Rumour Mill: Portable Xbox Called ‘Zune’?

Previously known as project ‘Argo’.

Posted by Staff
Rumour Mill: Portable Xbox Called ‘Zune’?
A revelatory piece by investigative journalist Brier Dudley in yesterday’s Seattle Times claims that J Allard’s much-hyped, hugely secretive “iPod-killer” will also play games as part of a full line-up of Xbox-branded products.

According to Dudley, the project is apparently code-named 'Argo' – the name of Greek mythological hero Jason’s ship, as opposed to, say, code-name 'Troj', after the mythological Trojan Horse.

Or, should you choose to believe gadget site Gizmodo, project 'Argo' is now apparently finally named 'Zune'. Either way, true or false, it’s good to see that the names being bandied about are as equally ludicrous as Xbox 360 and Wii. SPOnG expects nothing less.

For the purposes of this news piece, we will refer to it as the 'Zune’ – for no reason other than it's a superbly daft name and therefore, going by recent cultural trends in games industry product naming, highly likely to be a contender.

The rumour mill went into overdrive following earlier reports from Bloomberg of a planned iPod Rival (‘MiPod?’ suggested some wag in the SPOnG office earlier) in the pipeline supposedly launching this Christmas. Rumours of a portable Xbox project have of course been floating around for some time now, many emanating from Dean Takahashi of the San Jose Mercury News, who has recently written a detailed and well-received book on the Xbox project. Read SPOnG's reports on these from earlier in the year right here.

Back to the 'Zune'. Dudley outlines in his Seattle Times piece: “A few details trickled out last week from music companies that Microsoft is lining up to support the device. Microsoft isn't commenting, but I was able to piece together a broader picture with some research, reporting and information from a source close to the project. What's being developed is actually a complete line of Xbox-branded digital-media products, including a device that plays media, a software media player and an online media service.”

He added: “This is more than just another MP3 player. It will also compete with game players from Sony and Nintendo that have long had Wi-Fi and work as media players, Internet terminals and communication devices.”

Dudley also suggests that ‘the Zune’ will utilise Microsoft’s XNA game development toolkit, which enables developers to create titles for multiple platforms.

He also went onto speculate that, “...the timing of the hype cycle is perfect…Microsoft's annual meeting with financial analysts is July 27, and it's looking bleak. Wall Street is furious Microsoft won't be selling new versions of Windows and Office in the fall as promised….Argo [Zune] could help the December quarter and give executives something to discuss with analysts other than product delays, Bill Gates' departure and the high cost of doing battle with Google.”

It's all very interesting yet highly speculative stuff. Microsoft, as is the company's way with these things, has so far declined to offer any 'official' comment.

Expect to see a news update with more facts and fewer ‘rumours’ from insiders or moles in the coming days. In the meantime, to confuse the issue just a little more, check out this pic of 'The Zune' that's currently doing the rounds on the gadget blogs, and let us know what you think in the forum below.

(Main Sources: The Seattle Times, Gizmodo, Engadget)


config 11 Jul 2006 18:08
Zune - gayest product name ever, closely following Wii. Single syllable, long vowelled words *never* make for cool in a product names.

Stick a "u" on the front of it. uZune. See? Still gay and utterly derivative, just like the product, but miles better.
TwoADay 11 Jul 2006 18:49
The game bit is not happening if that's a real prototype. The complete lack of buttons should be everyone's first clue.

It'll be interesting if this little bit of news pans out, and how it will be marketed. That little pic is definately showing that it will try to battle the iPod, to nobody's suprise, but the real interesting thing will be how it's marketed...
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tyrion 11 Jul 2006 18:55
Yeah, but 'Z' is the new 'X' - skip 'Y' altogether, that's just lame. Expect ZBox 720, Windows Zardoz, and Office Zorro to come out next!

Unless Vista indicates that they are going the other way through the alphabet. Zune could be a red herring! We could be looking for the Vista Live Anywhere Box 1080!!
Chris C 11 Jul 2006 22:20
everything that got called an iPod killer failed- they would do well to make sure people don't compare it to the iPod.
I hope that when they do the software they remember the other operating systems, or even better- use open standards which will allow the open source community to make the software.

Would wifi allow you to listen to internet radio?

OptimusP 12 Jul 2006 12:23
MS hired Nintendo's people who came up with Wii didn't they...Wii is slowly getting to stick (except with english folks offcourse, since your language is phonetical broken anyway) but Zune...?

C'mon Sony , change the PS3 to PiPii3 or something really silly, this is the moment!
SilverDogg 13 Jul 2006 02:02
OptimusP wrote:
MS hired Nintendo's people who came up with Wii didn't they...Wii is slowly getting to stick (except with english folks offcourse, since your language is phonetical broken anyway) but Zune...?

C'mon Sony , change the PS3 to PiPii3 or something really silly, this is the moment!

they dont need to change anything, they have "poos".
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