Daniel Eran Dilger
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Why Microsoft’s Zune is Still Failing

Zune Software Crash
Daniel Eran Dilger
Last winter, I detailed why Microsoft’s iPod Killer would fail miserably. This year, Microsoft will fail again, but for a new set of reasons. It is not obvious that the company has figured this out itself. Here’s why the Zune will fail in 2007, and how Microsoft is painting a fraudulent portrait of interest that doesn’t exist.


Why Microsoft Failed Last Year.
Back in July of 2006, I outlined a variety of problems Microsoft faced in its then secret plans to rival Apple’s iPod directly.

The wrong business strategy: As it had with its two generations of Xbox game consoles, Microsoft appeared poised to deliver loss leader hardware and rely on content sales, licensing, and rentals. I predicted that strategy simply couldn’t compete with Apple’s selling desirable hardware at a profit and making minimal profits on content. Sure enough.

The wrong product: Microsoft was rumored to deliver a product that, true to its roots, ignored usability and instead tacked on impractical features such as wireless sharing. “Microsoft lacks any idea of how to create hardware that the general public might seriously find useful. Any remaining doubts can be answered in one word: Origami.”

The wrong service: despite the repeated failure of subscription-based rental music services between 2000 and 2006, Microsoft centered its strategies around music rentals. It should have learned something from Rhapsody, Duet, Pressplay, the “new Napster,” and other PlaysForSure failures it had been intimately involved with over the previous half decade. It did not, and still centers its strategies around exploding media DRM.

Rise of the iTunes Killers Myth

Three Strikes for the Zune: Winter 2006.
After Microsoft released its Zune strategy, more specific reasons it would fail became obvious. Last November, I presented three.

Cheap Gifts: I outlined how Apple had successfully pushed low cost iPods every winter. Rather than copying that success, Microsoft aimed at the high end of the market with the 30 GB Zune, priced the same as Apple’s 30 GB iPod. Microsoft actually had to reduce its initial $300 price target to $250 just to compete with the iPod.

However, last year Apple was primarily pushing its new Nano lineup and new iPod Shuffles. It had only slightly improved the previous year’s 5th generation iPod, so the Zune was competing with a 5.5G iPod model Apple had placed in maintenance mode.

Apple subsequently blew out sales of 21 million iPods, not by trying to beat Microsoft’s Zune in a duel of hard drive players, but by selling a gift friendly product the market wanted. Microsoft couldn’t sell enough Zunes to matter.

Glutted Market: strike two was the fact that Microsoft unceremoniously yanked the rug from its PlaysForSure partners just weeks before throwing the Zune into the market. That left its jilted partners unloading their now obsolete hardware at fire sale prices.

The Zune wasn’t competing against the iPod, it was fighting to stand out as a boxy USSR-looking device amid a small sea of identically ineffectual iPod Killers from Creative and other Windows Media partners.

Microsoft promised PlaysForSure partners that the Zune would only compete against the iPod, but it really only ate into PlaysForSure sales. Even worse, Microsoft artificially made the Zune incompatible with other players, fractioning any installed base that could have developed rather than just stealing the PlaysForSure market for itself.

The Neutered Network: Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand the engineering art of leaving things out. Instead of making tough choices, the company just loaded in apparent features that did very little. Adding wireless sharing was particularly worthless because the feature was limited to only work for three plays, and wouldn’t work with over half of the music users bought from Microsoft. It also ate up battery life.

Today’s Zunes claim to uniquely provide wireless sync, but they require being plugged in order to do this! That means Microsoft’s wireless sync has as many wires as Apple’s USB sync, it’s just 20 times slower. That’s not an advantage nor a feature. It’s a marketing lie.

Another poor decision was adding a radio. Users don’t pay $250 for a hard drive based music player to listen to the radio. Further, radio reception isn’t very good without an external antenna. The iPod solves both issues by offering a $30 external radio control that doubles as an antenna. Microsoft “bundled this in,” resulting in a radio with poor reception that everyone had to buy, which only complicated its design.

Strike 3: Why Zune will Bomb this Winter

Why Zune will Bomb Again in 2007.
Microsoft doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes in consumer electronics very well. When it does however, it frequently gets the timing wrong. This year, Microsoft appears set to compete against the Apple of 2006. It now offers two flash models, last year’s leftover 30 GB unit, and new 80 GB version.

