Microsoft might be taking a page from the mobile phone playbook, offering cheap or free Zunes for customers willing to sign up for a long-term service contract. Zune marketing director Jason Reindorp stated that they were looking at using the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass subscription like a phone contract.

This is a really interesting idea, and it could be the thing that finally makes the Zune stand out when compared with the iPod (besides the pretty useless "social" WiFi features). The idea of being able to download as much music as you want and getting a free or cheap player out of the deal makes a subscription service seem pretty sweet.

If given the option between spending $250 on a 30GB iPod that you need to fill yourself, or a free Zune that you're locked into paying what would work out to $360 for over two years (at current rates) that you get a subscription service with, what would you choose?

Zune for free with a phone-like plan? [Zune Online]