Hours before Apple Inc. is expected to introduce new iPods at a special event in San Francisco, rival Microsoft Corp. has announced that it is dropping the retail price of its 30GB Zune music player to $200.
Electronista points to a posting on Microsoft's Zune Insider blog making note of the $50 cost reduction:
"It's part of the normal product lifecycle, something we’ve had on the books for months," wrote Microsoft's Cesar Menendez. "We just got some research back and customer satisfaction with the 30GB device is really high (around 94 percent) and we expect even more consumers will now want to discover the Zune experience at the new lower price."
The price drop comes shortly after Mindy Mount, the corporate vice president and CFO of Microsoft's entertainment and device division, said that she grades the Zune a "B-" in its current state, noting that the player is doing well, saleswise, for "a product out in less than a year and a half," but that the company is still developing the brand and trying to expand its identity.
It's widely expected that Apple will use its "Beat Goes On" media event later this afternoon to usher in a new breed of Mac OS X-based iPods that with again broaden the gap between the Apple and Microsoft players.