Wrong Products: The problem is that Apple moved the goalpost dramatically. Apple’s new 3G Nano is ultra thin and small, but delivers the same video resolution as Microsoft’s boxy flash Zunes at the same price. It also plays games.

Microsoft also has no match for the standout iPod Touch, which delivers a luxury product with WiFi store features, web browsing, and YouTube streaming for about the same price as Microsoft’s hard drive based players. Microsoft seems to think it is competing against last Apple’s 2005 iPod refreshed for 2006.

Winter 2007 Buyer’s Guide: Microsoft Zune 8 vs iPod Nano

Unavailability: Microsoft is trying to play up the idea that its new 80 GB Zune has sold out due to popularity. In reality however, few stores even received any of those models. Scarcity is only a good sign if you are making units as fast as you can, as Nintendo is doing with the popular Wii games console.
However, even for Nintendo there is a real risk that product unavailability will drive potential buyers to other products. Apple faced similar problems in the mid 90s, when it simply couldn’t produce enough PowerBooks to meet demand, while it sat on warehouses of Performa models nobody wanted.

For Microsoft, an inability to deliver the new Zune model is similarly only bad news, not something to brag about. That hasn’t stopped the company from widely seeding the story that the Zune 80 can’t be found in stores because is wildly popular, rather than because Microsoft can’t deliver any in volume.

Failed Misinformation Campaign:
Microsoft has been working to seed the idea that the Zune is this year’s Tickle Me Elmo among various media sources in an astroturf campaign similar to its previous efforts.

iPod vs Zune: Microsoft’s Slippery Astroturf

When the Wall Street Journal recently posted a survey asking what gifts readers were planning to buy this winter, despite listing the Zune but not the iPod as options, the results showed that nobody had any interest in the Zune. It registered 0% interest after 123,000 votes.

Wsj.Zune

Microsoft discovered the embarrassment, and the next day there were 16,481 new votes, 14,999 of which happened to be Wall Street Journal readers exclusively excited about the Zune. That’s over 91% of the readers of an article that had fallen out of sight by that time. There aren’t that many people on Earth who have heard of the Zune and read the Wall Street Journal.

200711221634

Microsoft is also trying to spin last years’ Zune as a run away success. The problem is that we know Microsoft stopped manufacturing them. Back in July, the company announced shipping 1.2 million of them to stores by the end of June in order to meet its stated goal, but stores hadn’t actually sold them to consumers.

Just as with its “shipment sales” of the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s retailers now have to sell them again, this time for real. Channel stuffing makes for good press releases, but it doesn’t actually put products in the hands of consumers. It does however allow Microsoft to advertise sales twice: first as shipment sales reported in its financial statements, and again as retail sales reported by NPD.

200711221700

The result of a large supply and a slack demand is lower prices. That’s why the $250 30GB Zune from 2006 is now selling at 65% off at a variety of merchants. Among them is Amazon, which has been heavily promoting the Zune fire sale in its advertising and affiliate programs for $89. And so Microsoft is once again dumping models on the market while also trying to sell full price new versions.

Ten Myths of the Apple TV: Xbox and Hardware

Losing to Win?
With these genius strategies, it’s no wonder why the company burned through $8 billion last year in its consumer electronics division. Microsoft doesn’t want to compete on price, and doesn’t want to bother to build competitive products. Instead of competing in the market, it hopes to simply outlast the competition by funneling in profits from Windows and Office.

Microsoft’s Outrageous Office Profits

The problem of course, is that Apple is also competing against Windows and Office, and is also excelling in a market Microsoft has never been able to profitably crack into: mobile phones. Microsoft’s ongoing losses among its Windows Mobile products are as bad as its Zune and PlaysForSure failures. Conversely, Apple has been able to maintain its competitive lead in iPods and is now rapidly eating into the smartphone market.

Microsoft isn’t competing against an enfeebled early 90s Apple being run by salesmen, nor against another late 90s Netscape lacking any viable revenue streams. There are no partners for Microsoft to betray and no market winners to buyout. Microsoft now has to compete in the open market, something it has never done successfully.

