If any Microsoft product group is a candidate for getting the chop during the next 18 months, surely - surely - it's the one leading the disastrous Zune. Either the technology people building it, those in marketing promoting it, or the channel group responsible for working with retailers to put the thing in the hands of …
The Sony Walkman was the iPod of its day - which wasn't THAT long ago - but eventually the mystique wore off and people realised they could buy the same functionality and sound quality elsewhere and the Walkman became a museum piece. The same thing will happen to the iPod, and then the Zune will be playing in a level field. Where it will still fail because of the DRM, but that's another story.
At the moment, the iPod is just a brand with no compelling reason to buy it unless you're into the brand, which a lot of people are for now.
I could have sworn I posted a comment... :-(
(Quoting the $100 drop in revenue)
I'll get over it eventually.
It's not available anywhere outside US, so how can MS hope to sell any?
I do own an ipod and a sony (sony has a better sound imho). I played around with a Zune, and think it's a rather nice device. If it was able to work without the Zune software and able to function as a storage device too I'd have gone for it in a heartbeat (grey import and all), retiring the ipod.
Apart from its ergonomic keyboards, I have no particular preference or dislike for Microsoft products. One brand is as good as any other, it's the products that count.
The Zune 1 was tangibly worse than the competition
30gb might not be enough for some people's entire music libraries, but it is enough for several days of audio. Good luck trying to navigate that with the original Zune's discrete button controls, and try not to feel too ripped off that they're designed specifically to look like a click wheel, in an attempt to pull the wool over your eyes.
After that, it's the second generation Zune versus the iPod Touch. I think the various comments above mine are correct - the only people who would be likely to be swayed by Microsoft as a brand are significantly more likely to be swayed by Apple. People who feature hunt are no more likely to pick Microsoft than e.g. Sansa. In fact, they're probably more likely to pick Sansa because of the extremely negative press that Microsoft have bought themselves among the technically knowledgable with Internet Explorer, five separate editions of Vista, XPS, the killing of ISO, etc.
Since the Zune launched, the world (including even Apple) has ditched DRM for music. Surely there's now no way Microsoft can achieve what they want? The best they can hope for is a small chunk of a commodity market. They should either ditch the Zune or chuck it out to whatever departments makes the keyboards and the mice. And kill its requirement for it's own special synchronisation software and marketplace. Apple can get away with that because of their marketshare, Microsoft can't given that they also supply the synchronisation software that everyone else uses with their OS, that nearly everybody uses.
That all said, from a brand positioning point of view it might make sense for the shareholders to keep the XBox. If they kill that then will Microsoft have any meaningful quantity of fans? The whole world sitting every day through Windows, Office and Outlook simply because of a lack of alternatives isn't going to last forever and Microsoft are going to need to appear something other than stodgy and belligerent.
All the hate...
...seems to come directly from folks that havent seen one let alone used one.
Some basic points -
1. The sound quality is superb. Head to Head-Fi, most folks agree its one of the very best.
2. The UI is actually far quicker and easier to use.
3. The software is pretty damn good and (bizarrly) for a MS product isnt bloated like its rival.
4. The leap year bug was the fault of the Freescale chip, not any coding on MS part.
5. Sales will drop if your market is not world wide.
6. If you dont market it, sales will drop.
7. Zune gets regular free updates that include actual features that Zune users ask for!
8. The Zune Store is a far better model than the Apple Store.
9. The hardware is more robust and doesnt pull scratches out of the air.
10. If MS makes crap hardware, what are all those Mice/webcams and Kboards doing?
11. I havent seen ANY DRM on my Zune ever. My Gf has been infuriated many times by the DRM on her Shuffle.
12. I dont think MS ever regarded the Zune as a takeover product for the iPod. I like the competition, its good.
13. Due to the regular updates being for ALL models I dont feel obliged to buy a new one every new release.
14. After having a iPod, Zen, Archos 404, I've finally found the player that works for me.
The main problem for the Zune is the marketing folks. The hardware, software etc. is all there and its got good really quick. I just dont understand the marketing, or lack of.
Well well.. when you don't have a monopoly in a segment, things are a little different, eh? You can't just poop out something mediocre and expect it to fly off the shelves because most people don't know they have a choice.
It's not just the iPod, there are lots of viable competitors to the brown monstrosity. It's a perfectly competent player, though ugly and boring- but a lot of people got burned by Microsoft-based media players before. "Plays for sure", nuff said. The fact that people are demanding DRM-free files pretty much kills any future MS monopoly play based on device lock-in in the portable music player sector anyway.
The fact that only Americans has them, and don't understand why the rest of the world finds them hilarious when they encounter one is another sign that Microsoft's marketing failed, too, of course.
It's hard to imagine a less "cool" bit of kit, or a less exciting one. Ironic, as there are far worse Microsoft products.
