Zune Officially Announced

Microsoft has a big interview in Billboard Magazine next week spilling the rice and beans on the Zune. The three bullet points we were able to get, since we're too poor to buy T-Shirts without holes in them let alone subscribe to Billboard magazine:

  • Microsoft officials for the first time have confirmed that the Redmond, Wash.-based company is readying a portable music player and integrated service, shedding new light on a topic that has fueled rampant speculation in news reports and blog postings for weeks.
  • In an exclusive first interview with Billboard, Chris Stephenson, Microsoft's new GM of marketing for MSN Entertainment Business, says the company will later this year launch Zune, an umbrella brand for what he says is "a family of hardware and software products" targeting various digital entertainment services.
  • The first implementation of this will be the portable music player and digital music service, in what is the company's strongest effort yet to rein in Apple Computer's iTunes/iPod juggernaut, currently responsible for about 70% of the digital music market and 75% of the portable digital music player market.

There's confirmation that it's going to have portable gaming and portable video capabilities, with WiFi and an add-on game pad (aftermarket).

More info in about 5 minutes.

Image courtesy Zune Nation