All the company can do is continue to throw money at music on one front while it battles Google in search on another, Linux servers in another, OpenOffice in another, Blu-Ray in another, and Nintendo in console gaming. Meanwhile, its flagship Windows Vista product is in flames while Apple eats into the profitable end of consumer desktops and Linux increasingly eats into its installed base in low cost desktop sales.

Origins of the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD War
Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM

Microsoft still has a huge reserve of cash and revenues to throw at its battles. The problem for the company today is that it’s rivals now do, too.


What do you think? I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the
Forum or email me with your ideas.

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  • nat

    Been waiting for this article. Finally, someone picked up on the sham of WiFi sync. I guess that’s what M$ considers their best “one more thing.”

    Just took a look at the new Zune site today to see if they had changed their marketing once again. They had.

    First was Zune-Arts.net, which featured some of the oddest advertising disguised as music videos set to indie music. Resurrected toys, one-eyed phallic creatures, and dancing robots who shoot out rainbows that turn homeless men into pimps! Of course, none of these actually….show the Zune itself.

    Then, just last week, I went to the official Zune site where I was asked to take a “Zune journey.” When I hit the jump, a hand holding a Zune appeared. I assumed it would be a rather predictable interactive Flash tour. Well, after clicking music, the Zune opened from the side, like a book, and inside was the ugliest and perplexing world I’ve experienced. I had to navigate past an army of Zuney creatures as they sqrted songs to each other and myself. When I finally came to the end, which I honestly can’t even recall, the hand holding the Zune came up again and for every menu item (music, radio, podcasts, etc) there was a separate adventure. Who’s doing marketing, honestly?

    After a small Thanksgiving today, I wondered if I had imagined that horrifying place, so I went to the site again. Fortunately, Zuneland has since disappeared, now replaced with….a rather predictable tour of the product. The new Zunes can be rotated to show their new, yet still ugly faces and there’s even a comparison chart. I love how the 30GB Zune of 2006 is the same price as the 8GB Zune nano. It’s placed to the right of the new 80GB Zune in order to make that detail less apparent.

    Can’t wait for your next article, Daniel.

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  • ericdano

    Um, since this was written, the WSJ poll now has the Zune at 26% with 162976 votes. Everything else is like 1% or 6% other than the iPod/iPhone. I smell something fishy going on.

    Agree about the whole Zune thing. I’d suspect that someone has been slamming the WSJ poll.

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  • ori

    I read your articles cause I like your writing style and content. Nice. Keep this nice info coming.

  • http://www.giveyourbrainachance.com jeromec

    Another great article.

    I could not test that (we Europeans have not had the “chance” to have Zunes yet) but I read that wireless sync was possible without the Zune being plugged.
    Only automatic wireless sync (what a stupid feature btw) would require the Zune to be plugged.

    Maybe J Alllard’s hilarious comments about the iPhone, including “You can’t skip a track without looking at it”, which happens to be very untrue (there’s a button for that on the headset for that, I read – my iPhone will be here in a few days) would be worth mentioning in another article.

    Thanks again for your mostly great articles Daniel!

  • zune-online.com

    Hi,

    The Wifi sync on Zune works automatically when Zune is connected to a power source BUT it works also manually when Zune is not connected. The user has to select from the player the option “sync now”.

    I have a question: How is it possible in your articles about Zune to not be able to write something positive? With Zune 2 you must be trying hard to do it :)

    Kostas

    — Zune-Online.com

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  • Joe Sa

    The New Zune commercials On TV are a bit misleading also. They seem to give the impression that this is a touch screen device. The last seconds of the trip into Zuneland show a profile of a woman touching the Zune screen.

  • cubeeggs

    USA TODAY ran an article today about the ZUNE 80.
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2007-11-22-zune_N.htm

    They have a quote from Gotzune.com. Their site says about your article:

    There are some things in this article that are true, but it’s full of inaccuracies. So many that I am going to let you just head over to give them traffic for a job poorly done. Despite running a Zune centric site and having a bias towards Zune, I at least can point out the good in Apple products. Others seem to have a problem with that and end up making false statements…

    I think you’re wrong about it needing to be plugged in to sync. Microsoft’s Zune site says it just won’t automatically sync if it’s not plugged in.

