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Why Microsoft's Zune Scares Apple to the Core 574

Posted by Zonk
from the core-apple-get-it-wakka-wakka dept.
BoredStiff writes "Computerworld has an article examining Microsoft's plans to launch a competitor to the Apple iPod, the wireless media player called Zune. The article lists five reasons why Apple may fear the Zune, and why it won't be as easily smacked down as the dozens of mp3 players before it have been. The Zune isn't just a music player, the article argues. Think of it as a portable, wireless, hardware version of MySpace. With the Zune, Microsoft is trying to launch a consumer media 'perfect storm.'" From the article: "Microsoft will make the movement of media between Windows, Soapbox and the Zune natural and seamless. The Zune interface is just like a miniature version of the Windows Media Center user interface and is very similar to some elements of Vista. Apple fans are overconfident in the iPod because Apple once commanded 92% of music player market share, a number that has since fallen to around 70%. About 30 million people own iPods. But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple's roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people. The company expects to have 200 million Vista users within two years."
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Why Microsoft's Zune Scares Apple to the Core

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  • by nizo (81281) * on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#16250413) Homepage Journal

    Best of all, Zunes will be able to connect to one another wirelessly, letting people share songs (as well as playlists and .jpg photos) with up to four other simultaneous Zune users within Wi-Fi range. Recipients of these shared songs will be able to play them three times for up to three days free, after which they'll have to pay to listen. Songs received wirelessly can't be shared.


    While playing songs you got from other Zune users may be time limited, my guess is that if this is a typical Microsoft product, the goatse image you picked up from simply walking down the street will be nearly impossible to get rid of (both from your brain and your new Zune).

    • Re:Limited playback (Score:5, Informative)

      by sryx (34524) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:16PM (#16250761) Homepage
      You know if you like the music sharing, but hate the DRM, there are other solutions. Check out Radio Mixtape [radiomixtape.com]. You can create play lists from full length MP3 audio files that artists designate (we even have Sub Pop's promotional catalog, something the Zune claims to come pre-loaded with). Mix tapes can be embedded in MySpace profiles as Flash Widgets [myspace.com], or Blogs as JavaScript widgets. [gomixtape.net] Everything is free and information about downloads and sharing are provided back to the artist directly (and all "buy album" links are in direct control of the artists, some link to Amazon [radiomixtape.com], some to thier own label [radiomixtape.com] others even to iTunes [radiomixtape.com]). It's free for artists and free for fans, and it works on absolutely every portable audio player. You don't need to sell your sole to Microsoft just to share good music. -Jason
    • Re:Limited playback (Score:4, Informative)

      by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:14PM (#16251819)
      Apple fans are overconfident in the iPod because Apple once commanded 92% of music player market share, a number that has since fallen to around 70%.


      This is completely false. The author is confusing the iPod market share statistic for hard-drive based players--which is still 90% --and the statistic for all total portable music players, which is 70%. The precise history of the iPod's total market share is 31% in 2004, 65% in 2005, and 74% in 2006. The market was once dominated by flash players, but that was eradicated by the iPod mini. Contrary to the article's claim, the iPod has not lost any market share.

      About 30 million people own iPods. But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple's roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people.

      These have absolutely nothing to do with each other. It doesn't matter that Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market. That hasn't stopped the iPod in the last five years, despite a long series of "PlaysForSure" devices.

      The Zune has the same resolution as the iPod (the Zune's screen is a stretched 320x240), it's bulkier than the iPod, and its clickwheel isn't a clickwheel, so you have to use simple directional push-and-hold buttons to go through your 1,000+ music list.

      This is the latest "iPod killer" article that will be forgotten in a month. How many of these "killers" are we going to hear about before people wise up? Come on, one of the reasons listed in the article is "Zune is actually pretty cool." It's a fluff piece mixed with subjective op-ed from the author.
      • P.S. (Score:3, Interesting)

        I left out another goofy part of the article:

        Even if Apple is able to retain its lead, it could still be hurt -- badly -- by the Zune, which will capture mind share, grab market share and squeeze Apple on pricing.

        Disregarding the premade conclusion here that Zune will mysteriously capture mind share and marketshare, if anybody's doing the price squeezing, it's Apple, whose lowered iPod prices caught Microsoft off guard. Apple has the established relationships with manufacturers and the cheaper contracts as

        • Re:P.S. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:43PM (#16253209)
          I left out another goofy part of the article:

          You forgot another one: the authors persistent claims "Apple is scared" which he sets out as truth when he has absolutely no proof. He thinks they should be scared, fine. Milton thought Lumberg should be afraid he was going to burn the building down, but that doesn't make it so. The author chalks the recent Apple price drop up to Apple fears, but the reality is it was right on schedule, they've been dropping prices regularly when the capacities don't increase. If MS failed to see this coming they've completely failed to do their research.

      • by Miguelito (13307) <mm-slashdotNO@SPAMmiguelito.org> on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:43PM (#16253207) Homepage
        This is the latest "iPod killer" article that will be forgotten in a month. How many of these "killers" are we going to hear about before people wise up?

