Software giant Microsoft has launched its long-awaited Zune MP3 player in a challenge to Apple’s domination of the digital music market.
The 30-gigabyte device plays songs and videos that owners can download to their PCs via the Zune Marketplace site.
The Zune went on sale in the US today priced at 249.99 US dollars (£130) but no date has yet been set for its UK launch.
The Zune has a 3in colour screen and is available in black, brown and white colours. Users can either buy tracks individually from the site or get a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as they want for a flat fee.
It also has wireless technology which allows owners to send each other songs and pictures.
The MP3 players have also been pre-loaded with some initial content from a number of record labels prior to sale. It also allows owners to ‘share’ content from one machine with others nearby which is meant to encourage viral marketing – although the content itself can be strictly limited to prevent piracy.
Apple’s range of iPods enjoy a 70% share of the music download market and Microsoft faces an uphill struggle to dent that domination.
Zune’s Global Marketing General Manager Chris Stephenson said: ‘On 14 November we’re delivering not only a device, but a shared, social experience that will be shaped by the collective imagination of consumers.’
Which? MP3 expert Sandie Mattioli said: ‘Rivals to Apple’s hugely successful music player are nothing new, but few have the clout to match a Microsoft backed player so we are keen to put it through our extensive MP3 player testing as soon as possible.’