Microsoft is mounting a challenge to Apple’s domination of the MP3 market by developing a portable music player.
After months of speculation, the software giant has confirmed it’s working several music and entertainment devices which it will begin launching later this year under the Zune brand.
Marketing manager Chris Stephenson said: ‘Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together.’
Currently Apple is the dominant player in the MP3 market. Its range of iPods account for more than half of digital music player sales across the globe.
Although Microsoft has revealed few details of the Zune project, Chris Stephenson told Billboard magazine that the initial music device will contain a hard drive and a Wi-Fi connection for wireless internet access.
This will allow users to share and sample music from other Zune devices in the same Wi-Fi hot spot and possibly buy and download music directly to the device.
Billboard reports that the Zune launch – expected towards the end of the year – will be supported by a massive advertising and marketing campaign on par with the Xbox 360 launch, which cost a reported $500 million (£270 million).