        Nothing will be an "iPod killer" until it's as simple to use and straightforward as the iPod is. By that, I mean that even the average parents and grandparents can (and do) use them. Yes, my parents each have their own iPod, my grandparents share one... they love them, and use them all the time without problems. The only other semi-complicated device to come out like this that I can say the same for is Tivo.

        Too many people, especially tech types, don't seem to get that it's the simplicity and intuitiveness of the iPod that has made it such a success. Yeah sure, most of us would love to have one device that does it all, but non technical people are too confused by things that try to do that. They want simple, and they want it done well. That's what Apple tapped into.

        Who knows? Maybe Zune will be that easy to use. But IME, the addition of all the extra stuff they're trying to push with the Zune will get in the way and confuse the moms, dads and grandparents, and will keep it from becoming as huge as iPods are.

        Oh, and yes, my dad even rips DVDs for his iPod. Which shocked even me.. all I had to do was point him to handbrake. He's otherwise completely clueless with computers (which is really sad considering he's worked with PBX phone systems his whole life and can do stuff on those blindfolded).
      • by twofidyKidd (615722) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:49PM (#16253281)
        "These have absolutely nothing to do with each other. It doesn't matter that Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market. That hasn't stopped the iPod in the last five years, despite a long series of "PlaysForSure" devices."

        I completely agree with this. That would be like saying that no one should be using Adobe's Photoshop because Windows ships with MS Paint.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        It's a fluff piece mixed with subjective op-ed from the author.

        To me it reads more like astroturf from a company desperately trying to generate some hype for a product which has received a "ho hum" response in the marketplace.

        Have a look around the traps - all the usual media whores are touting the "social and viral" benefits of the Zune, tenuously linking it to MySpace, YouTube etc. It's being pushed heavily in the blogosphere as well.

        So guys, how does it feel to be part of a marketing exercise?

    • by spideyct (250045) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:34PM (#16252181)
      The last sentence is the key (to the Zune's loss of potential).

      If songs received wireless cannot be shared, then it cannot be viral. That is a huge limitation that will bite them.

      If it really were viral, it would have some tremendous potential to change the music scene. A small, unknown band that has a rabid fanbase could start sharing their songs. If people like it, they would share it with their friends, etc. A previously unknown band could suddenly be a hit (assuming the music was good enough to spread) and be on everyone's music list.
      Requiring people at each level to buy the song before they can share it will severely suppress the spreading of new and interesting music.
  • by Jhon (241832) * on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#16250415) Homepage Journal
    Think of it as a portable, wireless, hardware version of MySpace.
    Forget Apple -- this is reason enough for Zune to scare ME to the core!
  • Zune? Puh-leeze. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WilliamSChips (793741) <(full.infinity) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:59PM (#16250449) Journal
    All it has going for it over the iPod(except the lovely brown color!) is the filesharing thing, which not only is poorly concieved [slashdot.org] to begin with, is locked down with overrestrictive DRM and won't even be any useful until there's enough people with the Zune.
    • by vought (160908) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:47PM (#16251343)
      Yes, and TFA fail to mention the most important aspect of this "scaring Apple" scenario:

      People must actually want these features in order to ante up for the Zune "experience".

      IMHO, people don't want this kind of superintegrated media/software/myspace connection. Look at how well AMP'D mobile and the similar "lifestyle" phones are doing - they measure success in the hundreds of customers. ESPN Mobile just went down the toilet for good.

      If Microsoft's past performance has been any indication, this attempt at lifestyle superintegration will be a mess - a security and synchronization headache that even for the few interested in such an experience, will quickly become more trouble than it's worth.

      Apple wins because the iPod does a few things very well, looking the best while it does it. Zune, in attempting to be all things to all people, misses the point; there are actually very few people who want anything to do everything.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flooey (695860)
        Apple wins because the iPod does a few things very well, looking the best while it does it. Zune, in attempting to be all things to all people, misses the point; there are actually very few people who want anything to do everything.

        Exactly. I remember a study that was done about music players a while back, and in terms of functionality (ie, not "style"), it found that basically only three things mattered to people: physical size, capacity, and battery life. Take a look at what Apple is advertising on
      • by twofidyKidd (615722) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:38PM (#16253157)
        Microsoft needs to read a little book by Clay Christensen called "The Innovator's Dilemma." In it, the author says people often "hire" things to do specific jobs. I sat in on a live discussion once where he used the example of a chocolate shake, and how the company selling a particular shake tried to improve the product's sales by trying to improve the overall quality and experience. It didn't have any impact on sales until they examined why people bought it in the first place. They discovered that people bought shakes often in the morning to give them something to sip on for the long commute into work. It beat out other products (muffins, coffee, fruit, etc.) because of the very specific job that people wanted it to serve: easy, no-mess, lengthy consuming time, interesting, etc.

        When I think of the Zune, I imagine how it seems to try to be so many things at once, when the reality is that people probably want a much simpler product to just provide music as a background to doing other things, like working out, grocery shopping, studying, etc. Obviously, I'm using the college-kid as an example market, but you have to consider that they are by no means a trivial market. I can't see "Zune Parties" going on in the dorms where kids are swapping songs on their Zunes. Anywho, it's for this reason that I believe that there's too much utility built into the zune that doesn't provide any remarkable value to the marketplace, and when you put it up against the iPod, both as a fashion piece and as a utility for listening to music, the Zune still has a lot of ground to cover against the iPod.