  • Pez

    Great article Daniel,
    Let’s not forget that Microsoft’s Zune 80 is missing the boat on the biggest day for retailers all year long, black friday. Because there is extremely limited availablility of the Zune 80 people who might have bought it will be buying other players, which plays right into the competitions hands. Black Friday shoppers are incredibly fickle, if one product isn’t available they will imediately buy it’s competitors similar product.

    If you’re going to launch a product, even of limited interest, you’d better make it available to consumers!

  • elppa

    AppleTV has to be plugged in to sync wirelessly.

    I guess the a zune with the Home A/V pack will do a similar sort of trick. (Oviously not identical, I don’t know too much about TV, but I do know it has HDMI and I think it can receive streamed content).

    That poll is the funniest thing ever and the reason I generally never trust online polls.

  • elppa

    It is worth pointing out that the Home A/V kit is an extra $99 investment, so it is questionable how many users will plump for this option.

    On a more positive side, the Zune Art thing is a great idea, as it makes the device more personal. It’s an idea I could see Apple using. Even better would be to let people create their own artwork.

  • thgd

    The recent WSJ electronics buying poll got even better after this article appeared. In one of the most extraordinary developments in the history of retailing the zune managed to zoom at the last minute from 0% to 24%. More than 144,000 enthusiastic Zune givers magically appeared in less than 24 hours.

  • nat

    elppa said:
    “AppleTV has to be plugged in to sync wirelessly.”

    What’s your point? Did you expect AppleTV, which does considerably more than the Zune (streams and/or stores music, music videos, movies, podcasts, photos, tv shows and YouTube videos from one’s Mac or PC using HDMI and 5.1 sound) and is not even the same kind of product (weak portable media player vs. outstanding stationary media player)? Not flaming you here, just questioning your logic.

  • nat

    Ha, my question in my earlier post was supposed to be: Were you [elppa] expecting the AppleTV to run off a battery?

  • PikesPeak

    elppa said:
    “AppleTV has to be plugged in to sync wirelessly.”

    This is stupid. The only thing it is plugged in to is the power outlet, like a PVR, DVD, etc., it does not even have a battery, nor is anymore a portable device than your Tivo or XBox. The braindead Zune has wireless syncing but has to be plugged in to your PC to do it — utterly stupid. If it is already jacked in to your PC, what is the point of wireless syncing?? Geez.

  • sosumi

    While I agree with everything in this article I just have to point out that the WSJ-poll was very misleading. When you made the vote the choice was “iPod or iPhone”, but the result was presented as just “iPhone”.

  • elppa

    My comments were in response to this in the original article:

    “Today’s Zunes claim to uniquely provide wireless sync, but they require being plugged in order to do this! That’s not an advantage nor a feature.”

    I tried to think of an example where it could be an advantage or useful feature. This is what I came up with (rephrased):

    “If you had a Zune and an extra $99 lying around for the AV Kit, then you could make some use of the wireless syncing, because the Zune doesn’t need to be attached to a computer each time it syncs”

    This leads on to next (fairly obvious) question:

    “Can Microsoft really justify the expense in developing the software/hardware to accommodate wireless sync, when all users ultimately have to pay for it, yet only a fraction will make any practical use of it. (Because it requires an extra $99 dollar accessory to make any sense of it)”

    That takes us back to Dan’s original point on “understanding the engineering art of leaving things out”.

    Nat — your comments on the merits of TV vs Zune are all perfectly valid, except I had already made most of them (HDMI, wireless syncing). Even though I used TV as an example the comment wasn’t really about TV at all. If you want a comment on the TV vs Zune that is truly controversial, then pop over to the Windows Weekly Podcast, where Paul Thurott, in discussing the 80G black Zune, gave us this gem (rephrased slightly):

    “It’s like TV, only half the size and with twice the capacity!”.

    I was just trying to provide some critical analysis of the article. No one gets everything right (including Daniel) but some people (again like Dan) get more stuff right that others, which is why I read Roughly Drafted.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    @elppa

    Apple TV isn’t a battery operated, portable device. It also has features the Zune doesn’t, including HD output and streaming presentation. Comparing it to the Zune is something only a complete shill would attempt to do.

