Microsoft seems happy to let Apple’s iPod steamroll yet another Zune.
Microsoft just launched its new Zune HD, its answer to Apple’s iPod touch. The hardware looks good, and it’s priced fine.
But it’s missing a big part of what’s made Apple’s iPod touch such a success: A platform for third-party apps, especially innovative casual games.
And it’s not going to get one. Microsoft has finally admitted that it does not have plans for an iPhone-like app platform, at least for this device.
TechFlash: … Microsoft is promising to come out with Facebook and Twitter applications for the Zune HD by the end of the year, in addition to new games for the device. The company is not, however, launching a full, open third-party application marketplace for the Zune, contrary to speculation. That leaves the rival iPod touch with an advantage on that front.
Microsoft will create a limited number of apps itself or work closely with selected companies to bring apps to the device, said Zune marketing manager Brian Seitz. The move builds on a limited selection of games previously introduced for Zune.
This is a huge blow for the Zune HD. It didn’t have much of a chance to take serious business away from Apple to begin with, and now it’s going to fight an even steeper uphill battle.
Why no app platform? Because Microsoft is already working on one for Windows Mobile, Seitz tells TechFlash, and the Zune group didn’t want to overlap.
Perhaps this makes sense for Microsoft’s long-term strategy — future Zunes and Windows Mobile devices should share an app platform the way the iPhone and iPod touch do. But for this device, it’s going to cost them.