        If you ask me, they should have started by making it smaller, with less features, and as a fashionable alterative to the iPod.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spideyct (250045)
      Wait, are you linking to a Slashdot conspiracy theory (the text you linked to says "knowing Microsoft, it will PROBABLY..." as your supporting evidence for being poorly conceived?

  • They might have my interest if there was an AM tuner alongside the FM one. Why would Microsoft in its infinite wisdom decide "let's put a RADIO in it" and only end up including half a radio? As I don't care for an FM tuner (I don't get music from the radio anymore), the iPod comes out looking good here.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by WilliamSChips (793741)
      There are technical reasons that an AM radio can't be done--specifically, it has to have a much larger antenna.
      • by krell (896769) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:05PM (#16250549) Journal
        "There are technical reasons that an AM radio can't be done--specifically, it has to have a much larger antenna."

        I have a shortwave radio that is smaller than any iPod except for the Nano (and Shuffle). Along with the many bands it receives, it gets AM. Almost all of the case is taken up by the speaker, the visual tuning hardware, and the batteries. I have not opened it up, but I am guessing that the antenna hardware is smaller than a cap to a ball-point pen. Time to turn off the ol Philco in the wooden case. News in from Tokyo: there are miniature AM radios now.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        You can use a coil for an am antenna so it could be possible.
        A more likely reason is interference.
        AM will pickup just about every signal that the zune makes and dump it right through the headphones.

        Take an old PC and put an AM radio inside the case sometime. Odds are pretty good that you will pick up a lot of interference.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by TeknoHog (164938)
          Take an old PC and put an AM radio inside the case sometime. Odds are pretty good that you will pick up a lot of interference.
          Odds are that the only kind of music you can receive inside a Faraday Cage is John Cage ;)
    • by gstoddart (321705)
      They might have my interest if there was an AM tuner alongside the FM one.

      What is this AM of which you speak? ;-)
    • They might have my interest if there was an AM tuner alongside the FM one. Why would Microsoft in its infinite wisdom decide "let's put a RADIO in it" and only end up including half a radio?

      Because it is FM sound quality thats useful for music.The sound quality of music on AM is very inferior compared to that on FM .

    • by RonnyJ (651856)
      Unfortunately, I think the demand for an AM tuner isn't enough to justify it's inclusion as standard (although it's certainly possible).

      Shame though, as that would be the one additional feature I'd love.
  • Zune? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crazyjeremy (857410) * on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:59PM (#16250459) Homepage Journal
    What will ZUNE do that the Pocket PC / Windows Mobile platform cannot do? There are Windows Mobile devices out now for little more than $200 with built-in wifi. They ALL have QVGA screen or better, except for a few 240x240 square screens on some phones. Some are cheaper than the Zune!

    Why would Microsoft all but stop its interest in the pocket computing field that is totally capable of everything Zune can do, then build an entirely new device on a new platform? The only thing todays Pocket PC's don't have that Zune does have is the new software and a large harddrive. How hard could it be for M$ to add some software and bigger harddrive support to the already wonderful existing line of Pocket PC's? Plus, Pocket PC's can even have VGA Screens!

    Forget the Zune and it's "consumer media 'perfect storm'". Microsoft is recreating the wheel again just to try to squash competition. With it's interest on market share instead of true market need, this product will not live up to their expectations. Apple isn't the best out there. But they lead the market because they simply give a product that fills most consumer needs.
    • Re:Zune? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by imperialstormtrooper (758868) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:13PM (#16250701)
      One of the main reasons everyone says the iPod is as popular as it is that it "just works"..while the pocket pc can do everything that te Zune can do, it isn't as simple to use. Microsoft is trying to get the simple to use thing going with the Zune... I do wish they slap an 80gig hard drive in my xv6700 though... I do see your point..
  • MySpace? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:00PM (#16250463)
    I don't know that that's really what they want, although supposedly that's what they're shooting for. MySpace had it's 15 seconds, and IMO is heading out the door. I don't know that you'd want to take a brand new, unbranded product and slap a "It's like MySpace, only you carry it WITH YOU!" label on it.

    If MS really wants to scare Apple, they need to come out with a way to make it cooler than Apple's product. MySpace ain't it.
    • by ericdano (113424)
      Yeah. That shooting yesterday was MySpace related. The guy researched his victims on there.

      MySpace is a total cesspool. It reminds me when everyone had to have a Domain name and a webpage.

      I don't think Microsoft is going to win on this. Apple is easily 3 steps ahead of Microsoft, they just have not thought people would want or use this. And they are right. The idea of "beaming" my songs to someone is like beaming contact information on Palm handhelds. Yeah, neat, but not really all that useful.

      What would be
    • by abigor (540274)
      "MySpace had it's 15 seconds, and IMO is heading out the door."

      Why on earth would you say that? Do you have any stats to back that up? Everything I've seen shows the site's growth accelerating. It's become more or less the official area for numerous bands, for example.

      Cringely's article this week has a section on the Zune, and why it's actually not competing with the iPod.
      • "MySpace had it's 15 seconds, and IMO is heading out the door."

        Why on earth would you say that?

