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Zune vs iPod: what next for the iPod, and what the hell can Microsoft’s Zune do about it? Part 1

an image of the Microsoft Zune and Apple iPod portable music playersI look at the Microsoft Zune player and I see ‘me too’ written all over it. No, I’ve not used one. And guess what? I have no intention of using one, either. From the looks of things, I’m not alone on this point, either.

What with one of the colour options being brown, the Zune is at best a sleeper product. No, not one that grows over time, the Zune is something that looks as boring as hell.

While not the most impartial of commentaries, the observations of Steve Jobs (yes, that guy that runs that other company that produces that other portable music player) hits the nail squarely on the head:

“I’ve seen demonstrations of how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your ear-buds out and put it in her ear.”

Cynicism and side-swipes aside, Steve Jobs has demonstrated his thinking by way of exemplifying how the kid on the street would do things, or as they would prefer to do things.

Sometimes, the latest technology just gets in the way of stuff. Blame the marketing people for that, not the technology.

OK, so trotting out some to-be-expected, less than glowing appraisal of Microsoft’s Zune portable music player by arch-rival Steve Jobs isn’t exactly impartial commentary, but Engadget usually does the trick:

“The Zune is a player riddled with a lot of small issues — death by a thousand cuts. Do we think any particular one is a deal breaker? Well, even given our nightmarish software issues, not really. Do we think they should have worked out the kinks and sat out this holiday season? Probably, yeah. Do we think there’s potential for betterment of the platform and especially the player through software updates? Given enough time, absolutely. Would we recommend the product for purchase, like, right now? Not a chance.

People wonder whether Microsoft’s underdog will overtake Cupertino’s reigning juggernaut this holiday season. To be honest, we wish it could, since we too are getting kind of sick of seeing the iPod on top. A one man show is only entertaining for so long. But this buying season if the question is iPod, we’re afraid the answer sure isn’t Zune.

Ouch! That had to hurt. And given that we’re marching inexorably closer to the key buying season of the year, Microsoft may well be smarting in the worst part of the anatomy of any business — the bank account.

Right now, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple can rest easy, things are quite peachy:

“During a question-and-answer session with analysts, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed that the iTunes Store is ‘running at above-break-even levels. We are very happy with the performance of the iTunes store, with everything that it’s selling, and we think it’s a big reason why people are buying iPods and accessories, and certainly think it’s helping us in the Mac business.’”

If this was Microsoft, there’d be some kind of outrage and people would be filling their ‘blogs with angry verbiage left, right and centre.

But this isn’t Microsoft, it’s Apple, and with Apple you get less noise and more signal.

Business is brisk, people seem to really like Apple’s iPods, iTunes is “not bad, but could be better” and if my thinking is correct, Microsoft and their Zune player could well be competing with their other media devices rather than competing with anything Apple has now or anything they’re rumored to have in the pipeline.

Oh, so you disagree, eh? Right, well you’ll just have to wait until my next article to read what I think…

Part 1, 2, 3

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

7 replies on “Zune vs iPod: what next for the iPod, and what the hell can Microsoft’s Zune do about it? Part 1”

I’ve said this before… the iPod is by far the slickest, most gorgeous MP3 player out there… is it the best? I don’t think so… they haven’t invented it thoroughly yet… in terms of usability, it still has a lot of work to do and in terms of practicality, there are others far superior and easier to use. Bottom line, I still do love my iPod (60GB, had to be black) because there’s an emotional element involved. So, the Zune? I think Apple can chill, for now… But the market is bound to come up with something that will top and surpass our beloved iPod. Maybe it’ll be Apple who will design the iPod successor.

Hi!

“[The iPod] still has a lot of work to do in terms of practicality,…”

Specifically?

“… There are others far superior and easier to use.”

Do you have any examples in mind?

I, too, love my iPod and look at MS’s attempt to topple it as “inevitable and uninteresting”. I don’t hate MS as such it’s just that they seem to always get it wrong and I can’t be bothered to care about them or their hardware or software any more.

But, I did quite like the idea of brown …

“I can’t be bothered to care about them or their hardware or software any more.”

Well at least you cared enough to read this, so that’s good enough for me!

“But, I did quite like the idea of brown …”

Now that’s just bizarre… 😉

I think that the only chance the Zune has is if they significantly undercut the Ipod in price. But their trying to go head-up. This is proving to be a stupid mistake.

Hi and thanks for posting!

Yes, agreed. But it still doesn’t alter the fact that Microsoft have a rubbish product on their hands.

And from a business point of view, when do Microsoft stop subsidising their products and have them pay their own way?

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