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November 03, 2006

Microsoft Courts Blogs for Zune

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 11/03/2006 06:16:00 PM
Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq MSFT) gave 6 bloggers free trips to Redmond for a sneak peak at Zune. This just shows how important blogs have become in building word of mouth marketing and awareness particularly for younger users.

Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Not long after Microsoft Corp. announced in July that it would challenge Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, Internet blogger Craig Lile found himself on a flight to Seattle to get a first look at the competing device.

Lile, 29, who writes under the pen name Dodge, was one of six tastemakers from the independent-music scene hand-picked by Microsoft -- and given free air fare and hotel -- to check out its Zune player, which goes on sale Nov. 14.

Microsoft says it can crack iPod's monopoly on ``cool'' by harnessing key Web reviewers like Lile and sponsoring band tours to court fans of so-called indie music. Emerging fringe bands on independent labels can sway the larger market, Microsoft says. With Apple controlling 77 percent of the $4 billion U.S. market for digital-player sales, gaining converts may be difficult. Lile's own conclusion about Zune won't make it any easier.

The Zune is geared towards the XBox crowd which is 18-28.

Microsoft, which will sell Zune for $249.99, is trying to attract 18-to-28-year olds with an FM-radio tuner and the ability to beam songs from one device to another, features the iPod doesn't have. Apple, which sells a $249 video iPod with the same amount of storage, doesn't comment on its marketing plans, said spokesman Steve Dowling. And they'll be hitting campuses.

When Zune hits stores, about 140 paid college students designated as ``Zune ambassadors'' will fan out on campuses to organize parties and events, Stephenson said. Microsoft is also funding tours from bands such as Brazil's CSS, or Cansei de Ser Sexy (Portuguese for ``tired of being sexy''). The group is known for the profane broken-English lyrical stylings of lead singer Lovefoxxx.

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