        It's called wishful thinking. Myspace - AOL without the charm.
  • people somehow rooting for Microsoft. When you're that big, do you really need a fan club on slashdot?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by berenelen (797823)
      A Slashdot fan club for Microsoft would be an amazing sign. Slashdotters have never ever EVER been content with... anything.
  • Well, with the brown version it's certainly got the 'ugly colour scheme' aspect of MySpace down perfectly!

    There's one major difference between Zune and MySpace, though. MySpace's underlying 'philosophy' is basically "Check out what I'm into!" Zune's is "Buy what I'm into... from a major corporation!"
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:03PM (#16250511) Homepage
    The Zune isn't just a music player, the article argues. Think of it as a portable, wireless, hardware version of MySpace.

    You mean it looks like crap and is completely inane? I'll pass, thanks.
  • by sycodon (149926) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:03PM (#16250513)
    So I guess Apple will again be out of business by the end of the year. I bet they get tired of packing and unpacking.
    • Re:Out Of Business (Score:5, Informative)

      by protohiro1 (590732) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:15PM (#16251825) Homepage Journal
      This author is another cringely as far as I can tell. From his web site on May 13, 2003 [mikeslist.com]:
      Microsoft will cope with the problem the same way it always does: It will "embrace and replace." The company will come out with its own distribution of Linux within the next three years...Microsoft Linux will feature proprietary "enhancements" that make it better than other versions of Linux. This incompatibility on the one hand and feature superiority on the other will reproduce the current difficult choice between Linux and Windows Server...
      So I would take what he says with a grain of salt....
  • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:03PM (#16250515) Homepage

    I think the article is somewhat too nice towards the Zune, eg they do not mention the problem that even your own unprotected recordings will be forced into a DRM wrapper, preventing them to be shared after three days. That might even make it a breach of license agreement for creative commons licensed music, because they demand that if you give a track to someone else, that person has to be able to pass it on, impossible with the Zune.

    But more interesting the five points why Apple should be scared:

    1. Microsoft is hatching a consumer media "perfect storm."

    The argument is that Microsoft will leverage any installed base they have (Windows, Xbox, Soapbox) and due to a similarity with the Windows Media Center user interface and Vista will have a strategic advantage. Also their 90% share in operating systems vs 5% for Apple [I think it's even less than that] 2. The Zune is social and viral.

    The article claims that the world has changed since the introduction of the iPod, obligatory citing anything with the Web 2.0 label as social and viral and therefore claiming a demand by todays youth to be able to share immediately anything, making Zune's WiFi hip and the iPod old fashioned.

    I guess that is the only real argument here, but nothing new. Microsoft failed to leverage their installed base before, eg with Smartphones, where they failed miserably even though the syncing with Outlook is so important. And the 5% of Apples market share does not seem to be a problem, the majority of iPod buyers already use it with windows

    Maybe, but I doubt it. Let's remember that P2P was big long before the iPod and iTMS, they introduced a business model that got accepted by people that were used to get everything for free due to it's ease of use. Due to Zune's DRM restrictions there will be no widespread sharing on school yards, so even if the world would demand to return to the early Napster days, the Zune will not allow this.

    3. Zune may have more programming.

    The pick on Apple launching with videos only from Disney as a sign that Microsoft has more support from the movie industry. But as was discussed earlier today on slashdot [slashdot.org], this may be simply due to Walmart and soon be a problem of the past. Even worse, if Apple made a deal with Walmart, they might try to push the Zune out.

    Concerning other media formats like music and TV shows, as far as I understand basically everybody is currently trying to make deals with Apple as fast as possible to take their share of the cake.

    4. Zune's screen is better for movies.

    No doubt, that is true, and it will play into Microsoft's hands. There have been a lot of other media players already featuring larger screens, so this alone does not seem to be a reason for customers to switch. But more important might be all the signs indicating that Apple already has a full screen video iPod in the pipeline (their patents for the virtual scroll wheel), so this advantage for Microsoft might soon be gone.

    5. Zune is actually pretty cool.

    This boils down to taste, and from what I've read in a lot of forums (with a lot of not Apple friendly users), the design, color, DRM are not as cool as computerworld claims. We shall see.

    • To look beyond the marketing FUD, I hope that the author is right and that the Zune does scare Apple. If Apple is scared then they may just dip into the candy box to add some new treats to the IPOD. I have no doubt that every feature on Zune has been discussed, designed and discarded by Apple already. I particularly like that Zune is taking playback on external devices (ie TV) seriously. We've almost arrived at my dream device now. When I can connect with my portable device over a remote wireless netwo
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cybrex (156654)
        While it's not wireless, the current iPod dock includes S-Video and mini stereo jacks on the back and an IR receiver on the front, and comes with an IR remote control. There are a couple of TV shows that I get off of the iTunes store, as well as videos that I've imported into iTunes from other sources. To watch them on our TV I skip the computer entirely. I just dock the iPod and watch. I only watch a few shows, so it's actually cheaper for me to buy individual episodes than to pay for cable TV.

