zunedevicefamily.jpgMicrosoft is upping the ante in the mobile electronics arena with new models and features for use with its Zune iPod-fighting multimedia player. New offerings include smaller flash-based models and a social networking site built around sharing music and media files with other Zune Users. All this comes as Microsoft tries to wrestle valuable market share away from the venerable Apple iPod.

The Mac music player controls more than 70 percent of the music player market while the original Zune takes up only a tenth of the industry. The new Zunes feature touch-sensitive navigation buttons instead of old-century scroll wheels. Microsoft has also improved the wireless syncing with home PCs and the ability of Zune music players to interact and share with other Zune devices. The new models will hit stores in November.

zune80gb.jpg“Twenty years ago we bet the company on an integrated productivity suite of word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and we changed the way people work,” said Microsoft Messiah Bill Gates while unveiling the new Zune models. “Today, we’re making big bets on games, music, and video and connecting these entertainment experiences to help change the way people play.”

zune4gb8gb-green.jpgThere are three new Zunes for the Microsoft faithful to choose from: A black Zune with 80 gigabytes of hard drive memory space and a 3.2-inch full color LCD screen, and two colorful ultra-portable species that utilize flash memory and can hold up to 4GB and 8GB of data, respectively. “It’s a nice evolutionary development to the product line,” said one marketing research analyst.

To date, Zune will be the only mobile music platform with it’s own exclusive website geared towards social and multimedia networking between consumers. This interactivity will hopefully chip away at the iTunes stranglehold on web-based music sales—we’ll all have to wait and see!

Related Links: Microsoft Zune Mobile Music Player