First thing's first: the Zune Phone is a very real product being worked on by Microsoft. We don't know much concrete about it: our source merely says that it is being discussed around water coolers as Microsoft's answer to the iPhone. "It's definitely in the works." What "it" will be is still a big questioning curlicue.
Over at Zune Scene, they're positing that the Microsoft will be working with Nokia to deliver Zune Marketplace content to their phones. Curiously, Zune Scene's Nokia source claims: "If there is a Zune Phone, I don't know anything about it."
Taking both leaks together makes for some curious extrapolation. Nokia working with Microsoft isn't totally absurd, but not on hardware: Microsoft tends to be very proprietary about that, and it's hard to imagine they would want to share credit on any iPhone-killing phone. And as Zune Scene's tipster makes clear, Nokia clearly has heard nothing of an actual Zune Phone.
So does the existence of a real Zune Phone stop Nokia from getting Zune Marketplace affiliation? For any product besides the Zune, that would seem to be a real dilution of the brand. In this case, though, the Zune brand means absolutely nothing unless Microsoft can redeem it.
Testing some of the Zune Marketplace phone features with trusted third-parties, only to roll the whole iPhone-esque package out at a later date once the kinks have been worked out, might be an idea Microsoft's toying with. The Zune was born after years spent licensing software like Plays For Sure to third-party manufacturers, only to eventually tire of these partners' perceived incompetence and release the Zune... which was compatible with none of their existing software anyway.
The Zune Phone could be an extension of that pattern: weary of third-party manufacturers' perceived inabilities to deliver a handset truly capable of showcasing Windows Mobile, Microsoft goes ahead with a Zune Phone. What would truly be hilarious is if the Zune Phone, like the Zune itself, didn't co-operate with Microsoft's existing mobile phone solution, Windows Mobile: another doublethink blunder from a company that routinely manages to accidentally compete against itself. Source...