        The connecti
    • The argument is that Microsoft will leverage any installed base they have (Windows, Xbox, Soapbox) and due to a similarity with the Windows Media Center user interface and Vista will have a strategic advantage. Also their 90% share in operating systems vs 5% for Apple

      Yeah, this was definitely a "WTF?" moment for me. "Microsoft will take over a new market because they already dominate an old market." In that case, shouldn't Apple have been relegated to boutique status, since they only have a tiny share of

  • Antitrust ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pop69 (700500)

    About 30 million people own iPods. But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple's roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people. The company expects to have 200 million Vista users within two years."

    And therein lies the reason that Microsoft have already found themselves in front of courts for antitrust infractions.

    Illegally using a monopoly position to expand into other markets.

    Wonder if anybody will do anything about it this time ?

    • Illegally using a monopoly position to expand into other markets.

      What, precisely, is illegal about this? It would be illegal if they decided to cripple iTunes/iPod on Vista. Simply making a music player that is designed to work well with their OS is not illegal at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        What, precisely, is illegal about this?

        Leveraging a monopoly to gain market share in another market is illegal. In this case, MS has bundled their software music player with Windows, which is illegal in and of itself. That player plays a DRM-ladem music format owned by Microsoft. If their hardware and software players play it and that ability is not offered to all other software player and hardware player manufacturers, free of charge, then that too is illegal.

        • Re:Antitrust ? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:05PM (#16252715)

          Leveraging a monopoly to gain market share in another market is illegal. In this case, MS has bundled their software music player with Windows, which is illegal in and of itself.

          Not at all. You're probably confused with the Netscape case - but there, they strongarmed OEMs to *not* include Netscape. That's the "leverage" part. Simply competing in multiple markets, when you have a monopoly in one, is absolutely not illegal. It's not illegal for those products to work well together to the point that they make a compelling combination either. That's fair competition, doing something better than someone else.

          Now, if they start forcing OEMs to include their player and not iTunes (as if any OEMs included iTunes now), that would be illegal. Hacking windows to make iTunes and iPods incompatible would be illegal. Making music software is *not* illegal, nor is including it in Windows free of charge.

          If their hardware and software players play it and that ability is not offered to all other software player and hardware player manufacturers, free of charge, then that too is illegal.

          No, it's not, especially since MS won't have a monopoly in music players.

    • "Illegally using a monopoly position to expand into other markets."

      Illegal because...?
    • by 0racle (667029) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:32PM (#16251073)
      How dare they offer new products!
  • by in2mind (988476) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:05PM (#16250537) Homepage
    Apple fans are overconfident in the iPod because Apple once commanded 92% of music player market share, a number that has since fallen to around 70%.

    About 30 million people own iPods. But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple's roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people. The company expects to have 200 million Vista users within two years.

    They talk as if Microsoft having 90% of worldwide OS market is the reason why Zune beats iPod.But does it matter much? iPod has 70% of the mp3 market anyway even without the 90% OS share that microsoft enjoys.

    Why should OS mkt share matter to MP3 player mkt share,unless microsoft does something to hamper the working of iPod on its OS - something it hasnt done till now.

    • "Why should OS mkt share matter to MP3 player mkt"

      Are you sure iPod has 70% of the mp3 market? Or are most users using it to play proprietary iTunes files? With the ZUNE for sure, the main thing Microsoft is pushing it for is NOT mp3 files, but MS's own DRM formatted files.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Murphy Murph (833008)

      They talk as if Microsoft having 90% of worldwide OS market is the reason why Zune beats iPod.But does it matter much? iPod has 70% of the mp3 market anyway even without the 90% OS share that microsoft enjoys

      I think you are underestimating what Microsoft can do with that 90% (desktop) OS market share.
      If Apple was able to capture 70% of the digital audio player market by leveraging their 5% OS market share, by my calculations Microsoft should be able to capture 1260% of all DAP sales within five years.

  • I'd say the only thing about the Zune that should scare Apple is that the Zune can be integrated very tightly with the most popular operating system on the planet.

    I doubt the user experience will be better than the iPod though... so hopefully the quality of the iPod set up will win out over the coercion behind the Zune.

    Of course this doesn't affect those of us who don't use Windows.
  • FTFA: More importantly, it can be turned sideways for a wide-screen movie experience, which is vastly superior to watching movies on an iPod.

    You can just turn screens sideways for wide-screen movie experience? Why didn't anyone tell me?! Boy did I ever get snookered when I bought my widescreen HDTV. I could have just turned my old TV sideways!

    -- Cameron
    • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      I think you forgot the part that the TV wouldn't automatically switch to widescreen view just by turning it over that way. The Zune is supposed to do just that.
  • It's always startling when I see the supposedly huge numbers trotted out by industry, then I think about the size of the total population, and I think...pfui! Like platinum records in the US represent sales of 1 million albums. Big deal - 1/300th of the U.S. population bought your album! Whoopee! *Everyone* loves you, don't they?

    Or these numbers for Microsoft. So the worldwide operating system market is 300 million copies? Holy crap! Given work computers and all, we're talking about only 200 million peop
  • wireless fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:06PM (#16250565) Homepage Journal
    My guess is that the success of the "Zune" (can someone come up with a funny wordplay on this, please?) depends mainly on how quickly the public learns that the much-hyped "wireless sharing" is in fact so crippled that it's almost worthless.

