Is Microsoft in Zune to win?

When I interviewed Steve Ballmer a few years back he said Microsoft is in the game to win.

But when you’re inside Microsoft the employees use different language. Many projects there are simply defensive ones. To keep a competitor from getting more inroads into one of its businesses. iPod, for instance, isn’t threatening to Microsoft directly, but they started the Zune project up when they noticed that a decent percentage of people, after buying an iPod, would switch their computers from Windows to Macs. THAT threatens Microsoft’s core business.

The problem is that whenever you do something just to defend another business you don’t do it from a position of love. Or a position of strength.

Now, look at the new Zunes and the reaction they are getting from journalists and bloggers.

I’m totally uninspired. Yawn.

Where’s the 16:9 wide screen? Where’s the super-dooper-podcasting features (and why weren’t these announced last week at the Podcasting Expo? Talk about a blown opportunity)?

Michael Gartenberg says that the features are actually pretty good but the marketing/messaging sucks. Again, this is a defensive product. It’s not a visionary one like the Tablet PC that Gates came up with on his own. The execs probably told the Zune team “stop the bleeding” or something metaphorically equivilent and the fact that they did a good job is surprising to Gates.

On the other hand, Apple HAS pissed off many of its most rabid evangelists lately. This Gizmodo post is one artifact of that. Apple’s treatment of developers and early adopters has opened up a marketing hole that Microsoft COULD take advantage of.

But only if Microsoft is in this game to win. It’s not. So we get uninspired product. Uninspired messaging. Uninspired launch dates.

Yawn. Wake me up when Macworld is here in January.

Comments

  1. You know what’s yawn-worthy? Your constant bashing of the company that put you where you are today. You’re entitled to your opinion, sure, but I get the distinct impression its tainted by a morbid subconcious decision to slate everything that Microsoft do.

    Is the PR crap? Perhaps so but for god’s sake…concentrate on what’s important – the product. Or perhaps concentrate on the backward support for owners of existing users. Anything but (yawn) marketing & PR.

    I for one am psyched by Zune Social, by integration with Media Center, by integration with XBox (http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/03/ok-so-maybe-i-had-a-few-things-to-say-about-the-new-images.aspx), by the publishing of my “most listened to” list or “what am I listening to now” on Facebook. I’m not psyched by marketing but frankly I don’t care whether the marketing is good or not. I care about what’s important – the product.

    Still, you’re not as biased as this guy: http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/are-you-going-to-the-zune-social-me-neither

    -Jamie

  2. You know what’s yawn-worthy? Your constant bashing of the company that put you where you are today. You’re entitled to your opinion, sure, but I get the distinct impression its tainted by a morbid subconcious decision to slate everything that Microsoft do.

    Is the PR crap? Perhaps so but for god’s sake…concentrate on what’s important – the product. Or perhaps concentrate on the backward support for owners of existing users. Anything but (yawn) marketing & PR.

    I for one am psyched by Zune Social, by integration with Media Center, by integration with XBox (http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/03/ok-so-maybe-i-had-a-few-things-to-say-about-the-new-images.aspx), by the publishing of my “most listened to” list or “what am I listening to now” on Facebook. I’m not psyched by marketing but frankly I don’t care whether the marketing is good or not. I care about what’s important – the product.

    Still, you’re not as biased as this guy: http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/are-you-going-to-the-zune-social-me-neither

    -Jamie

  3. Are you serious?

    Have you seen the spec comparison?

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/03/zune-vs-ipod-specification-smackdown/

    I know no one gets you as moist as his Jobsness, but let’s be serious, the Zune beats MS in some clear ways.

    1. Big screen with large HDD
    2. Lighter than iPod Classic and only a bit thicker
    3. Built in FM
    4. Revamped software with PODCASTING and networking
    5. Free upgrades for everyone
    6. Great codec support/ needs divx
    7. Wireless sync!

    Cmon. This beats the Classic and even the Touch in some ways.

    In 11/2009 you will get a 3.5/4″ touchscreen Zune that will make you cry. But this is pretty good.

  4. Are you serious?

    Have you seen the spec comparison?

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/03/zune-vs-ipod-specification-smackdown/

    I know no one gets you as moist as his Jobsness, but let’s be serious, the Zune beats MS in some clear ways.

    1. Big screen with large HDD
    2. Lighter than iPod Classic and only a bit thicker
    3. Built in FM
    4. Revamped software with PODCASTING and networking
    5. Free upgrades for everyone
    6. Great codec support/ needs divx
    7. Wireless sync!

    Cmon. This beats the Classic and even the Touch in some ways.

    In 11/2009 you will get a 3.5/4″ touchscreen Zune that will make you cry. But this is pretty good.

  5. [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBut when you’re inside Microsoft the employees use different language. Many projects there are simply defensive ones. To keep a competitor from getting more inroads into one of its businesses. iPod, for instance, isn’t threatening to … [...]

  6. The problem is that whenever you do something just to defend another business you don’t do it from a position of love. Or a position of strength.

    Now, look at the new Zunes and the reaction they are getting from journalists and bloggers.

    I’m totally uninspired. Yawn.

    I agree with Jamie T, there has been a lot of distaste since you left MS(now you praise Mac and Google all day). But to be so down right nasty. By the way the link you gave us are you not giving me the same impression that you are giving here. Dave Winer wants to try it out now that is saying alot

  7. The problem is that whenever you do something just to defend another business you don’t do it from a position of love. Or a position of strength.

    Now, look at the new Zunes and the reaction they are getting from journalists and bloggers.

    I’m totally uninspired. Yawn.

    I agree with Jamie T, there has been a lot of distaste since you left MS(now you praise Mac and Google all day). But to be so down right nasty. By the way the link you gave us are you not giving me the same impression that you are giving here. Dave Winer wants to try it out now that is saying alot

  8. C’mon Scoble, are you serious? The new Zune’s are not earthshattering. But they are getting solid reviews. The original Zune was a defensive product. But the very fact that Microsoft jettisoned the original Toshiba hardware, contracted for a whole new hardware design, and rewrote the embedded software, the Marketplace, and is putting together the social networking site, is a clear sign that they are now getting their feet underneith them in this market, and starting a longterm march.

