RoughlyDrafted Archives: November 2006
November 1st, 2006
Daniel Eran Dilger
Index page for articles from November 2006.
November 2006 (newer articles on top):
I’ve written several articles about Microsoft’s new Zune MP3 player. A number of readers have asked me to do a direct comparison with the iPod. Here it is! Microsoft’s Zune and the 30 GB iPod both have the same capacity and price tag. Even the cost of accessories are all identical. So here, I’ll go beyond the specs and present a number of real world factors that define which player is a better buy.
Throughout the early 90s, Apple lacked a clear direction for delivering new technology. The company was certainly not out of ideas; it just wasn’t focused on turning them into new, marketable products. Apple was rich, and it was making significant revenues from high margin sales of its Macintosh computers, the only affordable, mainstream graphic workstations available. In 1990, Apple was positioned on top of the world, with 9% of the market for personal computers, a clear lock on many of the most profitable market segments, and increasing sales and market share.
While Apple appeared to do everything wrong throughout the early 90s, Microsoft appeared to do everything right. On the surface, it looked like Microsoft was starting out with clean design that allowed it to offer features Apple was still struggling to deliver, including memory protection and preemptive multitasking.
Apple pitched three foul balls with Pink, Taligent, and Copland, only to then turn around and embrace a future it had worked so hard to compete against. The rest of the tech industry, scarred from the tumultuous Unix Wars, snubbed a perfect opportunity to benefit from millions of dollars worth of free and open technology, and instead spent a decade locked in the proprietary chains of isolationist development. Here’s how it happened.
In the early 90s, Apple’s Mac platform faced a meltdown as its Mac System Software aged and began to demand a clean slate redesign or massive overhaul. Microsoft found problems of its own in building both a Mac like environment for the DOS PC, and in delivering Windows NT as an entirely new operating system.
The previous article outlined how Sony’s PlayStation 2 maintained a distant lead in the last generation of game consoles. What’s different this time around? There are four primary factors that will determine the winner in the new generation of consoles. Here’s a look at the obvious differentiators between Sony’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintento’s Wii, and how each company plays out a unique strategy in the bid to sell the most consoles.
The Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii both jumped into the game console ring this weekend to compete against Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Who is going to win? Everyone’s watching to see how this battle plays out, because each company is pursuing a very different strategy. Sony and Microsoft are gunning for pure performance systems, while Nintendo is shooting at fun, playable games that rely more on its unique controllers than impressive graphics hardware. The consoles’ prices follow the features and product strategy of each company.
Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista follow different strategies in their prerelease marketing, product positioning, and market positioning, and integration. Here’s how both differ in development issues. The Difference of Development. One of the Notable Lessons presented in The Rise and Fall of Platforms is that the ideal way to develop popular software products is to ship early and often, making regular and progressive updates.
Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista follow different strategies in their prerelease marketing, product positioning, and market positioning. Here’s a look at how both differ in product integration. PCs Without Windows. Of course, it is technically possible to build a PC without having to buy a copy of Windows, but that doesn’t help users planning to actually run any mainstream applications, from PC games to Microsoft Office or Apple’s iTunes.
It’s tricky to directly compare Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista, because the two products will be sold to very different markets in different ways. Here’s a look at how both differ in strategic market positioning. A RISK Strategy. PC enthusiasts like to scoff at the market share of Macs in comparison to worldwide computer sales. They view the worldwide PC market like a simple board game of Risk, where market leaders Dell and HP have more armies scattered over more territories, and Apple only has armies placed in a few.
It’s tricky to directly compare Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista, because the two products will be sold to very different markets in different ways. Here’s a look at how both differ as products in the marketplace. The Indirect Choice. Apple is strongest where Microsoft is weakest, and vice versa. Despite the intense interest in pitting Apple against Microsoft, Leopard and Vista simply aren’t direct competitors.
It’s tricky to directly compare Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista, because the two products will be sold to very different markets in different ways. Here’s a look at how both differ in their prerelease marketing. The biggest hurdle in directly comparing Mac OS X Leopard against Windows Vista is that Apple and Microsoft have very different marketing strategies, particularly when it comes to prerelease software. Why is Apple so Secretive? described this in greater detail.
The Danger of DRM described the world before DRM and the complications that killed a decade of digital products prior to the iPod. It also introduced the new god Microsoft hoped would take over the digital universe: Janus. The Watchful Eyes of Janus. Microsoft worked with media producers to design a comprehensive technology framework and DRM system named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings and the namesake of January, who was portrayed with two faces that looked both into the past and into the future.
The market for digital music was repressed for nearly a decade prior to the arrival of Apple’s iPod. Here’s why digital music languished for so long, how Apple was able to build a digital business, and why rivals are struggling to turn back the clock and return digital downloads into a legal black hole of onerous restrictions.
With so much failure already under its belt in the consumer electronics arena, Microsoft certainly hopes its new iPod Killer will make a strong showing this holiday season. Still, analysts aren’t afraid to articulate exactly why they think the Zune will fail. The Microsoft iPod-Killer Myth already outlined why Microsoft’s overall online media strategy has tanked so far, but the Zune faces three additional strikes this winter that will prevent it from making any headway in its goal to unseat the iPod.
A recent Digg blog campaign sought to credit Microsoft with an early lead in using its Xbox 360 against Apple’s iTunes, iPod, and the forthcoming iTV in rival efforts to sell movies online–or in Microsoft’s case, to sell exploding media rentals. However, the story failed to mention that Microsoft has only sold 6 million XBox 360s in the last year, and most these require a hard drive upgrade in order to download movies. Digg users fell for the story and it was widely propagated through the blogosphere as a news item. Is it possible that anonymous blogs, popping out of nowhere without any history, might lack credibility and have ulterior motives?
As the 90’s closed, Apple began unlocking the same direct sales efficiencies Dell had pioneered in the 90’s. Direct sales to consumers using the web allowed Apple to defend itself from lost Mac sales through retailers who were increasingly disinterested in selling Apple’s products. As noted in Apple’s Retail Challenge, many computer retailers were seeking to sell their own store brand PCs in order to earn both retail and manufacturing profits. Without direct control over its own retail sales, Apple simply couldn’t compete with instant eWaste PCs.
By the early 90s, Apple’s problem in selling its technology was already obvious. Computer sales were moving mainstream, out of specialized computer stores and into general retail. Stores such as ComputerLand, which had sold a large segment of PCs during the 80’s, were falling out of fashion and being eaten up by big box retailers who offered a larger selection. They also offered lower prices, and along with that, little assistance for consumers.