    The Xbox is comparable to Apple TV in its media functions. While you have to pay $99 extra to use the Xbox wirelessly (and its the previous b/g wireless, not the increased range and much faster Wireless N on the Apple TV), that is indeed a feature, as you don’t run down a battery in the process, and not having to run an Ethernet cable to your livingroom is a convenience.

    For a mobile media player however, you charge it via a cable, and can sync over the same cable. So “wireless” sync that requires a wired plugin is not a feature. Being able to sync wirelessly without a power cable is also dubious as WiFi drains the battery quickly, meaning you’d have to plug it in again after doing a significant sync. This is particularly a problem for WinCE-based devices like the Zune that have poor power management.

    You are trying to argue buzzwords and marketing PR, but the only thing that really matters to actual users is usability, practicality, and convenience. Microsoft is unable to tackle any of those, so it resorts to advertising useless, impractical, and inconvenient idiocy as “features.”

    And only a small minority of not-so-sharp people lap it up. That’s why Microsoft can’t sell the Zune, despite people like Thurrott waving it around like its something special.

  • elppa

    Daniel and others, please go back and read my posts again. I think you have jumped down my throat without really understanding the main point, which was:

    [1] Buy a Zune + AV Kit.
    [2] Dock in aforementioned AV kit and hook it up to TV.
    [3] Buy song/video from Zune Store and sync wirelessly with Zune.
    [4] Listen to song/watch video on TV without needing to hook Zune back up to computer.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have used the TV example at all and it has distracted people from understanding the main gist.

    “For a mobile media player however, you charge it via a cable, and can sync over the same cable. So “wireless” sync that requires a wired plugin is not a feature.”

    This is assuming this cable is connected to your computer. If the device is connected to just a power output and a TV then it becomes a feature.

    “The only thing that really matters to actual users is usability, practicality, and convenience.”

    Yes, which I am fully aware of, hence why I questioned the point of doing the wireless sync if it only becomes really useful if you have an extra $99 accessory.

  • cubeeggs

    A Zune 30 and an AV kit costs $300, doesn’t it? The same as a 40 GB Apple TV? The Zune and Apple TV are completely different products.

  • Pez

    To Zune-Online,
    Yes you can sync without being plugged in, but still is this even really a feature? When you have to plug it into your USB port on your computer anyway you’re syncing at a theoritical rate of 480 mbs vs. a rate of 54 mbs over wireless G (haha like you’d get that fast of a transfer in your wildest dreams) In other words wifi syncing and DRM-fest “sharing” (aka 3 plays and your done) are none features, just another useless “wireless” product that delivers far less than the average consumer expects.

    While the Zune 2 is a significant update from the Original Zune there are a lot of reports of the battery not living up to it’s spec. http://gotzune.com/2007/11/zune-battery-test-results-from-round-1-and-2
    and having problems with some units hard drive making excessive noise http://www.zunescene.mobi/forums/index.php?topic=25262.0
    and general dislike of the marketplace (Why have a device that can do video etc, but no support for it in the Market). http://reviews.cnet.com/music-services/zune-marketplace/4852-9240_7-32150195.html?tag=uoavrg

    In other words MS has once again failed to compete with the iPod/iTunes experience of even 2-3 years ago. And they still are turning a loss on it! Which again begs the question, how is it that MS expects to succeed with Zune?

  • mattjumbo

    “The Wifi sync on Zune works automatically when Zune is connected to a power source BUT it works also manually when Zune is not connected. The user has to select from the player the option “sync now”.”

    That kind of proves the point about MS “not getting it”, doesn’t it? Why on Earth would you tout a feature that requires an additional 99 dollar purchase *and* is turned off by default?

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  • nat

    ellpa said:
    “This is assuming this cable is connected to your computer. If the device [a Zune] is connected to just a power output and a TV then it becomes a feature.”

    Connecting a Zune to a power outlet and a TV doesn’t change its wireless sync into a feature, it just makes the Zune’s “wireless” sync even less wireless.

  • materro

    Sorry Daniel, but your story, though mostly correct, is factually wrong in one area.

    The Zune 2 CAN in fact sync wirelessly. (I looked this up because of your article.) I found several YouTube videos to back up this statement:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si-hIfNm9no
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHPiTOM3ItQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxaKarZl7mU

    It is not very quick as all three videos demonstrate and probably is not good for the battery, but the capability nonetheless exists.

    Thanks for the article!

