Microsoft is planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the Zune portable media player over the next several years, said Robbie Bach, president of the company’s entertainment and devices division, in a presentation to analysts.
“If you want to think about the investment timeline, you can’t think that this is a six-month initiative,” he said. Zune could be an investment of three to five years, he added.
By year’s end, Microsoft is planning to debut a handheld music and entertainment device in the United States under the name Zune. Next year, Bach said, the company plans to offer more Zune devices and expand into other countries.
Bach emphasized the community and sharing aspect of the Zune player and the software platform that will accompany it. Users will be able to share their favorite music with friends, he said. They’ll also be able to do that with videos, including the home-grown, user-submitted videos that are popular on sites like YouTube.
Zune will have ties to a vast ecosystem of Microsoft products, including the Xbox Live, MSN and Windows Live services, the Xbox 360 console and cable and television software systems, Bach said.
“The experience of having Zune in that connected environment is a dramatically better experience than what you have in a portable music player,” he said.