    You see, the whole "storm" and "viral marketing" thing is dead in the waters already because a song received wireless can't be retransmitted. In other words: Actual exchanges will be very limited to single songs and local-only. No "spreading". Well, not for songs. I'd be very surprised if it takes more than a month for the first wireless Zune virus to appear.
    • can someone come up with a funny wordplay on this, please?

      Microsoft may not be as in Zune with the market as they think. :)

      People may just tend to Zune them out.

      Oh, wait, you said funny. Sorry. :(

      Too little, too Zune.

      Crap, that one doesn't even work.

    • by nizo (81281) *
      "Zune" (can someone come up with a funny wordplay on this, please?)


      All your Zune belong to US!

    • So wait, a device that tries to connect to other devices and push down crap files that melt down after three days (regardless of their license!) isn't a virus already?

      Damn. Viruses that affect viruses. I'm waiting for something like the Anti-Santy worm to get around and start 'fixing' Zunes.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:26PM (#16250919) Homepage
      In response to your request for wordplays:

      That's no Zune... it's a Play Station.

      There is no spoon. There is only Zune.

      and finally,
      Windows Vista will be out real Zune now.

      Thank you, thank you I'll be here all week.
  • First of all if Vista is even out by their predicted date I'll be surprised. But then what makes them think they'll trick 200 Million people into "upgrading" from XP Home or Media Center, when most peoples' PCs are already adaquate for the tasks they are doing. Are people really going to be such raging computer whores to buy that much Vista Microsoft DRM junk in such a short time period? I mean it's not exactly the leap from 2000 to XP even.
  • A Shorter Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by obender (546976) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:10PM (#16250641)
    From TFA:

    Mike Elgan is a technology writer and former editor of Windows Magazine.

  • Now, just checking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Silent sound (960334) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:13PM (#16250707)
    Is Apple, in fact, scared of the Zune?

    Or do Microsoft (and Microsoft Blog Relations reps like Zonk) simply wish Apple was scared?

    I note that integrating wifi into a music player is a really pretty good idea. I also note it isn't what Microsoft's done here. All they seem to have done is create a feeble, heavily restrictive music player equivalent of the DS's "pictochat" feature-- which, as any DS owner will tell you, never, ever, ever winds up getting used. If this incredibly limited player-to-player transfer feature is all the Zune has to differentiate itself from the rest of the crowd of mp3 players right now-- and to judge from the lack of even attempted hype over other features, it apparently is-- Microsoft is in big trouble here.
  • Huh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:15PM (#16250731)

    Think of it as a portable, wireless, hardware version of MySpace.

    Well, that doesn't fill me with the "I must go out and get one right now" feeling so much as a "Run screaming with vengance into the night to fomemt up counter-revolutionary terror" feeling.

    It could just be me, though.

  • I read they are going to be taking a loss [informationweek.com] on every Zune out there. Typical Microsoft. They have enough money where they can undercut by selling at a loss. Then when they get a monopoly position, they can charge whatever they want.

    So much for honest competition.

  • ...you find it causes rips in the fabric itself by applying viral DRM.
  • by Frag-A-Muffin (5490) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:18PM (#16250791) Homepage
    Thought I'd like to point out that Zune probably isn't going to "steal" any iPod customers away. They may be able to get some people that are about to enter the DAP market, but not the ones that are already invested in iPods. The biggest reason, music collection and familiarity with iTunes. iPods don't do so well because of iPods. iPods do so well because of iTunes. You underestimate the ease of use of iTunes for people that are not so computer savvy. Do you honestly think they're going to be able to convert their iTunes collections over to the Zune format? (I believe M$ is offering up some tool to rip off the DRM from iTunes and apply their own DRM. Don't quote me on that. ... And ummm ... wouldn't that be a violation of the DMCA? :) But that's for another day)

    I don't personally use any of these music services. I use my treo600 for music still, cuz it's more than enough for me. However, I do have a bunch of non-computer people, and they will not budge from their iTunes addiction. They even buy music off of it.

    I had this one friend, we're talking about some song, and she said "Yah .. I just *downloaded* it off iTunes" .. I was like, "downloaded eh? don't you mean, *bought*" .. she didn't understand the difference? :) She obviously doesn't know how to pir8 things, but this is GOOD. It helps legitimize the electronic distribution of music! I freely admit downloading songs all the time. In fact, I have 5 or so CDs on my bookshelf that are UNOPENED, because I've already downloaded the album. I still support the artists by purchasing, and I like to have a hardcopy of it. But no one's gonna stop me from using it the way i want to use it. (You hear me RIAA?)

    Anyways, yah, my point was, iTunes users are entrenched, and it's a very tough sell to try to switch them. And honestly, there's no feature in the Zune that really is worth making that big switch.

    Side note: I'm betting that's why Apple didn't rush out the widescreen iPod video player. They didn't need to. :) The zune doesn't have much to compete with. However, I am betting they release it in '07, just after the zune launches to quiet them once and for all :) Apple's got some crazy ass distribution and integration going on with their iTunes/iPods/and soon to be released iTV!

    Exciting times!

  • Too Late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Perl-Pusher (555592) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:21PM (#16250833)
    About 30 million people own iPods.

