iPod touch’s best features, and trying to compete with the gadget without any apps — especially games — is going to be really hard. So we’re very excited to see if Microsoft has been able to hobble together an app platform at all, and also to see who’s gambling in it.
We’d seen rumours that the Zune HD may use the same app platform as the Xbox, Microsoft’s “XNA,” but aren’t fluent enough in those languages to know if that’s a good or bad thing. (Probably better than if Microsoft were using an old version of Windows Mobile for the gadget.)
As we’ve said before, unless the app platform for the Zune HD is the beginning of a long line of app-friendly Microsoft gadgets, including their next Windows Mobile or Sidekick devices, they might as well have used Google Android for the Zune HD. At least some apps are available for that platform, even if many are not as good as iPhone apps. (Especially games.)
Meanwhile, while Microsoft waits around to announce its app plans for the Zune HD, Apple is likely to announce a new iPod touch in early September. With the right features — perhaps a video camera? — Apple could make the Zune HD look old already.
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