The red Zune will be available exclusively at Target and Amazon.com for 30 days beginning Sunday and then will be available at the same retail locations where Zune currently is sold thereafter. Red Zune will retail for $220 and have the same tech specs as its Zune peers.
Microsoft declined to discuss the decision to partner with Target and Amazon.com on the debut of the red Zune, with spokesperson Sara Bell telling Marketing Daily that "Microsoft typically does not disclose the details of its partnerships."
However, the timing of red Zune's launch does coincide nicely with Father's Day, around which both Target and Amazon.com will market. Microsoft is not planning anything specific around Father's Day, "except to note to a variety of media that Zune makes a delightful gift for dads," Ball says.
In May, Zune debuted a pink edition and launched a print media campaign called "Sync Pink" timed with Mother's Day. It quickly became the No. 2 seller in the Zune product portfolio.
Zune's next product release will be the special, limited-edition Halo 3-themed Zune, which go on sale exclusively at Game Stop stores on June 15 for $249.99. The device will be black with a screen printed with Halo graphics, will come in a special collectible box and will be pre-loaded with a collection of content from the entire Halo videogame series, including videos, soundtracks, trailers and artwork.
Zune still is struggling to gain market share in the iPod-dominated portable HDD market, though Microsoft is on track to sell 1 million devices by the end of June. However, the June 29 launch date of the iPhone is certainly a factor to consider when projecting how the rest of the year will play out for Zune. Many of its early customers were the same type of tech-savvy, early adopters who are waiting to get their hands on the iPhone.
In an attempt to build spirit among members of the Zune team, an "iPod Amnesty Bin" was placed in Microsoft's offices a few weeks ago. News of it hit the tech blogs immediately, prompting speculation that it was an initiative from on high to bolster Zune brand loyalty, which Ball disputes.
"The 'iPod Amnesty Bin' was a lighthearted gesture among Zune employees and was intended to be simply a humorous motivator for only the people who are working on the project," Ball says. "It was not a company-wide program, and the bin is no longer in the lobby of the Zune building."