When you talk about, even think about, digital content stores, Apple’s iTunes is the natural selection. It’s the dominant, mainstream store in the market. Amazon’s MP3 and video store pops up as second mention. Amazon being synonymous with retail. Microsoft is hoping to change that, or at least join the party.
The “Xbox Live” environment for gamers has been growing steadily. Microsoft has put money into original content and licensing. Still, that’s a niche market. In October, they went more mainstream and begin selling videos in their Zune Marketplace. The offerings at the time, however, were limited. Now, the Zune Marketplace is expanding a little more.
Starting Tuesday, Microsoft will begin offering TV content including programming from Viacom’s Comedy Central. (Microsoft signed a significant ad and promotional deal with Comedy Central parent, Viacom, earlier this year).
The Zune Marketplace will also provide a home for NBC Universal TV programming too. New episodes of popular shows like “The Office” had been removed from iTunes after Apple refused to incorporate flexible pricing. In the Zune Market, that won’t be a problem. Microsoft accepted the prospect of price flexibility as part of the license agreement.
Though the Zune has some interesting features as a media player – it’s ability to wirelessly sync with PC’s in particularly, it’s hard to count on these moves to strengthen the Zune Marketplace having a substantial impact on the product’s sales rate.
Since 2006, Microsoft has sold only about 2million Zunes. While that’s respectable, it pales next to iPod sales that range upwards of 10million a quarter. The availability of a few more titles in a digital store isn’t going to shift that in a measurable way.
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