On the brink of an Apple event taking place later today, with new iPods expected to come out, Microsoft has announced it is slashing the price of its less popular Zune 30GB wireless portable media player by $50 bringing the price down to just $199 in the US. The company said the price cut was something it had been planning to do for months, and was part of the normal product cycle.

While Zune is still trailing way behind the iPod, Microsoft argues that the player is doing well, saleswise, for "a product out in less than a year and a half," and claims Apple's portable player is the motivational competitor that forces the Zune team to evolve. Back in June, the company confirmed it would be releasing a second-generation Zune model in the US in time for the holiday season, although very little is yet know about the new model's capabilities.