Microsoft, who it appears has no interest in the consumer market in Australia other than flogging Xbox 360 consoles that overheat, is set to snub Australians again by not launching their new Zune media player.
This is despite the fact that the company claims that it is better than the Apple iPod which sells in Australia by the container load.
In the USA, Microsoft has announced that the latest version of its answer to the Apple iPod will go on sale in the United States on September 15.
The new Zune HD will come in two versions, with capacities of 16 and 32 gigabytes. It has a 3.3-inch OLED touch-screen, built-in wifi and radio receiver, and can store and play back video content in high definition (720p) using a special dock connected to a television set.
In Australia, Microsoft has a track record of failure in the consumer marketplace.
They have failed to launch a music site despite promising one in January 2007.
They have failed to launch an EPG for the Microsoft Media Centre.
They have also failed to launch any application or content sites for their media centre similar to what is available for US consumers.
In the USA, Microsoft has aggressively priced the Zune at $80 less than Apple charges for its similar iPod touch.
Microsoft PR officials along with senior management have refused point blank to comment about the consumer market or give a reason as to why Microsoft is refusing to launch the Zune player here despite the fact that it is designed to work in tandem with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 games console.
A former Microsoft marketing official now working at a major consumer electronics company said “Microsoft Australia has no interest in the Australian consumer market. The market is too small for them. They see it as a pissant of a market when compared to the USA”.
Another senior Microsoft executive now working for a major software company in Australia said “Microsoft senior management have scaled back their consumer operations. They see the market as being of no value. They are hanging in with the Xbox by selling to existing customers. They are also trying to build out online sales via Windows Live. In the past they have hated dealing with the likes of Harvey Norman and they see no value in consumer products. All their marketing is geared to the enterprise and small business markets”.
The new Zune is the third version of Microsoft’s portable player. Until now, the device has failed to achieve anything like the success of Apple’s ubiquitous iPod range, which commands around 70 per cent of the market for portable players worldwide.
In the Windows Mobile marketplace, Microsoft is struggling to hold onto market share with a senior Telstra official admitting at the carriers recent results briefing that “Microsoft is almost out of the race. They are going to find it tough to compete with Google and Apple going forward”.