Microsoft still thinks 'Pink' in its Zune ad hunt

With a handful of Zune HD leaks now out in public, and a semi-solid release schedule for Windows Mobile 6.5, we're now beginning to hear some development in the "Pink" category.

"Pink" is Microsoft's code name for a mobile product with very little in the way of concrete information behind it. What is known is that it will likely be coming from Danger, makers of the OS found in the T-Mobile Sidekick which Microsoft acquired in February of last year. Before CES this year, CNBC's Jim Goldman said "Pink" was going to be a device that would "provide true competition to the iPhone."

This week, Microsoft has reportedly offered a jump-ball assignment to its advertising agencies related to "Pink," with a May completion date.

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This news is noteworthy on two counts. First, Microsoft did not offer the advertising deal directly to its main supplier, McCann Erickson, nor to Crispin Porter + Bogusky -- responsible for the now-infamous Seinfeld ad and the current "Laptop Hunters" campaign featuring red-head "Lauren." Instead, the company wants agencies to compete for the job.

Secondly, Microsoft appears to indicate that this advertising deal will not pertain to a device, but rather to an application or service. Whatever it turns out to be, the beginning of a "Pink"-themed ad campaign in May will coincide both with the development of Windows Mobile 6.5 and of the Zune.

Could we be looking at a Zune-themed Sidekick on T-Mobile? The youth-oriented device could be a way to get a foothold in the teen market for MP3 players, which was recently shown to be thoroughly dominated by Apple's iPod in Piper Jaffray's semiannual survey.

Or perhaps Pink will be a mobile Zune app that brings the Zune media player and marketplace to the mobile space?

A cross-platform Zune app does seem pretty bonkers in theory, but Microsoft already made the biggest jump late last year when Live Labs released Seadragon Mobile for iPhone, an app that links with Photosynth, a Live Labs project in photogrammetry.

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