Microsoft's Zune digital media player will go on sale in the US on 14 November for $250 (about £134), the company said yesterday, in line with the price of video iPods already available from Apple.
Microsoft announced its Zune player and the accompanying music store, called Zune Marketplace, earlier this month, but it did not provide pricing at the time. Some industry insiders believe Microsoft had to rethink the pricing after it learned that Apple was about to lower the price of its video iPods, which it recently did. Like the video iPods, the first Zune players will come with 30GB of storage.
Microsoft also unveiled pricing for Zune Marketplace. Unlike Apple's iTunes, which lets users buy individual songs or entire albums but does not offer a subscription service, Microsoft will offer a monthly subscription called Zune Pass. For $15 (£8) a month, users will have access to millions of songs, Microsoft said. However, they won't actually own those songs and will only be able to access them while they have a subscription.
Users will also be able to purchase songs individually using Microsoft's points system, which works a bit like a prepaid phone card. One track will cost 79 points – or about $1, which is what iTunes charges per song. At retail, consumers can purchase 1,200 points for $15, 2,000 points for $25, 4,000 points for $50, or pay $45 for a three-month Zune Pass.
Zune accessories will range in price from $20 to $100. They include the Zune Car Pack, which offers a built-in FM tuner with AutoSeek and the Zune Car Charger, and The Zune Home A/V Pack, which includes five products that integrate Zune with a television and music speakers.
More information is available here.
Microsoft is differentiating its Zune player from the iPod in several ways. In addition to allowing users to play music, videos and photos on a screen, the Zune player will include wireless technology and a built-in FM radio tuner. So far, iPods lack both of those.
Microsoft didn't provide any availability information for outside of the US.