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Microsoft Sets $249 Price Tag For Zune

Redmond, Wash — Microsoft announced pricing and delivery for its new Zune digital audio “iPod killer” to be available Nov. 14 at a $249 suggested retail price, exactly the same as Apple’s newly released 30GB iPod at $249.

The Zune player, also with 30GB of storage, will work seamlessly with a new Microsoft subscription and download online service that will charge $.99 per song download or $14.99 per month for subscription.

In addition to the subscription option, a differentiator to the iPod is that the Zune will come with a selection of pre-loaded songs, music videos and film shorts to help consumers discover new artists. Microsoft is also touting a Zune “sharing feature” as a key differentiator. The sharing feature lets Zune users wirelessly transmit songs to each other for a free trial, three-day period.

Microsoft is hailing the Zune as creating a “shared, social experience,” in the words of Chris Stephenson, global marketing GM for Zune.

The Zune will also be accompanied by a selection of accessories including a home speaker accessory package at $99.99, a travel speaker pack, also at $99.99 and a car charger and adapter at $79.99.

The pre-loaded media on the Zune will include at least nine songs, 12 music videos, three film shorts and a variety of images.

Industry members and retailers had earlier expected the Zune to be released at $299. During the interim, Apple released its 30GB iPod at $249.

Other features of the Zune include Wi-Fi capability, built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen. It will come in three colors: black, brown and white.