  • squid

    CNET has Zune at #2 in its “Top 5: Most wanted gadgets” list. Hard to believe. And the editor seems to be amazed that the iPhone is still “hanging-on” at #5.

  • gus2000

    I don’t think anyone here (including Daniel) is suggesting that the Zune does not work, or is a terrible product. Rather, we question if it can be an “iPod killer”.

    I believe most people have brand preferences and would not choose between iPod and Zune, but there are some agnostics that would. The primary differentiating features of the Zune are:

    1. wifi (squirting/syncing)
    2. FM radio
    3. Windows Media compatibility

    and these are of dubious value. The reason Daniel tags the Zune as a “failure” is because MS is ignoring the features that made the iPod a runaway success in the first place, and instead playing up the value of minor add-ons. This makes Zune far from being an iPod Killer, leaving it as just another competitor in an already-crowded market.

    Isn’t it possible to rip CDs and play MP3s on the Zune without ever using any “MS Points”? If so, then why not sell the Zune everywhere in the world? Why also limit the Zune to only Windows-based PCs? Because MS is losing money on the player with the desire to lure you into fees and subscriptions. Selling loss-leader hardware in markets where you can’t get the subscription revenue is suicidal.

    To top it all off, MS seems to think that people only buy iPods because Apple is “cool”. So they just need to convince people that Zune is cool (via their Astroturfing) and then all the little lemmings will come running to them instead. What they don’t understand is that reputation only gets the wallet into the store; it’s the features and usability that gets the wallets to open.

  • Puma7

    “Microsoft also has no match for the standout iPod Touch, which delivers a luxury product with WiFi store features, web browsing, and YouTube streaming for about the same price as Microsoft’s hard drive based players.”
    First of all, the iPod Touch being compared to the Zune 80 is not credible. The iPod Touch 8GB is $300 while the Zune 80GB is $250. Yes, the iPod Touch may have features that the Zune 80 does not, but you failed to mention the huge capacity difference!

    “Microsoft is trying to play up the idea that its new 80 GB Zune has sold out due to popularity.”
    This is completely untrue. They were having production problems, and are supposed to be on track in a week or so.

    “When the Wall Street Journal recently posted a survey asking what gifts readers were planning to buy this winter, despite listing the Zune but not the iPod as options, the results showed that nobody had any interest in the Zune. It registered 0% interest after 123,000 votes.”
    Umm, actually after the poll has finished there was a 28% interest in the Zune, which brings it to 2nd place.

    This article is completely biased and fails to look at the other points that make the Zune good.

  • nat

    Kostas from zune-online.com said:
    “I have a question: How is it possible in your articles about Zune to not be able to write something positive? With Zune 2 you must be trying hard to do it”

    Did you read the article’s title?
    “Why Microsoft’s Zune is Still Failing”

    What were you expecting?

  • benlewis

    Speaking of CNet, how long have they been so blatantly shilling for Redmond? I wonder if their “editors” feel dirty at the end of the day? Their top MP3 player is the Zune 80, their top three “most popular” players are Zunes, and on a side note, they are calling the XBox 360 “The Console To Beat” even as there isn’t a Wii in stock anywhere. I don’t have a single problem with anything the “Zune-Love.coms” of the world say, because we know where they stand. Please stop pretending to be impartial, CNet – you are a paid shill!

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  • prabh1602

    Your article highlights most of the sad things about the Zune, but the only thing I belive you are wrong about is the performance of the Radio.

    Many users actually choose the Zune over the iPod and the Creative purely for the radio and its user friendly setup. And though the Zune 30 reception can be questioned, the new Zune’s use the headphone’s as an external antenna, providing MUCH better reception and sound quality.

    I know because I own the iPod 80 classic with the radio tuner from Belkin, and my roommate just bought a brand new Zune 8GB, and his offers as good and sometimes better reception than my external unit.

    Either way, that alone is certainly not enough to get me or the millions of others out there, to change over.

  • lightstab

    This whole Zune saga is really entertaining, mostly because history is repeating itself again. In a month and a half, Apple will release an iPod Touch with a higher capacity flash drive and the promise of a SDK, embarassing new Zune owners… Again. Remember last year, when Microsoft introduced the new Zune with Wifi and a bigger screen? Then, what was it, a month later, Apple introduced the iPhone?

