Zune: Equipped for Success

Hoping to replicate the success of iPod accessory market, Belkin and other makers are releasing a flurry of add-ons for Microsoft's music player

Microsoft isn't the only company working overtime in preparation for the launch of the Zune music player. A host of other makers of consumer-electronics accessories are furiously preparing for the debut of the would-be iPod rival.

And Microsoft isn't leaving all the add-ons to other companies. The software maker has listed more than 20 Zune-related accessories on newly created Zune.net, a Microsoft-managed site on everything Zune. About half are Microsoft's own creations, including everything from a dock to a travel pack, carrying price tags as high as $99.99. But industry insiders speculate that Zune Marketplace could also offer some social-networking features reminiscent of Xbox Live, where gamers can play against one another, accumulate points, and chat. Just as Xbox Live promotes third-party games, the Zune site might promote third-party software and accessories. Microsoft wasn't available to comment on its plans. Still, what accessory makers have seen from Microsoft so far has been reassuring. "Apple has consciously developed an ecosystem around the iPod," says Jeff Holve, vice-president of product marketing at Logitech's audio division. "Microsoft is approaching Zune with exactly the same heart."

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