Unveiling its Zune portable media player last week, Microsoft Corp sought to focus attention on all the whiz-bang capabilities of the new device.
But just as notable is something the Zune doesn’t do.
Microsoft says the device won’t play tracks or albums bought through existing music services affiliated with its own Windows Media “PlaysForSure” initiative. Those services — such as Napster, MTV’s Urge and Yahoo Music Unlimited — have been partnering with Microsoft and device makers to try to challenge Apple Computer’s iPod and iTunes juggernaut.
The PlaysForSure program and music services will continue even with the Zune’s launch, Microsoft says. But analysts say the rise of the Zune, and the device’s incompatibility with the PlaysForSure services, promise to further reduce the potential market for those Microsoft partners.
The situation could be “very, very disruptive” for the existing PlaysForSure services, said analyst Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research.