    I have purchased 3 iPods, one for me and the other two for my daughters. I have a huge mp3 collection, but I have also spent at least $300 on the iTunes music store. My Daughters have purchased much more than that. Why would I want to buy another almost $300 music player and re-purchase all those tunes? When my iPod dies, I'll buy the next ipod, the one with the features apple has added to stay competitive with microsoft.

    By the way will you be able to move the music from one device to another and burn an unlimited number of CD's? My music is on DVDs, my laptop, my desktop and my iPod. On iTunes all you have to do is change the playlist. In my experience with windows media formats they aren't nearly as unobtrusive as AAC. I can't see apple losing their portable music throne until someone produces a player that is vastly cheaper and doesn't get in the way of reasonable fair use. Apple's advantage is really theirs to lose. But they would have to read from Sony's playbook to do that. Poor quality, lack of features, high prices and restrictive DRM would do it. But I don't see apple commiting suicide anytime soon.

  • mySpace doesn't come with a $249 price tag to join the club.
  • by corby (56462) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:43PM (#16251285)
    1) Zune will not play back PlaysForSure media.

    Rather than build on the 20%+ marketshare of consumers that have PlaysForSure-compatible devices, Microsoft has decided to claw their way back up from a zero percent market share by refusing to implement their own standards.

    It boggles the mind. Even if they insist on introducing their own Super-Zune DRM for this device, what reason, technical or commercial, could they possibly have for not playing back PlaysForSure media as well?

    There is going to be a great deal of consumer confusion and backlash when people find out that the Microsoft-DRM music they have purchased won't play back on their Microsoft Zune device. Especially after Microsoft spent all this time assuring people that they can just buy PlaysForSure, and not have to worry about confusing codec-DRM issues.
  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:46PM (#16251339) Homepage Journal
    I sold my iPod 4G over a year ago due to disuse since I work at home and don't get out much except for meetings or for nightlife, and an iPod is useless in a restaurant or a club.

    Anyway, I was looking into getting a 6G in the next week or two and read up on Zune.
    I had to say that even though it's a non-starter because it's PC only and wont work with iTunes or the iTunes music store, I found it very compelling.

    First off, it has a big screen.
    This is huge! One of my gripes and the reason why I never went in for the 5 or 6G with the photos and video stuff is because the screen is so frakkin tiny.
    I mean WTF? How could Apple, the kings of quality UI think that was sufficient? I know I'm not the only one, either. Remember the fake iPod mockups we saw online claming to be the 6G iPod, half of them showed a vastly increased screen size. Apple failed to significantly alter the display, ignoring the obvious flaw.

    Wireless!
    I can't tell you how annoying I always found it to have to take my iPod out of it's cradle that was jacked into my Home Theatre and have the music stop just so I could add some tracks/playlists to my iPod. With Apple having Airport/Airtunes and bluetooth it just seemed logical to converge that with iPod.
    Instead, Apple decided to go the cheap route and not include that sort of functionality. I mean, imagine a wifi or bt enabled iPod... sharing photos and files with other iPod users or those with BT enabled cellphones/handhelds/laptops. You'd think Apple would have seen the value in that.

    So it's good to see MS coming out with a strong offering in the MP3 player market. Apple needs a good kick in the pants to wake them up from their warm after sex glow they've had since taking the market by storm.

    • by norminator (784674) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:59PM (#16251571)
      First off, it has a big screen. This is huge! One of my gripes and the reason why I never went in for the 5 or 6G with the photos and video stuff is because the screen is so frakkin tiny. I mean WTF? How could Apple, the kings of quality UI think that was sufficient? I know I'm not the only one, either. Remember the fake iPod mockups we saw online claming to be the 6G iPod, half of them showed a vastly increased screen size. Apple failed to significantly alter the display, ignoring the obvious flaw.

      The tiny screen was sufficient... for a music player. No need to have a huge, battery-sucking screen to see the currently playing track information. The 5G (There is no 6G yet, the recent Apple anouncements were for minor revisions to the 5G, a la 5.5G) is an iPod with video capabilities, but as the rumor sites have been spouting for months now, the "True Video iPod" is still coming around the corner. Battery life, I believe was one of the major issues with it, and I'm sure some of the improvements that have gone into that found the way into the 5.5G. There will be a bigger screen, it was in the works long before the Zune nonsense was a rumor.

      Wireless!
      I can't tell you how annoying I always found it to have to take my iPod out of it's cradle that was jacked into my Home Theatre and have the music stop just so I could add some tracks/playlists to my iPod. With Apple having Airport/Airtunes and bluetooth it just seemed logical to converge that with iPod. Instead, Apple decided to go the cheap route and not include that sort of functionality. I mean, imagine a wifi or bt enabled iPod... sharing photos and files with other iPod users or those with BT enabled cellphones/handhelds/laptops. You'd think Apple would have seen the value in that.

      That's great! It's too bad the Zune isn't using wireless for syncing, or for wireless music shopping. It's only for sharing music between Zunes. Good luck with that one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darth Maul (19860)
      I think you need to read up on both the screen and the wireless functionality, because you'll be sorely disappointed.
    • by michaeldot (751590) on Friday September 29, 2006 @07:49PM (#16253963)

      "First off, it has a big screen.
      This is huge!"

