After we've given so much coverage to Apple for the forthcoming iPod launch, it only seems fair we do a similar round up for their,


, competition.

Things have been busy in the Zune camp over the last 24 hours with a Microsoft big cheese openly discussing the player's performance, a price cut and renewed rumours of a Zune phone.

First things first and Mindy Mount, the corporate vice president and of finanical officer of Microsoft's entertainment and device division, recently stated that, in her opinion, the Zune deserves a "B-" for current form and performance.

The usual argument about the player having not been on the market long (well over a year now) and still being a developing brand was cited for sales performance and the device not doing better than it is.

At the same event - a Citgroup conference - Mount also said that "It wouldn't be unreasonable to think at some point there might some integrated thing", referring to the possibility of a Zune phone.

A Zune phone has been talked up before - with Microsoft going on the record previously to say that it wasn't something they saw in the device's future.

Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform is considered a strong product so it would not be out of the question that they could make a reasonable go of a zPhone, although obviously getting the hardware right would be crucial.

Rounding off the Zune news is that fact that the player has seen a price cut in the States, ahead of today's iPod launch, presumably to entice buyers to go Zune before the onslaught of new Apple products.

Their 30GB version has had a $50 price cut bringing the price down to just $199, which would be around the hundred pound mark in real money.

It's highly likely to be because of the new iPods, that, or they want to clear down stock before the launch of the two new Zune models, code-named Draco and Scorpio, rumoured to be coming soon...