    I’m not foolish enough to believe that Microsoft is going to take a commanding lead in this market with this generation of device. But they will expand their currently small beachhead into a solid foothold. And they will expand outward from there.

    Never count Microsoft out of a war that they are commited to. And I believe them when they say that they are commited to this one (see above). They have very deep pockets, and they enter these battles for the long run. They may not be first, but they will hang in there until they get it right. Don’t believe it? Check the markets that are littered with the bodies of former “unbeatable” market leaders. Netscape. AOL. Sony.

    And don’t be surprised if Apple is added to that list in 3-5 years. Despite having a miniscule segment of the market, Microsoft has some strengths on its side. Integration with Vista, for recording and syncing of television, will help to drive Zune sales. Eventual integration between the Zune and the Halo franchise will be a jugernaut to be dealt with. I don’t expect that it will be long in coming. The existing integration with XBox is only just starting to bear fruit, and will be expanded soon. Microsoft has huge datacenters, and a growing emphasis on hosted services/software as a service/computing in the “cloud”, that should allow the whole concept of the “Zune Social” (social music apps that allow for online music communities, music discovery, and sharing) to grow legs over the next 12-18 months. These are all attributes and assets that Apple simply does not have, and isn’t likely to have.

    Yup, the Zune 2 is a “me too” product. But it is a “me too” product that now puts Microsoft on essentially even footing with the iPod. And with a platform and codebase that they now entirely own, I’d expect a steady expansion down the road.

  9. C’mon Scoble, are you serious? The new Zune’s are not earthshattering. But they are getting solid reviews. The original Zune was a defensive product. But the very fact that Microsoft jettisoned the original Toshiba hardware, contracted for a whole new hardware design, and rewrote the embedded software, the Marketplace, and is putting together the social networking site, is a clear sign that they are now getting their feet underneith them in this market, and starting a longterm march.

    I’m not foolish enough to believe that Microsoft is going to take a commanding lead in this market with this generation of device. But they will expand their currently small beachhead into a solid foothold. And they will expand outward from there.

    Never count Microsoft out of a war that they are commited to. And I believe them when they say that they are commited to this one (see above). They have very deep pockets, and they enter these battles for the long run. They may not be first, but they will hang in there until they get it right. Don’t believe it? Check the markets that are littered with the bodies of former “unbeatable” market leaders. Netscape. AOL. Sony.

    And don’t be surprised if Apple is added to that list in 3-5 years. Despite having a miniscule segment of the market, Microsoft has some strengths on its side. Integration with Vista, for recording and syncing of television, will help to drive Zune sales. Eventual integration between the Zune and the Halo franchise will be a jugernaut to be dealt with. I don’t expect that it will be long in coming. The existing integration with XBox is only just starting to bear fruit, and will be expanded soon. Microsoft has huge datacenters, and a growing emphasis on hosted services/software as a service/computing in the “cloud”, that should allow the whole concept of the “Zune Social” (social music apps that allow for online music communities, music discovery, and sharing) to grow legs over the next 12-18 months. These are all attributes and assets that Apple simply does not have, and isn’t likely to have.

    Yup, the Zune 2 is a “me too” product. But it is a “me too” product that now puts Microsoft on essentially even footing with the iPod. And with a platform and codebase that they now entirely own, I’d expect a steady expansion down the road.

  10. Alijah: the fact that you aren’t listening yet is demonstration of the arrogance that still resides inside Microsoft.

    But don’t listen to me. Listen to the market. Microsoft’s stock has been flat for years. THAT is how you all are really being judged.

    Dave Winer? He wants a freebie. But everytime we go into an Apple store together he spends his money there. That’s saying something.

    But Apple is pissing off its most evangelistic customers. Will Microsoft take advantage of that? I don’t know, these releases don’t inspire me.

  11. Alijah: the fact that you aren’t listening yet is demonstration of the arrogance that still resides inside Microsoft.

    But don’t listen to me. Listen to the market. Microsoft’s stock has been flat for years. THAT is how you all are really being judged.

    Dave Winer? He wants a freebie. But everytime we go into an Apple store together he spends his money there. That’s saying something.

    But Apple is pissing off its most evangelistic customers. Will Microsoft take advantage of that? I don’t know, these releases don’t inspire me.

  12. Olmy: >But they are getting solid reviews.

    I didn’t say they weren’t “solid.” Just uninspiring. But, as you point out, it’s not me that matters. It’s customers. Will they choose Zunes over iPod Touches (which are currently sold out everywhere I look for them)? We’ll know in December during Christmas time.

  13. Olmy: >But they are getting solid reviews.

    I didn’t say they weren’t “solid.” Just uninspiring. But, as you point out, it’s not me that matters. It’s customers. Will they choose Zunes over iPod Touches (which are currently sold out everywhere I look for them)? We’ll know in December during Christmas time.

  14. @Alijah Green: I agree with you. Scoble seems to be angry at Microsoft for whatever reason it may be. He probably hasn’t even seen the new Zune in person, used its new interface or any of its features.

    I can’t believe anyone can make such a sweeping statement about a product without using it. I think what you have here is a person with a negative bias towards Microsoft rather than anything objective. Its sad because he would be a “no one” if not for Microsoft.

  15. @Alijah Green: I agree with you. Scoble seems to be angry at Microsoft for whatever reason it may be. He probably hasn’t even seen the new Zune in person, used its new interface or any of its features.

    I can’t believe anyone can make such a sweeping statement about a product without using it. I think what you have here is a person with a negative bias towards Microsoft rather than anything objective. Its sad because he would be a “no one” if not for Microsoft.

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong, but could it be that your blog posts are “inspired by Patrick Scoble” lately? Having a Mac fanboy in the family doesn’t seem to help in forming your own independent opinion about products competing with the ones from Apple.

  17. @Scoble: Comparing the latest Zune with iPod Touch is stupid to say the least. The newest Zunes are in response to iPod Nano and Classic and not Touch. Again I haven’t used the products but design wise it looks to be a good improvement above the previous generation and has potential. Whether it will be a success will depend on the new updated firmware (which again I haven’t used) and the new redesigned marketplace software.

