Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, has announced that the Zune software may soon be adopted by a raft of Windows Mobile devices in a bid to steal the iPod's thunder.
Although Ballmer has already told Reuters (opens in new tab) that they will not be building a phone, he did say to CIO magazine (opens in new tab) that the Zune software will ultimately migrate to other platforms and could possibly be part of the delayed Windows Mobile 7 operating system which won't be available until the second half of 2009.
Like Google's Android platform, it is highly likely that Microsoft will push Zune as an integral part of its mobile offerings in a bid to make Windows Mobile more attractive. What does that mean? Well, there's the quasi-certainty that Windows 7 Mobile will come with Zune and that it will also power a slew of smartphones. This means that technically, there will be Zune phones on sale by this time next year.
However, just like Google, don't expect Microsoft to build (and brand) Zune phones explicitly. Instead their partners (HTC, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG) will be encourage to use Zune as their multimedia platform. Which brings up another interesting question.
Now, the $64,000 question. Since Microsoft wants to emulate Apple's combined ipod+itunes success, will it offer customised Windows Marketplace versions to suit the needs of its partners?
Stay tune for more! The mobile arena is suddenly becoming more interesting than following Windows and Linux on the desktop.