Dramatic title, right? Well, it's just my opinion, but from the confirmed specs listed on Microsoft's release about the new Zune HD, I believe it is doomed to reside in the shadow of Apple's iPod alongside the rest of it's brethren. If things change between today and it's release then maybe the Zune HD has a chance. The people are eager to have choices in a Portable Media Player and therefore eager for the Zune brand to succeed. I know I am.
At first blush, the Zune HD is beautiful, inside and out. OLED multi-touch screen, HD Radio, HD Video playback, Wi-Fi, and web browsing all in a nicely designed package. Then, a closer look reveals that the unit is missing some important information. Is there going to be an "app store?" Did they increase the DPI on the screen? (The iPod Touch DPI is 163ppi.) Internet Explorer based browsing? Really? Cost? Hard drive size? (If you want HD video, it'd better be larger than 32GB.)
The biggest issue here is some sort of third party application delivery. Without the app store, the Ipod Touch would just be a fancy media player. The applications bring it to a whole new level. Not really a PDA but not only a media player. In order for people to switch over to the Zune HD, they have to know that they'll receive the same experience, i.e. downloadable applications of all types and purposes. So far, a few games aren't going to persuade users. I want to download my email, send a "twit" on Twitter, I want to be able to post on WordPress from it! That is the strength of the iPod touch. If the Zune HD really is meant to go "head to head" than that app store needs to open soon.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for Microsoft succeeding and providing us with more choices for out entertainment delivery. The Zune HD does some things right. HD Radio is the future (distant, but certain) and I am glad that it is included. Although I wonder about the reception, our car's HD radio reception isn't all that great. OLED screens will save on battery power and, unlike LCD technology, OLED can display true blacks.
If the Zune wanted to pull ahead of Apple, they would add a microphone and a video capable camera to the unit along with their own app store. That's the winning combination right there.
Like I said, I hope that the Zune HD becomes a viable option in the PMP market, but I really doubt it will. That seems to be the Zune legacy.