Now this one hit me out of left field. As I saw how completely Windows Phone 7 has been based on the Zune GUI and architecture, I assumed that the ZuneHD had really been just an experiment, a field test for a possible phone OS, and would be a one shot product. Understand, I adore my ZuneHD. It is my primary music player and will likely remain so until it is pried from my cold dead fingers, and even then I would eat your brains to get it back. The only thing I would love more than my ZuneHD is a 128GB ZuneHD…or perhaps a Zune HD 2?
When the ZuneHD was released, in all the hubbub the Zune team coyly hinted that there would be one more player released in the future before the Zune system became a part of all Windows systems, but as sales were only fair despite the critical praise (ok, likely a bit less than fair….alright, probably a good deal less than fair) people assumed this was just marketing talk and the Zune had taken it’s best shot….and failed. Now Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet is hearing whispers that, against all sanity and proper product management, there may indeed be an updated ZuneHD in the pipeline after all. Be still my beating heart.
Here is what she has to say…
After Microsoft had its Windows Phone 7 reset, talk of a new ZuneHD2 tapered off. But lately, I’ve been hearing that, in spite of the Zune HD’s not-so-stellar sales, plus Microsoft’s failure to make the hardware available outside the U.S., the Softies may still have one more digital-media player coming. My rumormonger says it could be a calendar 2011 deliverable and possibly could sport an ARM processor of some kind. The Zune HD2 would incorporate a number of the UI changes from the Windows Phone 7 folks, the tipster claims — which makes sense given the Windows Phone 7 UI borrowed so heavily from the Zune HD UI.
No word from my tipster on dimensions, price, will/won’t there be cameras or any other details users might want to know about a potential new Zune HD. Also no word on how Microsoft might position such a device if it ever comes to market: Would it be more like a “Windows Phone 7 Lite”/iPod Touch? A gaming-focused handheld like the rumored Sony PSP Go successor? Or more like a mini slate/tablet (like one of those new Archos 28s running Froyo)?
Could a ZuneHD 2 be the WiFi only version of a Windows Phone, like an iPod Touch to the iPhone? Would there be a point, would it sell? Could this be one of the projects Microsoft is working on with ARM? Nvidia has made pretty clear that the Tegra 2 will not be going into any Microsoft devices, so what would a ZuneHD 2 use to improve on the first version’s graphics power…maybe something entirely new.
This is all very much vaporwear and pipe dreams…but I admit the idea is interesting. If Microsoft sat down today to design yet another PMP to stand beside Windows Phone 7…what would they make?
..OK, likely a mess, I get that…but if they DIDN’T screw it up, what would it be like?