When we first caught wind that Microsoft was in fact doing its own portable media player (and then published the first ever photo of the Zune), we hoped it might finally be the play to knock the iPod off its perch. Sure, in mid 2006 there was no shortage of devices more advanced than any given iPod, but then (and now) the iPod enjoyed unchecked dominance of the market in the US and many countries abroad. Steve Jobs knew the day would come that Microsoft would really enter the game.
What we were hoping for was that the portable media world might be in store for another Sony / Nintendo upset. Remember in the 90s how Sony and Nintendo's partnership went awry, and Sony, totally sick of Nintendo completely owning the game console space, brought out the original PlayStation? Before the console's second generation was through Sony had more market share than they knew what to do with. Sony upped Nintendo's game with the PlayStation, then upped their own with the PlayStation 2 -- and took over.
If Sony could do the impossible and topple the infallible Nintendo of old, surely Microsoft, the world's largest technology company, could make at least make a dent in Apple's armor. Yeah, the first-gen product is important, but the second gen product is crucial, because if you can't up your game -- and everyone else's -- you're just another player. This year, Microsoft really had to make the Zune count. Read on to judge for yourself whether they did.
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