Microsoft may have another new audio player up its sleeve: The Zune "3rd," as it's being dubbed. The tip came in the form of a supposed advertising image, seen below, courtesy of Gizmodo.
News of this Zune, which appears to have a super widescreen format and touch-sensitive controls, comes hot on the heels of leaks about a new Zune "HD," which will purportedly have a full-touch interface and a burnished aluminum body. It's not clear where the 3rd Zune would fit into the digital audio player spectrum, it's not quite big enough to be a hard drive-based Zune, but not quite small enough to be a flash-based Nano competitor.
As with the earlier Zune HD leaks, it's hard to tell if these Zune 3rd images fell off the back of an advertising agency hard drive, or if this is some very good fan art. A couple of Photoshop jocks weighed-in at Gizmodo claiming these are fakes. While the Zune 3rd appears to fit in with Microsoft's current style, it doesn't quite mingle with what we saw of the Zune HD. Which of these new Zunes is real, if any? Only Redmond knows.
One thing certain is that Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, headed by Robbie Bach, needs the next Zune to be a hit. Sales of the Zune tanked this past holiday season—everyone was hurting, but Zune was down 54% versus iPod's 16% drop in the fourth quarter.