Microsoft Zune hits Canada in June
Microsoft Corp.'s Zune media player, the company's answer to Apple Inc.'s ubiquitous iPod, will be available in Canadian stores on June 13, the company said Tuesday.
Like the iPod and other media players, the Zune supports video, audio, photos and other images. The Zune also has an FM radio tuner and a built-in wireless connection that allows users to share music.
"Zune is more than just a music player for Canadians, it's a shared, social experience," said Craig Tullett, group manager for Zune Canada, in a statement. "We're excited to offer people an innovative way to discover, share and enjoy their music wherever they go."
Three players will be available: an 80 GB model and two smaller, flash-memory based models, with 4 GB and 8 GB of memory. One GB of storage is enough to store about 250 songs or 75 minutes of video.
The 4 GB and 8 GB flash players will have a suggested retail price of $139.99 and $189.99, respectively, while the 80 GB player will sell for $249.99.
The company had announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it would be selling the media players in Canada, but hadn't revealed pricing.
The company said that starting Tuesday Canadian customers would be able download free Zune software and join the Zune online music community.
Canada will be the first market outside the United States to get the Zune.
Microsoft has sold 1.2 million Zunes since the portable media player first launched in November 2006, a fraction of the over 100 million units Apple has sold since it launched the iPod in 2001.
Part of what has held the Zune back was that it has only been available for sale in the United States, while iPods and other media players by companies such as SanDisk are available worldwide.
The announcement comes the same day Microsoft said it would begin selling TV shows on the Zune marketplace, Microsoft's online media store, a move that brings its selection of content closer to what Apple's iTunes stores offer for the iPod.
Starting Tuesday, Microsoft will sell episodes of TV shows including Comedy Central's South Park and Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica for $1.99 US each.
Microsoft made no further announcement about when a Canadian version of Zune marketplace will launch, though it had previously said it would come later in the year.
With files from the Associated Press