  18. @Scoble: Comparing the latest Zune with iPod Touch is stupid to say the least. The newest Zunes are in response to iPod Nano and Classic and not Touch. Again I haven’t used the products but design wise it looks to be a good improvement above the previous generation and has potential. Whether it will be a success will depend on the new updated firmware (which again I haven’t used) and the new redesigned marketplace software.

  19. Correct me if I’m wrong, but could it be that your blog posts are “inspired by Patrick Scoble” lately? Having a Mac fanboy in the family doesn’t seem to help in forming your own independent opinion about products competing with the ones from Apple.

  20. Martin: check Apple’s market share lately. It’s not just the fan boys who are moving over to Apple stuff. There’s a reason for that, no matter how many of you protest my treatment of Microsoft.

    Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.

  21. Martin: check Apple’s market share lately. It’s not just the fan boys who are moving over to Apple stuff. There’s a reason for that, no matter how many of you protest my treatment of Microsoft.

    Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.

  22. Robert, all I can say is that compare the products in the same category. Do not compare 80 KG wrestler with a 100 KG one.

    In the same categories, Zune beats iPod in almost every aspect except the installed base. If one sees an iPod 80 and Zune 80 side by side, it becomes harder to buy iPod 80 and Zune 80 looks irresistible.

    Zune does not yet have two extreme categories of iPods. Shuffle and Touch. So there is no need to compare those yet.

  23. Robert, all I can say is that compare the products in the same category. Do not compare 80 KG wrestler with a 100 KG one.

    In the same categories, Zune beats iPod in almost every aspect except the installed base. If one sees an iPod 80 and Zune 80 side by side, it becomes harder to buy iPod 80 and Zune 80 looks irresistible.

    Zune does not yet have two extreme categories of iPods. Shuffle and Touch. So there is no need to compare those yet.

  24. >Zune beats iPod in almost every aspect except the installed base.

    Excuse me? Get real.

    How about phone? My iPod is a phone.

    How about wide screen and/or resolution? iPod wins there. That’s more important for watching modern-day videos than anything else.

    How about style? Sorry, I still don’t like the style of the Zunes.

    How about brand/coolness? Visit a playground in Jr. High or High School and ask around what’s cooler, iPods or Zunes. Yes, that matters.

    How about size? The Nanos are smaller and cooler.

    How about fun? Touch is WAY more fun to use than pushing a button.

  25. >Zune beats iPod in almost every aspect except the installed base.

    Excuse me? Get real.

    How about phone? My iPod is a phone.

    How about wide screen and/or resolution? iPod wins there. That’s more important for watching modern-day videos than anything else.

    How about style? Sorry, I still don’t like the style of the Zunes.

    How about brand/coolness? Visit a playground in Jr. High or High School and ask around what’s cooler, iPods or Zunes. Yes, that matters.

    How about size? The Nanos are smaller and cooler.

    How about fun? Touch is WAY more fun to use than pushing a button.

  26. Robert, you can make the marketshare argument other way also. The market share situation in portable player is a mirror image of computer market share. So you can’t make one sided argument on this number alone.

  27. Robert, you can make the marketshare argument other way also. The market share situation in portable player is a mirror image of computer market share. So you can’t make one sided argument on this number alone.

  28. Robert: check Windows market share lately. It’s not just the fan boys who are moving over to Microsoft stuff. There’s a reason for that, no matter how many of you protest my treatment of Apple.

    MacOS has, what, around 5% market share with Windows having most of the rest? Damn.

    (see, it works both ways)

  29. Robert: check Windows market share lately. It’s not just the fan boys who are moving over to Microsoft stuff. There’s a reason for that, no matter how many of you protest my treatment of Apple.

    MacOS has, what, around 5% market share with Windows having most of the rest? Damn.

    (see, it works both ways)

  30. Robert, I guess you are so busy that you have problem reading:) I said compare the products in the same category. I also said Zune does not yet have two categories, Shuffle and Touch.

  31. Robert, I guess you are so busy that you have problem reading:) I said compare the products in the same category. I also said Zune does not yet have two categories, Shuffle and Touch.

  32. Atually I think these models are pretty good (for music) although you are right in that they don’t do video that well, of course, neither does Apple, as Archos (God Bless the French, justthisonce) gets the video crown, and even the fatso-clunky-plasticky Creative Zen’s do better video than Microsoft or Apple. But Zune did go MP4 and H264.

    So DRM free marketplace, a slick slick look, 80 gig, with killer new firmware and KILLER UI, and (finally) rewritten Zune interface software. With backwards firmware support for the Zune 30s, making early adopters happy. Most analysts and even the gadget freaks, are saying Microsoft has a good offering here, and assuming they aren’t overheating factory-defects like the 360s, I think they actually might have something here, as this seems a version 3 or 4 product. All over, first impressions are good, even from the usual crop of everything-only-ever-Apple cultists. Anyone know if they have FLAC support? Haven’t heard that yet, if FLAC it’s a must buy.

    I don’t think they can ‘ever’ win, as iPod is too well-entrenched, and Microsoft spends billions maintaining 2nd to 3rd to 4th places. But, we the consumers, benefit from all the political warfare games. I think this is a winner, will they win? I don’t know, nor really care.

    And the average non-Silicon Valley consumer seems to have shrugged over the new iPods, and iPhone mania continues to have troubles and drop-offs, making touch, PDA and Tablets, niche markets, at best.

    But have to correct your contention that Gates came up with the Tablet PC concept, as Pen Computing had a long long history before Gates funded it, from Grid, Agilis, Go Corporation, Eo, General Magic, Atari to Momenta, and many more. Thank goodness he made it popular, but even in the Vista/OneNote era it’s in a no-man’s vertical land, with most not knowing or much caring, with heavy ISV support dead from get-go. And plus full credit for helping the ‘concept’ along (imho) needs to be paid to Alexandra Loeb. :)

  33. Atually I think these models are pretty good (for music) although you are right in that they don’t do video that well, of course, neither does Apple, as Archos (God Bless the French, justthisonce) gets the video crown, and even the fatso-clunky-plasticky Creative Zen’s do better video than Microsoft or Apple. But Zune did go MP4 and H264.