@ Robert Long
The reasons why the Walkman died aren't really relevant to the iPod. The WM was a good brand in its day, but cassettes were on their way out. So they came up with the Mini Disc, but nobody was interested.
The only way the iPod will run into problems is if digital music becomes obsolete. I can't see that happening any time soon, and the iPod is in a far better position to evolve than Sony ever was.
I'm not sure about "the iPod is just a brand with no compelling reason to buy". Come on - the iPod Touch is THE best music player on the market. No question.
Don't turn your nose up at branding - branding is everything in this market, but when it's coupled with good products it's unstoppable. People may complain about the price and following the crowd, but the iPod lineup is made up of very very good products.
a curse on all their houses
I got myself a Creative Zen because I am genetically programmed not to lock-step with the crowd. Because I want to listen to classical music, I didn't fancy how iPods worked. Creative Zen needs to be wrestled into the ground not to mess up the order of, say, concerto movements, but at least Zen doesn't flog me a store, nor lock me into anything. It's small, it works OK, and with my own headphones, a pleasant addition to long-distance flights.
Now if I could find an MP3 player that understood something other than pop albums and singles, I would beat path to door.
Zune unique advantage over iPod
I own a 120GB zune and am very happy with its integration into the zune pc software. The zune marketplace has 80% of its songs as mp3s. Also for $15 a month you can download and listen to any song in its marketplace (rental) and also purchase 10 songs each month for free. This gives the zune a unique advantage to the ipod. Unfortunately MS is not advertising ths aspect of the zune. As others have said, it is only available for now in the US
Yes, you and about 30 other helpful souls with varying degrees of smugness pointed that one out. I fixed the typo, nixed the comments, and tried to think more of cute puppies being cute than stabby knives being stabby. What do you want, a Krispy Kreme?
Zune missing the mark
Why would anyone buy a portable media player with a deliberately-crippled WiFi interface and saddled with DRM that isn't even compatible with Microsoft's own past DRM (or probably its future DRM)?
Re: All the Hate
Agree completely with Jason's comments. My son has an 80GB current gen Zune and loves it dearly. He escaped the firmware brick issue of a week or two ago and has had zero other problems with it. The sound quality is superb, the stock earbuds that come with it are more than decent, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Price was the ONLY reason I didn't get a Zune for myself. If, as several have suggested, MS would just lower the price it would be seriously competitive.
As for myself, I prefer the flash-based models because I don't carry around my entire library at any given time. Therefore, the one other thing I'd like to see on (the flash-based model) Zunes is an expansion slot like that on most of the Sandisks. Rather than buy a new unit, I just added an 8GB microSD to my Sansa View and doubled its capacity for about US$25. For that reason alone, I remain loyal to the Sandisks.
Sure Sara, you deleted the 30 odd messages that refered to the article's typo.
But some (at least mine) were a whole lot of relevant subject commentary with one sentance devoted to chiding the typo. So either my observations about the lack of a Zune-ecosystem for products and the lack of MS's integration of Zune with their mobile phone OS were terribly off-topic and irrelevant, or you just deleted any posts that had even a single line of criticism about the type.
Well, bloody repost it then and stop whining. And spell my name right, or I'll smite you good.
Microsoft learned much from IBM in their infancy. Microsoft will continue to sell Zune at a loss if necessary to erode Apple's iPod revenue. Anything not Microsoft-branded is a threat to Redmond.
a sad scenario
if MS axes the Zune division, I will be tremendously disappointed. Show me any music service that even comes close to Zune Pass, and I might reconsider my stance. The fact is, the Zune is a worthy competitor vs. other music players in its category (such as iPod classic) by itself. But with the addition of Zune Pass, there's simply no competition. Unfortunately for Microsoft, people are slow to adopt the subscription model, partly because no one knows how good it is.
Music players are old news
Any mobile phone released in the last year or 2 will have a decent music player inside.
Why carry two devices, when one will do both roles?
The single function MP3 player is dead. It got absorbed into the phone handset.
The big giveaway...
...was the colour. A supposedly 'hot' piece of iPod-killing consumer electronics in... brown??? Why FFS!!
I had a zune, it was crap.
It sounded crap (better than a Ipod thou), it looked clunky, and the menus were sluggish and bland. I sold it and bought a Sony NWZ-A729 16GB, and I couldn't be more pleased, It wins on every front, it sounds fantastic, it looks great, the UI is responsive, and there is no DRM in sight (MP3, Unprotected AAC and WMA, and music can be loaded via Explorer, WMP or MediaMoney), it even works in Linux... If only Sony did a 32GB model, then it would be perfect.
Zune: why do you hate it?
I have an imported Zune (I'm form the UK), and have used both the Zune and iPod side by side. Honestly I can't see why so many uninformed people are slagging it off?!
