Microsoft’s Argo to Rival Apple’s iPod

More reports are coming in about Microsoft’s so-called iPod-killer, code-named the Argo.  Bloomberg News reports the device may be available for the 2006 holiday season.  J Allard, founding member of the Xbox platform project, and Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division, are governing the project.  Their successful launches of the Xbox and Xbox 360 bode well for the iPod rival. 

Microsoft Xbox Vice President J Allard is overseeing the development of the company’s digital player, the people familiar with Microsoft’s plans said. It also is being developed under the supervision of Robbie Bach, who leads the unit that produces the Xbox video-game console. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer last year tapped Bach to take on the added role of overseeing Microsoft’s music strategy. With the Xbox, Bach had overseen the most significant of Microsoft’s few forays into building its own hardware.

Microsoft has traditionally opted to partner with other companies rather than develop hardware.  With the exception of the Xbox and the Xbox 360, most Microsoft hardware offerings haven’t done so well.  They discontinued their broadband routers and NICs (Network Interface Cards) and seem to have no intention to wade back into those markets.

The Argo will allow consumers to download media files via Wi-Fi, a feature iPod devices lack.  The ability to download songs on the go is an extremely attractive difference.  The Wi-fi capability will also allow users to connect to other Argo devices  Microsoft has had plans to develop a new online media service, called URGE, since late lst year.  The company is working hard to garner fresh content for its service:

Microsoft hired music industry executive Chris Stephenson, who is among Microsoft officials who have met with music and Hollywood companies to seek licenses for their content, according to industry officials with knowledge of the plans. J Allard, 37, a Microsoft Xbox vice president, is overseeing the development of the device, the people said.

Microsoft met with music companies including EMI Group Plc and Universal Music Group, and TV broadcasters NBC, Fox and CBS Corp. to gain content for a music and video store to compete with Apple’s iTunes, according to people familiar with the meetings. Sally Julien, a spokeswoman for Microsoft, declined to comment, as did representatives of the music companies and TV networks.  

Apple has quite a hold on the portable media device market.  The team leading the Argo project, however, has a proven track record for success.  It will be interesting to see how the two giants stack up this holiday season.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Apple, Argo, Bloomberg News, iPod, J Allard, Microsoft, Online Media, Robbie Bach, Tech, Technology, Technology News, Xbox / Xbox 360

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