    So DRM free marketplace, a slick slick look, 80 gig, with killer new firmware and KILLER UI, and (finally) rewritten Zune interface software. With backwards firmware support for the Zune 30s, making early adopters happy. Most analysts and even the gadget freaks, are saying Microsoft has a good offering here, and assuming they aren’t overheating factory-defects like the 360s, I think they actually might have something here, as this seems a version 3 or 4 product. All over, first impressions are good, even from the usual crop of everything-only-ever-Apple cultists. Anyone know if they have FLAC support? Haven’t heard that yet, if FLAC it’s a must buy.

    I don’t think they can ‘ever’ win, as iPod is too well-entrenched, and Microsoft spends billions maintaining 2nd to 3rd to 4th places. But, we the consumers, benefit from all the political warfare games. I think this is a winner, will they win? I don’t know, nor really care.

    And the average non-Silicon Valley consumer seems to have shrugged over the new iPods, and iPhone mania continues to have troubles and drop-offs, making touch, PDA and Tablets, niche markets, at best.

    But have to correct your contention that Gates came up with the Tablet PC concept, as Pen Computing had a long long history before Gates funded it, from Grid, Agilis, Go Corporation, Eo, General Magic, Atari to Momenta, and many more. Thank goodness he made it popular, but even in the Vista/OneNote era it’s in a no-man’s vertical land, with most not knowing or much caring, with heavy ISV support dead from get-go. And plus full credit for helping the ‘concept’ along (imho) needs to be paid to Alexandra Loeb. :)

  34. “Comparing the latest Zune with iPod Touch is stupid to say the least. The newest Zunes are in response to iPod Nano and Classic and not Touch”

    As someone pointed out on slashdot, that is always a problem when you are copying instead of innovating.

    Why the hell shouldn’t people compare the new Zunes to new iPods? That’s the choice people have in the shops/online. You must have some weird view on how people go shopping.

  35. “Comparing the latest Zune with iPod Touch is stupid to say the least. The newest Zunes are in response to iPod Nano and Classic and not Touch”

    As someone pointed out on slashdot, that is always a problem when you are copying instead of innovating.

    Why the hell shouldn’t people compare the new Zunes to new iPods? That’s the choice people have in the shops/online. You must have some weird view on how people go shopping.

  36. Disclaimer – I work for MSFT but this is just a strong personal opinion.

    Robert – I’m sorry but this is really a ‘jumping the shark’ post from you . Are you reading the comments on Engadget or Digg or Gizmodo about the new Zunes? They’re not saying ‘Yawn’ at all – they’re saying the exact opposite.

    When someone tries to point that out to you, you come back and say ‘look at marketshare’ but you dont want to talk about it on the PC side of things.

    You say ‘uninspired launch dates’ – when all these products will be launched a month from now in ample time for the holidays.

    Oh and btw, the Zune v2 does support podcasts.

    I would not be posting this if every blogger is beating up the Zune (I just went and reread a lot of comments). But no one is and most of their readers are not.

    Except you.

    You can spin this into a “Microsoft isn’t listening” but I think its just you who isn’t.

    Robert – there’s a lot of times when you give good, solid feedback to Microsoft but this sure isn’t one of them.

  37. Disclaimer – I work for MSFT but this is just a strong personal opinion.

    Robert – I’m sorry but this is really a ‘jumping the shark’ post from you . Are you reading the comments on Engadget or Digg or Gizmodo about the new Zunes? They’re not saying ‘Yawn’ at all – they’re saying the exact opposite.

    When someone tries to point that out to you, you come back and say ‘look at marketshare’ but you dont want to talk about it on the PC side of things.

    You say ‘uninspired launch dates’ – when all these products will be launched a month from now in ample time for the holidays.

    Oh and btw, the Zune v2 does support podcasts.

    I would not be posting this if every blogger is beating up the Zune (I just went and reread a lot of comments). But no one is and most of their readers are not.

    Except you.

    You can spin this into a “Microsoft isn’t listening” but I think its just you who isn’t.

    Robert – there’s a lot of times when you give good, solid feedback to Microsoft but this sure isn’t one of them.

  38. “Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.”

    Damn, what? If the race to win the portable music market was over today or tomorrow, that statement would matter. It’s not.

    As many others have pointed out…Windows NT, Xbox, etc. “In it to win” usually works here. As much as Microsoft would like to change to being the company that gets it right from day 1, we never will (my opinion anyway). Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. Release something, gather feedback, then expand/build on it and repeat until you get it right. While you may be uninspired, there’s no denying there has been progress. Where are your statements about how Microsoft will offer firmware updates for old Zunes? You talk about customers being the only thing that matters. Does letting them upgrade to the latest and greatest without having to buy a new device not seem like customer focus to you? It does to me. Or are you uninspired because it’s not flashy enough for you? If that’s the case, then I think I just wasted my time reading this post. :)

  39. “Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.”

    Damn, what? If the race to win the portable music market was over today or tomorrow, that statement would matter. It’s not.

    As many others have pointed out…Windows NT, Xbox, etc. “In it to win” usually works here. As much as Microsoft would like to change to being the company that gets it right from day 1, we never will (my opinion anyway). Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. Release something, gather feedback, then expand/build on it and repeat until you get it right. While you may be uninspired, there’s no denying there has been progress. Where are your statements about how Microsoft will offer firmware updates for old Zunes? You talk about customers being the only thing that matters. Does letting them upgrade to the latest and greatest without having to buy a new device not seem like customer focus to you? It does to me. Or are you uninspired because it’s not flashy enough for you? If that’s the case, then I think I just wasted my time reading this post. :)

  40. You seem to be hitting a nail on the head. I have been talking to some of my friends that used to work at Microsoft and they say that there is a lot of that uninspired bureaucracy with a heathy helping of non-creativity going around there. They have deep enough pockets to go on like that and hopefully they have the power to fix it. I with the best of them but in the mean time I am quite happy with my Mac and my Linux machine.

