J Allard, the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) executive in charge of Zune, was interviewed by Reuters and one of the questions was: So are there any thoughts about a Zune phone?
“A: (Points to head) Yes. (Points to mouth) No. (Laughs) The thing we are focusing on is that Zune is music first. We think there is a lot of runway first in redefining the music experience with partners. That said, we built it on the same operating system as that phone right there. (Points to Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Q running Windows Mobile) So we have the flexibility to take these in a different direction where our customers, our partners and we are ready.”
That makes sense — successful music phones have come from two sources — experienced handset manufacturers who know the mobile phone business, and companies with strong music brands (Walkman, iPod). Zune is well known, but I don’t think the brand is strong enough yet to support a jump to a mobile handset…it probably will be at some point, though. Microsoft might avoid over-the-air music sales on the Zune phone as well: “Sync is so much more interesting than buy for the average consumer.” Things might change between now and then, but for now Allard seems to think that the shopping process on a portable device is not up to scratch.