Should the Zune Pass and Marketplace be released outside the US ahead of WP7 launch?

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As I was talking to a friend this past weekend pestering him about technology, we somehow ended up talking about about the iPhone, antennagate, iTunes, WP7 and the Zune software. He had recently purchased an iPhone 4 which he loves but then he talked about  how he hated the iTunes software. He has been searching for alternative software for music playback and purchase so me being the evangelist for everything Microsoft, I suggested that he should look into the Zune Client and pass (not to sync or purchase apps with iPhone mind you) including how this all fit in with the upcoming WP7. He thought about it for a second and then quipped “I have heard great things about the Zune but I have never tried it. I think I will seriously check it out” This was an eye opener that revealed to me the potential of the Zune software and ecosystem in WP7 and “ZuneHD2” if MS marketed it right this time around. Here was someone invested in the Apple ecosystem but was still looking for a better experience than what iTunes offers. What a great opportunity for MS to come in and save the day.

So what does this have to do with the Zune Pass & Marketplace launch outside the US? Liveside reported a few days ago that people in the UK could now sign up for a Zune pass. MS has already promised its availability to more countries when WP7 launches but now I think that they should open the floodgates and unleash the Zune pass/marketplace to those territories right now. Zune will be sent in as the vanguard  with the mission build an awareness and familiarity to platform so that when WP7 launches, MS can just say, “You know how you love the Zune software and Xbox live? You can now have it all on your phone too!” I think that can be a a great selling point.  Having Zune launch earlier additionally helps Microsoft work out all the software and licensing kinks with the new expanded audience  guaranteeing a pleasant user experience with the OS come fall.

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