  41. You seem to be hitting a nail on the head. I have been talking to some of my friends that used to work at Microsoft and they say that there is a lot of that uninspired bureaucracy with a heathy helping of non-creativity going around there. They have deep enough pockets to go on like that and hopefully they have the power to fix it. I with the best of them but in the mean time I am quite happy with my Mac and my Linux machine.

  42. Tim, as I’m sure you know there are different categories of players. Comparing a Touch to the Zune 80 one might say having 5-10x the storage space is a huge advantage. But any Apples sales clerk would say that if you need a hard disk based player, the comparable product is the iPod classic.

    If you want to compare the Touch to the Zune2 you’d have to compare it to the 8/16g versions of the Zune at which point one would have to ask themselves if the touch features are worth 2x the cost. For many they are, for many the Zune looks like an incredible deal in comparison.

    The Zune is not a revolutionary product but is looking like it will be a excellent value product rather than a premium product at a premium price. At this point in the game, IMO it is the right demographic to focus on.

  43. Tim, as I’m sure you know there are different categories of players. Comparing a Touch to the Zune 80 one might say having 5-10x the storage space is a huge advantage. But any Apples sales clerk would say that if you need a hard disk based player, the comparable product is the iPod classic.

    If you want to compare the Touch to the Zune2 you’d have to compare it to the 8/16g versions of the Zune at which point one would have to ask themselves if the touch features are worth 2x the cost. For many they are, for many the Zune looks like an incredible deal in comparison.

    The Zune is not a revolutionary product but is looking like it will be a excellent value product rather than a premium product at a premium price. At this point in the game, IMO it is the right demographic to focus on.

  44. The Zune supporters are making statements that support the idea that Microsoft doesn’t innovate. One could conclude that Microsoft just copies Apple. Yet again. I guess there is something to the claim that Cupertino is Microsoft’s southern research facility.

    Microsoft’s strength is it’s OEM partnerships. It’s a company with two heads–one for the corporate side and one for the consumer side–but the heads can’t connect because the DNA of these two markets don’t mix. I doubt the meat and potato corporate accounts care anything at all about Zunes. Why would they? So Microsoft can provide another vector of vulnerabilities to the company’s office?

  45. The Zune supporters are making statements that support the idea that Microsoft doesn’t innovate. One could conclude that Microsoft just copies Apple. Yet again. I guess there is something to the claim that Cupertino is Microsoft’s southern research facility.

    Microsoft’s strength is it’s OEM partnerships. It’s a company with two heads–one for the corporate side and one for the consumer side–but the heads can’t connect because the DNA of these two markets don’t mix. I doubt the meat and potato corporate accounts care anything at all about Zunes. Why would they? So Microsoft can provide another vector of vulnerabilities to the company’s office?

  46. “If I am, then someone will certainly take me up on the Zune Challenge I just put out there”

    Since you didnt do a video session with ValleyWag, i guess everything they’ve written about You and Podtech is true.

  47. “If I am, then someone will certainly take me up on the Zune Challenge I just put out there”

    Since you didnt do a video session with ValleyWag, i guess everything they’ve written about You and Podtech is true.

  48. question: if it’s on the Internet it must be true, right? Speaking of which, when did I ever turn down doing a video with Valleywag folks? I don’t remember ever being asked.

  49. question: if it’s on the Internet it must be true, right? Speaking of which, when did I ever turn down doing a video with Valleywag folks? I don’t remember ever being asked.

  50. I’m tired of the whole marketshare arguement. The fact is that the market can host multiple brands and products.

    If we were discussing toasters or some other less high profile consumer electronic item (like a DVD player), nobody cares which one they have.

    People purchase consumer products based on how it looks, how much it costs and in some cases how cool it is. Lots of people have different opinions on all 3 of these dimensions which is why there is such a wide variety of toasters in the market.

    There is room for both iPod, Zune and other players in the market. I don’t care who wins. I like the iPod touch if you like the Zune, fine.

  51. I’m tired of the whole marketshare arguement. The fact is that the market can host multiple brands and products.

    If we were discussing toasters or some other less high profile consumer electronic item (like a DVD player), nobody cares which one they have.

    People purchase consumer products based on how it looks, how much it costs and in some cases how cool it is. Lots of people have different opinions on all 3 of these dimensions which is why there is such a wide variety of toasters in the market.

    There is room for both iPod, Zune and other players in the market. I don’t care who wins. I like the iPod touch if you like the Zune, fine.

  52. Honestly, Scoble you sure are drinking the Apple Kool-aid. The iPhone is not the best phone, PDA or media player or even the best combination of the 3 but it can do no wrong. However, when Microsoft develops a superior product with Zune over the iPod, offers a better music store ( Zune Pass Subscription ) you say that they can’t win. Do you know why Microsoft is going to win in the end? They will own the living room, dorm room and Home Cinema. With their ever improving intergration of XBOX360, Zune, Media Center and thier forthcoming IPTV products and partnerships they will own the future of entertainment.

    Can you Buy HD Content on your Apple TV?

    Can you Record TV out of the box with your Mac?

    Apple will faulter on entertainment products mark my word.

  53. Honestly, Scoble you sure are drinking the Apple Kool-aid. The iPhone is not the best phone, PDA or media player or even the best combination of the 3 but it can do no wrong. However, when Microsoft develops a superior product with Zune over the iPod, offers a better music store ( Zune Pass Subscription ) you say that they can’t win. Do you know why Microsoft is going to win in the end? They will own the living room, dorm room and Home Cinema. With their ever improving intergration of XBOX360, Zune, Media Center and thier forthcoming IPTV products and partnerships they will own the future of entertainment.

    Can you Buy HD Content on your Apple TV?

    Can you Record TV out of the box with your Mac?

    Apple will faulter on entertainment products mark my word.

  54. The truth on the Zune’s wireless sync:
    “[1] Wireless Sync requires access to a home wireless network and can be manually initiated by clicking “sync now” on the Zune. Automatic Wireless Sync requires AC power to the Zune device via a dock, AC adapter or speaker dock accessory. ”

    source: http://www.zune.net/en-us/meetzune/holiday2007.htm

    Fable wireless requires docking. Typical Microsoftian innovation.

