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Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest maker of software, may enter the lucrative business of digital music players by releasing its own device that will rival the successful iPod player from Apple Computer. Currently Microsoft is considering the market potential and its chances there and it is unclear whether the company will end up with a real product.

BusinessWeek magazine reported that the software giant was working on plans to develop its own portable digital media device would rival iPod and offering gaming capabilities to customers. Even though Microsoft executives have not confirmed the company’s intention to enter the new business, they also have not denied such a possibility and also implied on more capabilities that the device may have.

“It can’t just be our version of the iPod,” said Peter Moore, the chief of Xbox division at Microsoft. So in addition to playing music and videos, a Microsoft device would include games. Microsoft would probably use the Xbox brand to market the gadget. “I think the brand is an opportunity,” Moore said.

The gaming nature of the device would put it into position to compete against Sony’s PlayStation Portable, in addition to the iPod music player. In fact, selling players means some additional revenue for Microsoft – Apple sold 14 million iPod players during the Q4 2005 – and also some profits from selling digital music. Theoretically, Microsoft would also benefit from selling games for mobile flavour of the Xbox.

Microsoft Corp. currently makes keyboards and mice for PCs. Additionally, it offers MSN TV 2 Internet and media player product that allows to playback music and video downloaded from the Internet in addition to a bunch of other features.

The reason behind the iPod popularity is its ease of use and also sleek look. A device that would allow both gaming and media playback may not offer these two features. Nokia recently abandoned its N-Gage phones that once offered both media playback and gaming.

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