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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Microsoft's Zune & Social Sharing of Video

Microsoft revealed more details about its Zune portable media player, and the digital media marketplace they're building, today.

Initially, Zune looks like a me-too product, chasing after Apple's market-leading iPod and iTunes Music Store.

But here's something important that Zune will do that the iPod doesn't: allow for the social sharing of media from one Zune player to another. From the press release:

    Every Zune device creates an opportunity for connection. Wireless Zune-to- Zune sharing lets consumers spontaneously share full-length sample tracks of select songs, homemade recordings, playlists or pictures with friends between Zune devices. Listen to the full track of any song you receive up to three times over three days. If you like a song you hear and want to buy it, you can flag it right on your device and easily purchase it from the Zune Marketplace.

That's quite cool, and something I've longed to do ever since I bought my first-generation iPod.

How might sharing work for video? Well, first, it'd take longer to share a video than to share a song. But I love the idea of being able to beam you the first five minutes of a TV show I own, or the first minute of a music video, or perhaps the first 10 minutes of a movie (I imagine the content owner would be able to specify how much of a piece of content could be shared, and how many times it could be viewed). If you like it, you'd be able to flag it, and later purchase the entire video.

The result: everyone who buys a piece of video becomes a potential viral marketer of that piece of video.

(Here's some CNET coverage of the Zune.)