In what must be one of the biggest ho hum non-events of the year, Microsoft introduced their iPod killer yesterday.
Seriously. It’s called Zune. Didn’t you hear about it? It was in all the papers and on the news, right?
No, it wasn’t. I’m sorry. That was news about Apple’s new line of iPods, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle.
Interestingly, Microsoft did announce their iPod killer and, in true Redmondian fashion, it’s loaded with features.
But, in truer Microsoft customer fashion, we might ask, “Will it work?
Also in true Microsoft fashion, the new Zune carries a lot of baggage and a few tricks, and it’s not shipping.
The baggage is Microsoft’s desire to one up Apple’s designs without being able to do so despite years of trying.
The tricks? Well, one trick is to make the Zune look like an iPod, complete with a round click wheel.
Just as Microsoft lied, cheated, and committed illegal acts again and again, to customers and the US government. So does Zune.
It’s not a click wheel. It’s just round like the iPod click wheel. Looks like Microsoft didn’t want another lawsuit.
One thing nifty about the Zune is the size of the screen. Apparently size matters at Microsoft. The screen is bigger than an iPod’s screen.
What you get with Zune is a 30 gigabyte music, photo, and video player, which Microsoft calls “the next big milestone for its Connected Entertainment vision.”
Uh, doesn’t that sound just like Steve Jobs’ “digital hub” vision of what? Five or six years ago?
The Zune will hold music, photos, and videos. The wireless model will let users share photos and music with other listeners nearby.
That means you can listen to songs from friends, flag the song as one you’d like to buy, then buy it later.
There’s also the ubiquitous built-in FM radio, so ubiquitous that about 80-percent of the portable musics players don’t have it.
Yeah, iPod. I’m talking about you.
Taking a cue from Apple’s announced but not shipping iTV wireless set top box, and keeping true Microsoft fashion, Zune is merely announced.
You can’t buy one yet because no one is selling them and there’s no price anyway. Maybe they’ll give them away to Windows Vista buyers.
The whole Zune experience is to create connection and community. Connect Zune to all your digital stuff, and share with others.
Not content with the whole Microsoft Plays for Sure program and their original online music store, the Windows maker will have another store.
Yep, Zune is soooo cool that it’ll get it’s own store, affectionately called the Zune Marketplace. You know, it’s the digital media equivalent of the Food Court at the mall.
Wireless Zune to Zune sharing is available so you can show off your digital spokes to someone else’s digital hub carrying device. Their Zune.
Microsoft promises a flat fee Zune Pass subscription service which will let you download and play as many songs as you can fit on a 30 gigabyte hard drive.
Interestingly, the press release says that Zune will come pre-loaded with music from major labels.
Well, that assumes that Play louder recordings, and Sub Pop Records are major labels.
Apple’s Steve Jobs was not hesitant to point out that the iPod ecosystem has created over 3,000 accessories.
Microsoft knows how to copy ecosystem parts, too, so the Zune will be available with many, many, many, uh, um… accessories.
There’s the Zune Car Pack, and the Zune Travel Pack, and, um, something else. Parts is parts.
Microsoft says they’re working with other accessory manufacturers, too. You know, to help build their own Zune ecosystem.
After all, it’s all about choice, and Microsoft wants choice for their customers, right?
Says who? Microsoft corporate vice-president, J Allard in an Engadget interview.
When asked where “Zune is going to fit in with people’s pre-existing media libraries?”, Allard answered this way:
Obviously. Music from the iTunes Music Store? That’s over 1.5-billion songs. Nope. No can do.
Since Zune isn’t compatible with Microsoft’s current PlaysForSure partners like Creative and others, how are they affected?
Ok, that makes sense. If I’m Creative Technologies or SanDisk and invested in PlaysForSure, and Microsoft is getting Toshiba to build a player to compete against me, then I’m screwed.
Welcome to doing business with Microsoft. Caveat emptor.
The Zune is planned to be ready for the holiday shopping season. Apple has a whole new line of iPods. Head to head, toe to toe.
Who’s going to have the best holiday selling season? Apple or Microsoft?