    In the words of Lawrence Garfield, “At one time there must of been dozens of companies making buggy whips and I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw! Now how would you have liked to be a stockholder in that company?”

    Why people are cheering Microsoft on, I have no idea. Microsoft is actively supporting the RIAA by giving Universal a cut of their Zune profits. Yes, they’ve loosened their grip on content, but what do you think will happen if they ever truly knock Apple out of the picture? The music companies will immediately return to higher priced music laced with DRM. And Microsoft will be more than happy to accommodate them, just as long as the music industry is paying Microsoft to license their software.

  • htiawe

    I dont get some of theese arguments.
    WiFi sync works and yes, it problably drains alot of battery. So? Should we remove the possibility to watch movies or watch youtube on the iTouch because it drains battery?

    Should the radio be excluded because it features bad reception? No, it should be included and it should be included as default in ipods too. I wont spend 30 USD on a addon that i dont know if i want it, get the radio function in there and i can choose if i want to use it and get better reception or not.

    Im amazed the reason “drains battery” wasnt added to the motive for not having a radio.

    Im very happy with my iTouch but sometimes its so clear that Apple gets too protective with their territory, WiFi sync should have been in iTouch from the beginning.

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  • cubeeggs

    Puma7, please actually read the article. Right under that, it explains how the next day the Zune suspiciously got all of those votes.

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  • Didymus

    What I don’t quite get, in light of Zune’s supposed shortcomings, is the mass hysteria displayed over the Zune by Black Friday shoppers :
    http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/23/news/companies/toysrus/index.htm?postversion=2007112309

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  • kevinctofel

    I’ll give your general premise an 8 out of 10. Accuracy of facts fall far short, as indicated by many above. Here’s another ill-informed fallacy: “Microsoft lacks any idea of how to create hardware that the general public might seriously find useful. Any remaining doubts can be answered in one word: Origami.”

    Exactly what Origami hardware did Microsoft create that you (or anyone else) has used? None, because there isn’t any. Microsoft, Intel and partners created a loose UMPC spec, but you failed to mention that. All Origami devices are created by OEMs and others, not Microsoft.

  • limey

    I’ve never touched a Zune, had no opportunity or desire to. Microsoft has made no compelling reasons for me to do so.

    Wireless syncing. When would one wireless_sync when one couldn’t or wouldn’t dock it? Surely it would need to be charged periodically anyway, so wouldn’t one sync at the same time, and then wireless_sync would be redundant, wouldn’t it?

    Squirting. Songs, when squirted, would expire from the squirtee’s Zune in three days. This was, as I recall, a DRM restriction, was it not? Zune Fan(atic)s point out that the Zune Marketplace now is selling over 50% DRM free product. Has the three_day_limit been removed?

    What other point is there to Zune_wireless? None…
    Wireless is not a feature.

    Radio. I have one of those. Bought my first iPod (5 years ago) to get away from radio…
    Radio is not a feature.

    Microsoft – Please persuade me that your product is worth buying!

    I don’t think you can.

    So I won’t.

    john

    ps Buying a Touch today, because it has wireless worth using (and still no radio – yeeeah!)

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  • elppa

    Connecting a Zune to a power outlet and a TV doesn’t change its wireless sync into a feature, it just makes the Zune’s “wireless” sync even less wireless.

    Er, yes it does, because you can send content out to the Zune from your PC, without bringing the Zune to the PC == feature.

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  • Baroosk

    Holy SHNIKEEES! I just saw the Zoon commercial with the dancing pink bunnies (?)..

    What the heck is IN that Zoon water? I want some!

    Seriously though, what exactly are they advertising? An experience that takes you away into pink-bunny & furry pig land?

    And watch the commercial’s iPod like touches:
    –She… let’s call her Alice….delicately touches the Zune pad with a single finger.
    — Alice then looks into a window (?) and “touches” the glass
    –After leaving bunny-land she swims up & “touches” the glass to escape..
    –Then, as the camera looks at her face (and thus the back of the Zune) she “touches” the zune screen.

    Nice touch Microsquish.

    John
    Fairbanks, Ak

    (I only saw it once & went into convultions afterwards, so if I don’t remember it right, blame the laughter.)