Zune Rising

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Well, I guess we all knew it was coming. It wasn’t like Microsoft was trying to keep it a secret. Zune’s been announced, and it’s hitting store shelves November 14. So I guess this means that Microsoft’s throwing the gloves off. It seems that they haven’t been having that much success with PlaysForSure (I know, the understatement of the decade), and it’s not like Napster, Wal-Mart, URGE, Real etc… has been raking in the sales. I guess Microsoft would say “It’s so hard to find good help these days.”. Well, I guess Napster, Wal-Mart, URGE and Real would say the same thing. 😉

So, I guess I should get to the actual meat of this post:

My thoughts:

  • The brown doesn’t actually look all that bad. It just gets ragged on since people haven’t made brown consumer electronics since the 90’s (and I guess that it reminds people of poo also factors into people’s apprehensions).
  • Microsoft takes the cake in getting a design that looks closest to the iPod (yes, even over Creative). Of course, it’s just different enough that they can say “Well, it has two buttons beside the scroll wheel and it has a larger screen. And it’s brown.”. It’s unfortunate that the only other company in this space with original designs had to go down the tubes.
  • I guess it’s nice that the screen is larger than the 5.5G iPods. But then, it’s not so nice that the screen currently has the same resolution as them.
  • With the Zune, you can share a song with another Zune in close proximity (I don’t actually know the range). But, and a big but here, shared music can only be played up to 3 times or within 3 days. If you pass either of those limits, then the song is locked and can’t be played. Zune apparently doesn’t do this by way of DRM, but just through the built-in firmware knowing which songs are the ones you received from other Zunes.
  • Is Microsoft schizophrenic? I ask this because none of the content from the Microsoft-based stores, using Microsoft technology are going to work on Microsoft‘s Zune. Instead, they want you to buy all of your digital media from the Zune Marketplace (which will initially have significantly less content than iTunes and will force you to use Marketplace Points instead of just standard money to buy content). Does this make any sense? What’s even funnier is that they’re still going to develop PlaysForSure:

    Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two entirely separate division that will not have any crossover.

    Seriously. Does Microsoft think that confusing their customers with competing standards from the same company are going to help them win over minds? Because, I think we all know what will happen: When in doubt, go for the biggest one. And in this case, the biggest one is Apple.

Well, those are my thoughts. I expect this thing to tank, but then again, Microsoft isn’t positioning this as some sort of marketshare takeback initiative that will finish this year:

‘We had to look at what was in the market and offer a competitive price,’ said Scott Erickson, Microsoft’s senior director of product marketing for Zune. ‘We’re not going to be profitable this holiday but the Zune project is a multiyear strategy.’

Hmm, I guess it could turn into an Xbox, but I think I’ll stick with a Wii.


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

October 18, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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