How Much Is That Zune in the Window?An unconfirmed report in This Week In Consumer Electronics says that Microsoft plans to sell the Zune, the company's answer to Apple's ( AAPL) popular iPod music player, for $299. Articles on other sites also claim that the launch date has been set for Nov. 14. If true, the Zune would be roughly comparable to the iPod; both players have a capacity of 30GBs although the Zune reportedly will have a larger screen. Retailers who have been briefed by Microsoft said the player will offer WiFi capability, but will require that the portable be connected to a PC for the actual purchase of songs, according to the consumer-electronics publication. Microsoft did not comment on the report.
Early IndicatorsTech investors will get a much better fix on the hoped-for second-half surge next week when four important companies report earnings. The key, says Goldman Sachs analyst Laura Conigliaro, is Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), which reports Wednesday, along with Network Appliance ( NTAP). Brocade ( BRCD) and Dell ( DELL) follow on Thursday. Conigliaro, who rates H-P a buy, says the company's software business is likely to improve once it digests recently acquired Mercury Interactive ( MERQ), and the storage business "already sounds more competitive, with H-P's pricing power making it more difficult for competitors to continue to take share from it." Goldman Sachs has investment banking business with H-P and Mercury.
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