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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

March 20, 2006 at 1:08 PM

Microsoft and the iPod killer

There’s been lots of talk on a new device Microsoft is cooking up that might compete with Apple’s iPod. The San Jose Mercury News details one effort within Microsoft’s entertainment division to produce a handheld player for games, music and video.

The company is using some Xbox veterans, including executive J Allard, for the project, according to the report. There aren’t many other new details, and the article doesn’t address what might be the most difficult hurdle for Microsoft in developing such a device: Partner up or go it alone?

Some in the industry suggest that a true iPod killer will not come from the business model where one company makes the software and mashes it with other companies’ hardware. So does Microsoft get into the hardware business so that it can control every aspect of production? Or does it try once again to find a hardware partner that can make some headway into Apple’s territory?

The competition is squarely in the go-it-alone camp. Apple obviously owns the device, the software (iTunes) and the retail aspect (the iTunes music store). It smartly partners with other companies that make iPod accessories, creating a universe of iPod gear. Sony owns the device (the PSP, among others) and is expected to better align the software and retail aspects with the upcoming PlayStation 3. See my story today for more on what the PS3 means for Sony.

Microsoft employee Omar Shahine gives his take on the situation on his blog: “Even though we have a great ecosystem for music stores etc, the reality is that our OEM partners are never ever going to create a product like the iPod.”

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