Microsoft, Nokia hatch Zune phone plan

Microsoft may be working with Nokia to cook up a Zune phone to take on the iPhone, sources claim.

As reported by Electric Pig, Zunescene is claiming that Nokia will be building the hardware for the new Zune phone, with Microsoft’s support, the two partners will be making a “all out assault” on Apple, the report explains.

It appears Nokia is currently working with Microsoft on the integration of Zune Marketplace content, however, Nokia has its own music store in the form of the Nokia Music Store. Will Zune Marketplace be subsumed into the new service.

Reflecting comments from Jupiter Research analyst, Michael Gartenberg, it appears Microsoft plans to infiltrate Zune-branded media player features inside a future version of Windows mobile, while integrating its hardware through the deal with Nokia.

“Windows Mobile is a core platform and OS. No one has ever been successful licensing technology platforms to others and then competing with a device of their own. Apple failed (twice), Palm and Nokia all tried it and it just can’t be done. Microsoft now has traction with more than 20 million licenses out there and a great stream of partners and new phones for consumer and business use. A Zune phone from Microsoft would potentially hurt all that,” Gartenberg said, urging Microsoft to implement Zune-branded features within Windows Mobile.

The jury remains out on the purported phone, though, as Zunescene is reticent on any release date, and seems to be equivocal as to whether the device will ever see the light of day.

It’s possible the partners plan to introduce the device in conjunction with Nokia’s Comes With Music service, in which case Zune phone buyers will also get free tunes.

But with Apple seemingly prepared to change the game with release of an iPhone nano later this year, it’s not yet clear if the Nokia/Microsoft deal will stifle Apple.

Nokia will launch its N96 phone in October.

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