Microsoft's Zune to Offer VoIP?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 10, 2008

What does Microsoft plan to do with Zune next? There’s a good chance that the Redmond giant may enable Web-calling functionality.

An October job ad from Microsoft advertises for a user experience designer with “experience with human interface and navigation models requiring engineering prototypes of dpads, switches, accelerometers, touch screen input variables” and “sensibility for mobile communications and entertainment applications.” Does this mean Microsoft is building a phone? Not necessarily. (In fact, Microsoft vehemently denies, denies, denies any phone-doing.) Microsoft may simply be designing Web-calling capabilities into the Zune, which can connect to the Web via Wi-Fi networks, says Rick Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group.

A Web-calling app for Zune makes a lot of sense: Zune can be used for gaming. So this capability would allow players to talk to each other while playing shoot-‘em-ups or car racing games. Ok, some players may also call mom.

Reader Comments

Doug MacMillan

December 11, 2008 5:19 PM

Are we supposing VOIP only because the job ad said "mobile communications?" Couldn't this also mean SMS or, more likely, some form of web-based instant messaging? To me, IM seems a lot more plausible on the Zune than VOIP, since you need so much bandwidth for the latter and the service is still likely to be spotty.

4DThinker

December 12, 2008 9:20 AM

It can't be the current line of Zunes. You'll need a microphone and preferably a speaker over headphones. Doug is probably closer, although the 320x240 screen on current Zunes would be pushing it for a keyboard. I'll bet on the next generation. They have to realize they'll need to compete with the iPod Touch, P3 and P4 from Samsung, and the Cowon S9 that should be out any day now if they want more PMP market share.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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