It looks like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is finally showing Apple's iPhone a little respect. After initially tearing into Apple's device when it was first announced, Ballmer has now conceded that the iPhone and BlackBerry have a pretty firm grasp on the smartphone. Along with that, Ballmer also said that we shouldn't hold our breath for a Zune Phone.
Instead, Ballmer hinted that Zune-like features might make their way into many other Windows Mobile devices. Finally, Ballmer stated that he believed the market for portable media devices was fading out, soon to be replaced by multi-purpose devices.
Microsoft's approach to Zune features on a smartphone reminds me of Apple with the Motorola ROKR E1, a phone that packed iTunes synch in as a feature. We'll see if this strategy works for Microsoft or, if like Apple, they decide they're better off releasing the hardware on their own.