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When discussing whether we would have a Windows Media Player 12
in its current format I proposed that Microsoft should really be heading the route of a combined WMP/Zune player to maximise the syncing capabilities with different devices. At present if you have a Zune and a Windows Mobile device you need to sync them in different ways so wouldn't it be great it we then subsequently had a convergence device which mixed the capabilities of Windows Mobile with the media power of the Zune.
Microsoft have denied that there will actually be a "Zune Phone" per se but that doesn't mean we won't head in the direction where Windows Mobile will, in future, be able to sync with the next generation of Zune software, whatever form it may take.
The acquisition of Sidekick manufacturer Danger by Microsoft makes this next generation convergence device a distinct possibility.
Having the phone manufacturer "in house" means that, like Apple with the iPhone, Microsoft will have full control over the design and development of the device and will be able to trade on the brand recognition already established by the Sidekick range. The Sidekick is very popular in the US amongst the young as it is easy to type on and therefore makes a great messaging device and a good illustration of this popularity was the very prominent production placement in the first series of the TV show Heroes. I lost count of the times we saw Claire Bennet
using her Sidekick II.
Microsoft have a great opportunity here to come up with a real winner providing the vision and subsequent marketing are handled properly. Any new device needs to be sleek and stylish whilst retaining the classic functionality and simplicity offered by the Sidekick range. As is often the way with these things a new device will take some time to develop so would be an ideal candidate for Windows Mobile 7 which is also designed to make things easier to use - a marriage made in heaven.
Part of the attraction of the Sidekick has always been the price; getting a Sidekick on T-Mobile in the UK will set you back no more than £29.99 for the device when bought with a contract whereas the vario III (aka HTC TyTN II) could cost you as much as £269.99. Microsoft will need to retain the price point of any new sidekicks in order to stay attractive and stay competitive.
If Microsoft and Danger can combine to produce a great device at a low price then Windows Mobile will be firmly established in the mobile phone market.