Microsoft Submits Docs to FCC for Prototype Device
Despite denials by Microsoft that a Zune Phone is getting ready to hatch, a recent filing to the Federal Communications Commission reveals that some type of prototype device is in the works. What’s unusual is that the document comes from a consortium of Microsoft, Intel, HP, Dell, and Phillips rather than a single source.
The device has the ability to bypass the telecom companies all together and use WiMAX VOIP (routing of phone calls through the internet). WiMAX is similar to Wi-Fi because of high bandwidth capabilities, but the range is much greater than Wi-Fi making the technology feasible for cell phone use. The theoretical bandwidth would be orders of magnitude greater than the technology on the upcoming iPhone, potentially giving a large advantage to the device over it’s assumed competition. Although we can not be sure how the device will be branded and marketed, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on as a possible Zune Phone architecture.
Call Center Awarded (Zune?) Phone Support Contract
The Phillipine based call center Global Sky issued a press release indicating they were selected to support a new Wi-Fi enabled phone under develoment by Microsoft:
"Microsoft recently awarded Global Sky - a Manila-based call center outsourcing company, the task of providing customer service and research support for their latest project: the launching of a mobile phone device that operates anywhere users can get Wi-Fi access. ...
Microsoft has selected Global Sky, one of only two approved Microsoft call center vendors in the Philippines to spearhead the customer support and product researching efforts. Global Sky must answer customer queries and get detailed information that will help Microsoft further evolve this concept. If the concept works, Microsoft may make it accessible to the 95 million+ overseas workers worldwide and even make it available to businesses worldwide as a way to cut cell phone bills or ensure reliable & private communications. Microsoft partners are pleased with the way the project has been handled so far and have assured Global Sky of ongoing relations as they evolve this concept."
The word Zune does not appear in the press release, however, it's not likely that Microsoft is developing a second Wi-Fi enabled phone as a seperate project.
Zune Phone Rumors
A recent tip was given to the tech site Crunchgear.com providing some details and launch date for the the Zune Phone. The tipster identified the following points:
• It will be a smartphone
• It will not use Windows Mobile
• It will connect to Zune Marketplace
• The interface will be similar to the Zune MP3 Player
• It will connect and sync to the XBOX 360 wirelessly
• It will be available in 2007 for the holidays
Shortly after the rumor spread through the internet the official Zune Insider blog responded with a post:
"Zune Rumor Du Jour: Phone - It makes sense that Zune could be a part of a phone experience. But there has been no determination of how that will be executed or when it will happen."
The statement attempts to calm the buzz around the Zune Phone rumor but does not deny the existance of a phone, or the feature list proposed by Crunchgear. In fact the original trademark filing for the Zune brand specifically includes a cell phone device as part of the brand. A 2007 Zunephone launch is feasible, the timing would be well suited to compete with the June launch of the iPhone.
The Zune Phone is expected to be part of the Zune platform. Here are the rumored specs for the device:
4GB flash memory for music storage
Zune marketplace compatability
Bluetooth headset with stereo headphones
Black, White and Brown color schemes
Dark chrome accents
1 USB port
Extended battery life
Stay tuned as we seek out the secrets of the Zune Phone