  55. The truth on the Zune’s wireless sync:
    “[1] Wireless Sync requires access to a home wireless network and can be manually initiated by clicking “sync now” on the Zune. Automatic Wireless Sync requires AC power to the Zune device via a dock, AC adapter or speaker dock accessory. ”

    source: http://www.zune.net/en-us/meetzune/holiday2007.htm

    Fable wireless requires docking. Typical Microsoftian innovation.

  56. I fully admit to being a fan of the Zune, of Microsoft, and of associated gubbins. Even saying that though I would struggle to justify how the Zune as a gadget in and of itself is better than an iPod and it quite amuses me when I see fellow Zune-advocates arguing to the contrary. Still, its all good fun.

    You may ask then “Why Jamie, if you think the iPod is better, do you describe yourself as a Zune fan?” Its a question I struggle to answer myself sometimes but its basically this. Microsoft have their fingers in an awful lot of pies in XBox, Zune, O/S, Media Center, Online Services (i.e. Windows Live), Search, Surface, Social networks, and so on. Probably none of these things can legitimately claim to be “the best” at what they do but what makes Microsoft compelling to me is that they can and will offer connected experiences across all of these areas. Each area enhances the others and whilst I think the phrase “great than the sum of its parts” is overused I think its useful here. That’s why I bore people to tears about these things so much on my blog.

    I’ve just realised this is a rather pointless digression but I’m going to hit submit anyway :)

    -Jamie

  57. I fully admit to being a fan of the Zune, of Microsoft, and of associated gubbins. Even saying that though I would struggle to justify how the Zune as a gadget in and of itself is better than an iPod and it quite amuses me when I see fellow Zune-advocates arguing to the contrary. Still, its all good fun.

    You may ask then “Why Jamie, if you think the iPod is better, do you describe yourself as a Zune fan?” Its a question I struggle to answer myself sometimes but its basically this. Microsoft have their fingers in an awful lot of pies in XBox, Zune, O/S, Media Center, Online Services (i.e. Windows Live), Search, Surface, Social networks, and so on. Probably none of these things can legitimately claim to be “the best” at what they do but what makes Microsoft compelling to me is that they can and will offer connected experiences across all of these areas. Each area enhances the others and whilst I think the phrase “great than the sum of its parts” is overused I think its useful here. That’s why I bore people to tears about these things so much on my blog.

    I’ve just realised this is a rather pointless digression but I’m going to hit submit anyway :)

    -Jamie

  58. Patz,
    It seems you don’t understand the very thing that you’ve copied-pasted. Wireless syncing does not require docking. Period. Auto-wireless-syncing does but the 2 are not the same. If the only difference is that I have to press a button when I’m not docked then I really really don’t care.

    -Jamie

  59. Patz,
    It seems you don’t understand the very thing that you’ve copied-pasted. Wireless syncing does not require docking. Period. Auto-wireless-syncing does but the 2 are not the same. If the only difference is that I have to press a button when I’m not docked then I really really don’t care.

    -Jamie

  60. You do not need to be connected in order to initiate wireless sync. The Zune device will need to be docked during first time use and setup, but afterwards you will be able to sync via your home wireless network.

  61. You do not need to be connected in order to initiate wireless sync. The Zune device will need to be docked during first time use and setup, but afterwards you will be able to sync via your home wireless network.

  62. Scoble, I totally agree with you. I’m in the market for an mp3 player. I’ve been really considering an Ipod for a while. I like the Ipod touch, but am waiting until they get a larger hard drive in it.

    When I saw that a Zune was coming out, I thought I’d consider it. I actually grimaced when I saw Microsoft’s competing product. 4GB and 8GB?! WTF? I want to either store 1) enough songs for jogging or 2) my entire collection with room for more. If I’m gonna spend $200+ I want something substantial in return.

    That takes us to the 80GB, and its set of irrelevant features. I don’t care about FM tuners, I don’t care if I can sync wirelessly, I don’t care if I can buy songs from any wireless network (that’s really a feature for them more than for me). And the cost?…$250!!! You’d have to be out of your mind to buy a Zune before buying an Ipod!

  63. Scoble, I totally agree with you. I’m in the market for an mp3 player. I’ve been really considering an Ipod for a while. I like the Ipod touch, but am waiting until they get a larger hard drive in it.

    When I saw that a Zune was coming out, I thought I’d consider it. I actually grimaced when I saw Microsoft’s competing product. 4GB and 8GB?! WTF? I want to either store 1) enough songs for jogging or 2) my entire collection with room for more. If I’m gonna spend $200+ I want something substantial in return.

    That takes us to the 80GB, and its set of irrelevant features. I don’t care about FM tuners, I don’t care if I can sync wirelessly, I don’t care if I can buy songs from any wireless network (that’s really a feature for them more than for me). And the cost?…$250!!! You’d have to be out of your mind to buy a Zune before buying an Ipod!

  64. Good reviews? Where? The only good reviews so far are posts on tech blogs from Microsoft employees disguising as normal users and Robert Enderle. We all know about Robert Enderle and Apple.

  65. Good reviews? Where? The only good reviews so far are posts on tech blogs from Microsoft employees disguising as normal users and Robert Enderle. We all know about Robert Enderle and Apple.

  66. It’s a yawner indeed. After a year of waiting, I was expecting, not just feature parity, but design and screen parity. The Zune is still 320 x and doesn’t have 480×320 @ 163ppi. The moves, TV shows, images are stunning. Zune could have done the same. Instead MS produces a boring update that are hardly exciting. I can’t see myself grinning widely with joy as my Zune syncs wirelessly, while tethered to a cable to provide power. Yes the wifi will kill your battery if you sync wirelessly. Why do you think you must be powered to do so? But when you watch a video on the iPhone or Touch, its just gorgeous, and the 7 hours on the iPhone for video is just amazing battery power. MS had time to catch up and surpass the user experience. But like total Eng/Nerds that they are, their vision of excitement is squirting music to each other and tethered wireless syncing? Pleeeez.

