After a UK exec spilled the beans, Microsoft officially announced that it will be releasing a tool to allow phones running its Windows Phone 7 software to sync some content with Apple Macintosh computers. The official announcement lacked the promise of a twitter message sent earlier by the exec that Microsoft was preparing a full blown version of its Zune software for the Mac.
The Zune software is needed to sync information and media between WP7 phones and a computer. However, Microsoft only makes a PC version of the application. Without some means to sync the phones with Apple products, there would be a strong incentive for Mac owners to shun WP7. When you have as small a share of the mobile market as Microsoft has, it's probably not a good idea to turn you back on any potential customers.
In its official statement on the WP7-Mac connection, the company said, "Later in 2010 Microsoft will make a public beta available of a tool that allows Windows Phone 7 to sync select content with Mac computers."
That statement is more narrowly construed than an earlier tweet by Microsoft UK's head of Windows Phone marketing Oded Ran, which was subsequently removed from Twitter. "ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm glad to confirm that Mac users would be able to use Zune on their Macs to sync with #WP7," Ran tweeted. "More details soon."
Phones based on WP7 are the first to deliver an iTunes-like experience to Windows users. All media, photos, music and videos can be synchronised between the Zune software and the phone. In addition, Zune Pass, a subscription service that allows subscribers to listen to from 8 million to 10 million songs on demand, will be available to WP7 users in some countries when the phones reach the shelves on October 21.
If Microsoft made a full fledged version of its Zune software available on the Mac, it would give Mac owners who bought WP7 phones the kind of experience they'd get with an iPhone, plus a subscription music service, which doesn't exist at Apple's iTunes store. Moreover, the move could win some converts for Microsoft's Zune media player, which has a pathetic 2 percent market share compared with Apple's iPod line which has over 70 percent of the pie.
Microsoft's announcement of "a tool" for syncing WP7 and Macs, though, pretty much tosses a wet blanket on that pipe dream.