A leak from within Best Buy tonight has potentially confirmed planned pricing and a ship date for the Zune HD. Microsoft's rumored pricing of $250 or more appears to have been lowered significantly and now, according to a Gizmodo tip, would start at $220 for a 16GB model -- $10 less than an entry iPod touch, which may have the same capacity at or near the Zune's launch. A 32GB version would be priced at $290, or again slightly less than what the next-closest iPod is likely to cost.
The same source also shows a September 8th release date for both models and supports at least one past rumor. Such a release date is both a Tuesday common to many electronics launches and is similarly timed for the September window that Apple usually chooses for its yearly music events.
Moving the price and the ship date alike could both be crucial to reviving the ailing Zune brand. Sales started dropping rapidly almost a year ago after the company only introduced a minor capacity and software revision to the media player line and had yet to introduce a touchscreen player even a year after Apple first rolled out the iPod touch. At $220, the Zune HD could be less expensive than its rival iPod while still having unique features like an OLED display and 720p video support. Simultaneously, a September release would avoid the tardy launch dates for the first two Zune generations, which weren't ready until November and consequently let Apple garner most of the pre-Thanksgiving holiday sales.
Microsoft has yet to make any of its final launch information official.