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The new Microsoft digital audio player which is being launched in an attempt to take in Apple is set to be launched in Australia in the last quarter of 2006 with an estimated retail price of $399.00.

Microsoft is in the process of unveiling to select retailers in the USA the first of its line of Zune wearable digital audio players and informed retailers say that they have been told that Microsoft will launch a single unit soon in three colors at a suggested retail price of US$299. SHN has been told that Harvey Norman has already been briefed on the product.

Retailers who have been briefed by Microsoft have said that the the player will offer Wi-Fi capability, but will require that the portable be connected to a PC for the actual purchase of songs. Retailers, who claimed Microsoft remained “fuzzy” on the Zune’s wireless capability, said only that Zune will allow users to bookmark songs that may be shared via Wi-Fi, but that users cannot purchase songs on the go from the Microsoft Zune Web site.

Both retailers said the player would incorporate a 30GB hard drive. One said the unit’s display screen would be larger than Apple’s iPod models. The retailers were pleased with Microsoft’s feature-per-price package.

One retailer also said that Microsoft plans to continue to support its PlaysForSure licensees, even while it launches its own media Web site and sells its own digital media player, effectively competing with these same licensees.

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