  67. It’s a yawner indeed. After a year of waiting, I was expecting, not just feature parity, but design and screen parity. The Zune is still 320 x and doesn’t have 480×320 @ 163ppi. The moves, TV shows, images are stunning. Zune could have done the same. Instead MS produces a boring update that are hardly exciting. I can’t see myself grinning widely with joy as my Zune syncs wirelessly, while tethered to a cable to provide power. Yes the wifi will kill your battery if you sync wirelessly. Why do you think you must be powered to do so? But when you watch a video on the iPhone or Touch, its just gorgeous, and the 7 hours on the iPhone for video is just amazing battery power. MS had time to catch up and surpass the user experience. But like total Eng/Nerds that they are, their vision of excitement is squirting music to each other and tethered wireless syncing? Pleeeez.

  68. @Ryan Rapp: Not sure I understand your rationale – based on what you’ve stated is important to you, what exactly would make you choose an iPod over a Zune? Keep in mind the price points for the new Zunes are the same as those of their Apple counterparts.

  69. @Ryan Rapp: Not sure I understand your rationale – based on what you’ve stated is important to you, what exactly would make you choose an iPod over a Zune? Keep in mind the price points for the new Zunes are the same as those of their Apple counterparts.

  70. Scoble, you obviously have no desire to be a Microsoft customer, as evidenced by this post and your post about Ballmer. So, short of linkbaiting, why do you even care what Microsoft does?

  71. Scoble, you obviously have no desire to be a Microsoft customer, as evidenced by this post and your post about Ballmer. So, short of linkbaiting, why do you even care what Microsoft does?

  72. I don’t really get this :-)

    I am living in Belgium and can’t get hold of either a Zune nor an Iphone

    Sure I can have the itouch but I am not interested in a crippled device where the mail and calendar apps are unavailable or non-editable (so why the keyboard if i can’t edit something as crucial as MY calendar)

    But I am not religious. I like the iphone, i do like the design of the new zunes and the feature set is more appealing than the ipod classic. Uninspired? I think the design is refreshing and remarkably in tune with the redesign of vista and other MS products. And the features are not as groundbreaking as an iphone, but it’s not meant to compete with the much more expensive (remember the pricy 2 year contract!) iphone. Compare it to the ipod classic.

    Ipod classic sounds like an Emerson, Lake and Palmer LP with lots of dust. My father buys “classics”. Where’s the rock an roll in the new Ipod classic? It bears no new features but a higer capacity and small user interface improvements. Talk about uninspiring really.

    So I want a zune and an iphone (albeit WITHOUT the contract). Oops both not available in Belgium.

    I think I’ll go for the emerson lake and palmer device then.

    Hendrik

  73. I don’t really get this :-)

    I am living in Belgium and can’t get hold of either a Zune nor an Iphone

    Sure I can have the itouch but I am not interested in a crippled device where the mail and calendar apps are unavailable or non-editable (so why the keyboard if i can’t edit something as crucial as MY calendar)

    But I am not religious. I like the iphone, i do like the design of the new zunes and the feature set is more appealing than the ipod classic. Uninspired? I think the design is refreshing and remarkably in tune with the redesign of vista and other MS products. And the features are not as groundbreaking as an iphone, but it’s not meant to compete with the much more expensive (remember the pricy 2 year contract!) iphone. Compare it to the ipod classic.

    Ipod classic sounds like an Emerson, Lake and Palmer LP with lots of dust. My father buys “classics”. Where’s the rock an roll in the new Ipod classic? It bears no new features but a higer capacity and small user interface improvements. Talk about uninspiring really.

    So I want a zune and an iphone (albeit WITHOUT the contract). Oops both not available in Belgium.

    I think I’ll go for the emerson lake and palmer device then.

    Hendrik

  74. “I’d love to try a Zune out if any Microsoft PR people still read Scoble.”

    What is it with the constant crying about not getting a Zune from Winer? Overlooked by MS, blah blah. Can’t afford one? Go buy one like most people do. There’s no need for MS to send sciprting.com a Zune. They’ll get nothing from it. They’re better off getting other groups to review it. Groups that will have more influence.

  75. “I’d love to try a Zune out if any Microsoft PR people still read Scoble.”

    What is it with the constant crying about not getting a Zune from Winer? Overlooked by MS, blah blah. Can’t afford one? Go buy one like most people do. There’s no need for MS to send sciprting.com a Zune. They’ll get nothing from it. They’re better off getting other groups to review it. Groups that will have more influence.

  76. Hey Paul, doing fine huh?

    M$ stock started the year at $29 and still today $29
    Apple started around $50 and today over $160 TRIPLED!!!

    Right, doing fine…

  77. Hey Paul, doing fine huh?

    M$ stock started the year at $29 and still today $29
    Apple started around $50 and today over $160 TRIPLED!!!

    Right, doing fine…

  78. I guess I’m one of the few people that actually agree with Scoble.
    Yes, the Zune may have (slightly) better features than the iPod, but without a doubt the “flashier” player is the iPod.
    And while those of us with technical backgrounds might go for the better featured one (though why Microsoft wouldn’t try implementing better web features having Wi-Fi built in from the beginning is escaping me), everyone else is going to go for the flashier one. Forget about saying you’re comparing apples to oranges, what the average person is going to see is an attempt to imitate a 1st-gen iPod vs. the highly touted Touch interface.
    Hell, I’m not an iPod fan myself and I’d still take the Touch over the Zune: built in web browser vs. Wireless Sharing/Sync?

    And that’s why Microsoft is going to lose this battle if they keep being a step behind Apple. They need to come up with a “wow” feature like Touch.

  79. I guess I’m one of the few people that actually agree with Scoble.
    Yes, the Zune may have (slightly) better features than the iPod, but without a doubt the “flashier” player is the iPod.
    And while those of us with technical backgrounds might go for the better featured one (though why Microsoft wouldn’t try implementing better web features having Wi-Fi built in from the beginning is escaping me), everyone else is going to go for the flashier one. Forget about saying you’re comparing apples to oranges, what the average person is going to see is an attempt to imitate a 1st-gen iPod vs. the highly touted Touch interface.
    Hell, I’m not an iPod fan myself and I’d still take the Touch over the Zune: built in web browser vs. Wireless Sharing/Sync?

