Zune, a 30GB MP3 player has been launched in the US and is expected to be just the first in a new range of ‘connected entertainment’ products from the software giant.

Microsoft launches iPod rival

The Zune device features wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen. It comes in three colours: black, brown and white, but the real USP is its WiFi connectivity which, through the Zune Marketplace music service and fledgling online community lets people ‘share’ music between devices.

According to Microsoft’s announcement, Zune will create new ways for consumers to connect and share entertainment experiences, as it centres around connection.

“The digital music entertainment revolution is just beginning,” said J Allard, vice president, design and development, at Microsoft, who is leading the charge for building the family of Zune products. “With Zune, we are not simply delivering a portable device, we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections.”

So this is clearly not just an attempt to take on iPod, but iTunes too. The WiFi approach is a novel one but has the potential for making what is already a highly complicated DRM environment even more so. While it has already been launched in the US, it’s not expected over here for another 12 months.

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