5g iPod nano & 3g iPod touch Pincer Movement: Zune HD Caught Between a Rock & a Hard Place

Microsoft clearly postioned their soon-to-be-released Zune HD mobile media machine as an iPod touch competitior. Here’s the problem with this strategy: Apple isn’t on the same battlefield anymore and they’ve changed the rules of the game. While Microsoft kept its eye on Apple’s 4th generation iPod touch, Apple executed a pincer movement. Apple doesn’t even have a 16GB iPod touch model to compete with the Zune HD 16GB model. And, while the Zune HD 32GB model is $10 cheaper than the new iPod touch 32GB model, it lacks the iPod’s vast app library. The Zune HD does have a few interesting unique features like its OLED screen, FM radio, and HD video output.

iPod nano 8GB $150
iPod nano 16GB $180

Zune HD 16GB $220
Zune HD 32GB $290

iPod touch 8GB $200
iPod touch 32GB $300
iPod touch 64GB $400

I think many of us were extremely disappointed when the new iPod touch appeared without a camera. However, the lower price and the appearance of the new 64GB model should help make up for that. The 5th generation iPod nano, however, probably caught a lot of us by surprise with the appearance of a number of unexpected new features.

The nano’s video camera has been predicted for months. I was, however, very surprised that it does not have the ability to take still digital photos. However, addition of a video camera is a welcome one and I suspect we’ll see many new YouTube video shot with it. The nano’s FM radio matches the same feature in the Zune. However, the nano has the ability to “Live Pause” radio programming and tag music you want to look up to buy later. The built-in Pedometer (without the need for special shoes although Nike+ is still supported) is nice small addition. Personally, I’m really looking forward to trying the pedometer myself. And, then, there’s the price. The 16GB nano is $180 (actually 179) and undercuts the Zune HD 16GB model with its $220 price tag by $40. Sure, the nano doesn’t have a touch screen or browser. But, I don’t think that will matter. My prediction is that the 5th generation iPod nano will be the most popular consumer electronics gift during the 2009 holiday season.