      Sounds like someone has fallen for marketing obfuscation.

      iPod is 2.5", Zune is 3.0", both have a 320x240 resolution. That's a half inch difference and the resolution is the same, so the Zune has chunkier pixels and cannot display any more information.

      Also, neither are optimal for extended movie watching. The PSP's 4" screen at 480x272 (16:9) resolution is about the smallest size that is comfortable for a 2 hour movie (aside from the fact that Sony in their infinitely stupid wisdom have hobbled it regular MPEG-4 movie have to be at 320x240 or 368x208 resolution, making the movie less sharp due to upscaling).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Graymalkin (13732) *
      Wireless...right...

      I think Apple's stuck with wires up to this point because they're pretty foolproof. If you want to hook your iPod up to your TV or computer you just plug it in. There's no waiting while it searches for a connection, there's no selecting some device's name, there's not even really much thought behind it. Anyone can plug something in. It's also much higher bandwidth and more reliable than pretty much any wireless system you're going to find. Bluetooth is horrifically slow for transfering la
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:56PM (#16251509)
    Apple fans are overconfident in the iPod because Apple once commanded 92% of music player market share, a number that has since fallen to around 70%. About 30 million people own iPods. But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple's roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people. The company expects to have 200 million Vista users within two years.

    Erm, excuse me, it's just me or this "reasoning" has, well, about nothing close to even start to convince me about anything at all ? This just smells so typical: we make a colution, then we try to create a problem for it, and try to convince the people that they have the problem so they will want our solution for it. And the main arguments are that a. the other major player's fans are overconfident b. they have many apples [ :) ] but we have way too many oranges c. our one will be the winner since so many people use our other product ? This is stupid. And I won't even go into detailing the really bad drm-infecting behaviour of this world-conquering new MS player since we have already talked and read about that one for a while now.

    It's so simple: if some player is really better than some other, people will buy it. Not because they are some not yet existant hypothetical Vista users, and not because they are overconfident in anything. But, if it will suck, then it will fail.

    One more thing, I'd really like to see a context like: try to guess which company's product is a text about, even if it doesn't directly mention the company. Too bad everyone will guess MS right all the time.

  • A Modest Proposal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jschmerge (228731) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:16PM (#16251865)

    I think everyone here at Slashdot recognizes the dangers that these new DRM-infested devices are introducing into modern culture, and I think we can all agree that we would prefer companies to stop producing products that restrict our freedom.

    Imagine what would happen if a company produced a portable MP3 and video player, similar to the Zune, that had P2P WiFi-connectivity, a BitTorrent client and possibly a scaled-down version of the Democracy Player [getdemocracy.com]. This might just cause the RIAA and MPAA to lose the ability to monitor file sharing and make it impossible to stop (unless the RIAA hires a bunch of thugs to sit in every subway car and bus across the country).

    I call on us to figure out how to produce such a device. We need to send a message to companies like Apple, Microsoft and Sony that we will not accept devices broken by DRM.

    Is anyone out there interested in helping to start a project to build and open-source piece of hardware to accomplish this?

  • by kalidasa (577403) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:53PM (#16252501) Journal
    Microsoft!!! The first thing that will happen is some clueless parent will buy his or her kid a Zune for Christmas to replace an overstuffed iPod, and after an hour or two of trying to get the kid's DRMed iTunes music to play on the thing, it will be "what the hell good is this?!!!" Rather like trying to install those Word for Windows floppies from work on your brand new Mac back in the early 1990s.
  • by aJester (954798) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:52PM (#16253303)
    Anyone notice how MANY times the writer references MySpace?

    He is trying to RELATE zune to MySpace which has become a tremendous hit among teens and youths. By repeating the references throughout the article, he is making that invisible connection in the reader's subconscious mind.

    This is DEFINITELY a PR piece written by Microsoft PR group.
    I guess this is one of the first salvo, before they launch the product.
    There will be more like it... and we will be inundated with these opinions from these so-called tech gurus....

    After reading a dozen such reviews, the teens will think that zune probably is good.

    Jester
  • by czfqnr (306059) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:10PM (#16255075)
    Um, What is Apple Scared of? And how did this tool of a writer make that determination?
    I fail to see how someone can make a statement about a company's opinion without asking them.

    Perhaps someone should write a counter article about how M$ is scared that Apple
    spent time developing products that people wanted to buy and use.

    I think they might also be a little scared that Apple is selling a quad core workstation
    for less than their nearest competitor.

    Once again, the M$ and ComputerWorld relationship has shown it's true colors.

    I'm getting tired of reading articles from publications that have idiot writers
    that fell in love with Microsoft right out of college (or High School), and
    that their main advertising dollars are tied to products spawned from Microsoft.

    I think Computerworld should consider firing that writer for Marketing for
    a particular company, and providing a one sided biased opinion
    of how a company "feels".

  • what's the big deal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:11PM (#16255397)
    In a year or two, many players will have some form of wireless: Bluetooth, WiFi, and/or wireless USB. Apple will probably include something like it in an upcoming iPod and it will be slightly less crippled, and people will ooh and aah about how "open" Apple is. And then you'll see a huge number of cheap MP3 players with wireless that really do come without all those annoying restrictions, and those will be the good ones to get.

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