    And that’s why Microsoft is going to lose this battle if they keep being a step behind Apple. They need to come up with a “wow” feature like Touch.

  80. I have no idea why you consider the Zune defensive…Apple, who leads the market has to defend their postion. MS is free to try new things and take chances and go on the offensive. I mean come on? the iPod Touch!?!?! Having to use TWO hands to navigate the UI is not innovation.

  81. I have no idea why you consider the Zune defensive…Apple, who leads the market has to defend their postion. MS is free to try new things and take chances and go on the offensive. I mean come on? the iPod Touch!?!?! Having to use TWO hands to navigate the UI is not innovation.

  82. “Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.”

    I think this is an odd argument, what is Apple’s OS marketshare compared to Windows, it’s what 6%-8% and the rest is Windows?

    Yet, it seems we are constantly hearing from you, that Apple is on the move they are threating MS with all their increased sales of Apple computers and “everyone” is switchig to mac.

    And it seems like you keep saying MS should be worried about that fact, but when it’s the Zune, which is certainly a long ways behind but has made huge steps in chopping down Apples Ipod dominance, then suddenly it’s not a “big deal” because they only have 5% marketshare.

    It seems like a total flip flop of statements simply because it’s a MS product that is behind rather than an Apple product that is behind.

    Hopefully I said that clearly :)

  83. “Zune has, what, around 5% market share with iPod having most of the rest? Damn.”

    I think this is an odd argument, what is Apple’s OS marketshare compared to Windows, it’s what 6%-8% and the rest is Windows?

    Yet, it seems we are constantly hearing from you, that Apple is on the move they are threating MS with all their increased sales of Apple computers and “everyone” is switchig to mac.

    And it seems like you keep saying MS should be worried about that fact, but when it’s the Zune, which is certainly a long ways behind but has made huge steps in chopping down Apples Ipod dominance, then suddenly it’s not a “big deal” because they only have 5% marketshare.

    It seems like a total flip flop of statements simply because it’s a MS product that is behind rather than an Apple product that is behind.

    Hopefully I said that clearly :)

  84. Excellent point Micah. Very well said. The bottom line is: Apple makes toys, MS software runs the world. Spin that fanboys.

  85. Excellent point Micah. Very well said. The bottom line is: Apple makes toys, MS software runs the world. Spin that fanboys.

  86. I’ve done some serious soul searching about the Zune and the Ipod, and this is why I’m choosing to hold out.

    1) The Ipod Touch screwed it all up. Now I absolutely need my mp3 player to have a web browser built in. Bye-bye Zune. And no, the fm tuner, wireless sharing (aka viral marketing ploy), and wireless sync don’t make up for a browser.

    2) To Ipod, who wants to spend $300+ dollars for a video/mp3/browser that can’t even store their entire mp3 collection? This rules out the Ipod Touch with its current weak 8 and 16GB models.

    3) What if I have a change of heart (or pocketbook) and decide I don’t need a browser. Then I’m really just comparing the Ipod classic to the Zune. They both have 80gb models for $250. Which is better? Honestly, it’s a close battle, but I have to go Ipod. It’s a nicer interface, a slicker screen, and it doesn’t support Microsoft’s questionable ethical history (guilty of abusing their monopoly, software piracy, antitrust, falsifying evidence, pushing their sorry OOXML standard, and perhaps worst of all, font plaigerism!). And trust me, I’m not an Apple lover and a Microsoft hater. Apple is a business, they’re out to make money. They’re definately riding the hype to the bank. They’re not afraid of a little gauge.

    So that’s my take. If Apple can create an Ipod Touch with a 30+GB hard drive for $300 bucks, I’m in. If Zune changes shape, gets a pretty ‘lil browser goin and a decent hard drive, I’ll go for it.

    P.S. The Iphone is cool, but still overpriced and not quite containing the hard-drive I need.

  87. I’ve done some serious soul searching about the Zune and the Ipod, and this is why I’m choosing to hold out.

    1) The Ipod Touch screwed it all up. Now I absolutely need my mp3 player to have a web browser built in. Bye-bye Zune. And no, the fm tuner, wireless sharing (aka viral marketing ploy), and wireless sync don’t make up for a browser.

    2) To Ipod, who wants to spend $300+ dollars for a video/mp3/browser that can’t even store their entire mp3 collection? This rules out the Ipod Touch with its current weak 8 and 16GB models.

    3) What if I have a change of heart (or pocketbook) and decide I don’t need a browser. Then I’m really just comparing the Ipod classic to the Zune. They both have 80gb models for $250. Which is better? Honestly, it’s a close battle, but I have to go Ipod. It’s a nicer interface, a slicker screen, and it doesn’t support Microsoft’s questionable ethical history (guilty of abusing their monopoly, software piracy, antitrust, falsifying evidence, pushing their sorry OOXML standard, and perhaps worst of all, font plaigerism!). And trust me, I’m not an Apple lover and a Microsoft hater. Apple is a business, they’re out to make money. They’re definately riding the hype to the bank. They’re not afraid of a little gauge.

    So that’s my take. If Apple can create an Ipod Touch with a 30+GB hard drive for $300 bucks, I’m in. If Zune changes shape, gets a pretty ‘lil browser goin and a decent hard drive, I’ll go for it.

    P.S. The Iphone is cool, but still overpriced and not quite containing the hard-drive I need.

  88. It’s the sound I care about most on my MP3 player, not nifty touchscreens or YouTube- I can see that on my PC. I just returned a Nano because of its flat, muted sound quality, but even without an EQ I can hear a world of difference with the same headphones on my Zune. Apple can offer me all the cool capabilities and features it wants, but until they upgrade the sub-standard sound on their MP3s and phones, I won’t be buying any of their portables.

  89. It’s the sound I care about most on my MP3 player, not nifty touchscreens or YouTube- I can see that on my PC. I just returned a Nano because of its flat, muted sound quality, but even without an EQ I can hear a world of difference with the same headphones on my Zune. Apple can offer me all the cool capabilities and features it wants, but until they upgrade the sub-standard sound on their MP3s and phones, I won’t be buying any of their portables.