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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 18, 2007 at 5:23 PM

Zune vs. iPhone comparison not so farfetched

I’ve been getting a hard time from a few commenters over the Zune vs. iPhone headline on a post yesterday.

I responded in the comments a little too soon. I wish I’d first seen the Zune trademark paperwork dug up by blogger Long Zheng and called out by Mary Jo Foley.

Microsoft asked that the Zune trademark apply not only to multimedia players but also to “entertainment and communications devices,” including cellphones.

Zune services described in the application include most everything on the iPhone feature list and more:

telecommunication services; electronic transmission of data files, documents, music and videos over the Internet and wireless networks; electronic mail services; web messaging services; text messaging services; paging services; streaming of audio and video material over the Internet and wireless networks; wireless voice mail services; voice-activated dialing services; providing wireless access to computer networks and the Internet; cellular telephone services; and audio, video and television broadcasting and transmission

It’s not a surprise that Zune phones are coming. I reported on this in September.

But it’s fascinating to see the array of potential services covered by the trademark, which was processed by the patent office yesterday.

Who knows what form Zune phones will take — a slab touchscreen would seem lame at this point — but Microsoft is clearly thinking about hybrid phone/media players similar to the iPhone.

This isn’t rah-rah Microsoft stuff. The company goofed by not getting out there sooner with a multifunction device, letting Apple stay ahead. It’s also going to be sticky if Microsoft goes head to head with the phone makers that are warming up to Windows Mobile.

This should also be good news to Mac fans — not because they want a Zune phone, but because competition from Microsoft could force Apple to make the iPhone more affordable and flexible with its phone platform.

Comments | Topics: Apple, Microsoft, Zune

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