Compared to the iPod it has better sound quality, clearer screen, more intuitive controls (why go clock-wise for down!?!?!?!?!), the software is easier to use than iTunes, It doesnt bug you with DRM crazed sync issues, It supports more formats (excluding own-brand formats).
Sure, the first gen (30GB) version had issues. But then who hasnt heard of iPods breaking down. My ex-girlfriends iPod locked up and had to be sent off for a solid month to be fixed. Most my 80GB Zune had was a firmware glitch, fixed by reset and automatic update. 5min vs. 4weeks.... you do the maths!
The reason iPod outsell all other brands is because of the branding! People dont go out to buy an MP3 player, they want an iPod! Why? Because they fixate on the brand that shouts the loudest, not the most appropriate player for their needs.
What about iRiver? Very good player died due to ignorant public.
People need to look at what technology is available and pick sensibly, not just wander zombie-like towards the bright lights of Apples minimalist shops
Good and bad
The on-screen Interface to the Zune is beautiful and much, much better than the original iPod's. BUT the case is big and chunky and you can't get past the first impression it is an inferior iPod clone.
But the real killer was the iPhone / iPod Touch transformed the market; with nothing similar, Zune just looked old fashioned.
I do like the twin-shot moulding process that gives the case two colours. Shame it wasn't utilised by a company with any taste. I mean - brown???
Ignorant people? Hmm, people who diss the iPod and scream how things like iRivers or Zunes have splendid sound quality generally have cloth ears, and aren't the sort who had to take their iRiver back to the shop, after racking the damn thing up on the bench and pumping the obligatory sines through it to calculate the SNR.
Being able to hear in decent headphones when you switch the player on, even while walking along a busy road=Fail. Being able to take it back to the shop, invoke the sale of goods act, and then provide documents detailing the SNR of the equipment, comparing it unfavourably to a cheap FM radio, occasioning an instant refund... priceless.
The iPod stacks up a lot better, actually.
Please, a better iPod, please
Somebody, anybody, please build a better iPod. Apple need the competition.
- A 240Gb version
- Built in radio
- No DRM, no ties to iTunes
- User replaceable batteries
- Ogg support
- USB Host support
and so on. And just sell it as a bit of USB connected consumer hardware, not as the centre of some notional music-video ecosystem.
But it's clearly not going to be Microsoft.
"This reminds me of the Coke - Pepsi cola war during the 1930's. Zune is perceived as being the poor man's iPod as Pespsi was the poor man's cola."
Hey, I love pepsi! Tastes so much nicer than cock, er. coke. :D
Kill the XBox instead.
I'd rather have MS kill the XBox, its reputation is bad and the only reason they're still selling is because they've slashed the prices... which also means they're *losing* money on the turd. I'd rather have SEGA or even Atari reviving consoles than MS bringing out another console.
However, the Zune... well... meh. My old SE W300 was enough for me, as well as my current Blackberry 8300. I don't need a shiny mp3 player so I can get mugged. But still, I do like the idea of MS *attempting* to beat Apple on the mp3 player biz.
Mine's the one with the DualShock 3...
Zune fulfils a need
Zune fulfils a need from Microsoft's point of view. They need a pit into which to dump money in order to place themselves in a lower tax bracket. Plausible Deniability for the fact that they are making money.
What I can't understand is why there was never a market glut of cheap cassette players styled to look something a bit like a scaled-up iPod .....
It's not the recession; it's the product.
Apple's iPhone and every iteratioin of their iPod flew of the shelves during the holiday shopping season.
I understand that many Zune owners like what they own. This doesn't mean that the Zune is better or worse than the iPod/iPhone. It also doesn't mean the the iPhone/iPod is better or worse than the Zune.
What this DOES mean is that many milions more people were willing pay for the iPhone/iPod as compared to any other -- and usually cheaper -- product on the market during what in my opinion is an economic depression.
You can fight words. You can fight the government. But you can't fight facts...unless, of course, you're mentally disturbed.
That's because it's not officially sold over here. I got mine for £99 a long time ago.
Even now I can't replace it with an iPod of similar spec without spending double the money.
They really need to sort the software out though. Stop tying it down to a PC with so many system files so a portable version could be used. Sort out the syncing issues (which it keeps saying it has fixed..)
Most of all sort out the stupid ID3 tag problems, fussiest app I have ever used EVER. Got a compilition album? Oh that must be 40 seperate albums then..
Ha ha... pwned by the Bee with a sting in it's (presumably cute) tail...
The Zune Can Be Saved If They...
The Zune can be saved if MS does the following:
1) Upgrade the video codec to include DivX - then I could play my recorded TV shows on it without the lengthy conversion
2) Allow it to be managed with Windows Explorer, like my other MP3 players can
3) Allow it to be used as a USB hard disk
4) Scrap the Zune Social
5) Parner with Amazon as a source of content
6) Make it work with iTunes!!!
I actually like my Zune better than my iPod - but I'm a geek :-)
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