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Will Zune follow iTunes?

April 6, 2007

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Microsoft may be inking a deal with EMI to sell DRM-free digital music, much like iTunes has annouced earlier this week, according to recent rumours.

Zune’s marketing director Jason Reindorp has said “we’ve been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content.”

Zune, Microsoft’s answer to the iPod-iTunes digital music solution, has 11% to 12% market share among hard disk-based media players. The problem is that hard drive-based devices only account for a quarter to a third of all media players sold (the rest using flash memory) so Microsoft actually has only a small percentage of a small percentage of the market.

Reindorp admited that droping DRM “does open things up a little bit. It potentially makes the competition more of a device-to-device or service-to-service basis, and will force the various services to really innovate”, which is in Microsoft’s direct interest.

EMI declined to comment on the speculation, though it reiterated that iTunes was just one of a number of digital music stores from which it anticipated selling DRM-free tracks “in the coming weeks”.

An EMI spokesman said: “Negotiations with other platforms, such as Zune, are ongoing.”

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