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Column: Zune doesn’t have a chance

updated 01:35 pm EDT, Fri October 5, 2007

Column: Zune has no chance

With Microsoft's recent announcement of a second-generation Zune, some are wondering if the new Microsoft PMP has any chance of standing up against the iPod juggernaut. Unfortunately for Redmond, the writing is already on the wall: the Zune is totally incapable of competing with the iPod. Perhaps the most touted feature during the Zune 2.0's unveiling was Microsoft's decision to include a scroll pad that works in a way that's similar to a scroll pad on a laptop. And while this could actually be a viable alternative to the iPod with Video or the Nano, it makes Microsoft's products look outdated when compared to the iPod Touch.

When a person with little knowledge about PMPs (portable music players) goes the store and compares Zune 2.0 and an iPod Touch, it's a safe bet that the iPod will take the day for one reason -- it smacks of ingenuity and cutting edge technology. The Zune, on the other hand, looks like last year's device for almost the same price.

But beyond design differences, I can't understand Microsoft's decision to entirely discard one of the most elementary principles of business and market penetration: when a product is dominating a market, the entrant should compete as well as possible on spec, and beat the leader on price.

When comparing Microsoft's 80GB models with comparably equipped iPods of the same size, you'll find one startling fact: the iPods are $0.99 cheaper. Even worse, the 4GB and 8GB Zune 2.0s cost $149.99 and $199.99, respectively. Compare that to an 8GB flash-based iPod Touch that sports a touch screen and $299 price tag, and you'll find few who wouldn't mind spending the extra $100 for the advanced device.

Unfortunately, the Zune has been stepped over on wireless functionality as well. Microsoft was quick to tout the Zune's enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities and tried to deliver on its promise of making the Zune a better rounded wireless experience. But alas, Zune 2.0 has been trampled by the iPod Touch, which allows access to the iTunes store from any wireless connection, and with the current "three plays and you're done" restrictions on song sharing over Wi-Fi, I can't justify spending hard-earned money on a device that simply can not stand up to the iPod.

In a business where timing is everything and features as well as pricing are the main components of a successful product, Microsoft has dropped the ball and created one of the most reprehensible mistakes in business -- it allowed the market leader beat it on price and spec. If Microsoft wants to enjoy success in the PMP game, it needs to watch Apple, copy its practices, and innovate. If it doesn't, Zune 2.0 will be just another victim of the iPod juggernaut.

Column written by Don Reisinger.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Ikon

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Do they have a blue screen of death?

    I thought that was microsofts' main feature.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    copy yes, innovate, no.

    they are real good at copying and real good and losing billions of dollars while they wait to get a foothold (Xbox anyone?).

    the zune will do the same, it will be hear for years and years and the ms fan boys will buy them and people in walmart will see the larger screen or the ms label and buy them but they won't innovate anytime soon.

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Awww common.. u mean no one wants a brown ZOOOON? Whenever I feel constipated, I take one look at either Steve Ballmer or the ZOON, and get the runs almost instantly!

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This social thing. Are they communists or something? Those with the most money still remember.

  1. chotty

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Throw enough horse s*** against a wall, eventually some of it will stick,,, great, innovative approach there, Redmond!

  1. koolkid1976

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Business principle

    "The entrant should compete as well as possible on spec, and beat the leader on price."

    Microsoft rarely ever competes on specs. They compete on price and by tying to Windows. There is nothing their Windows marketshare can do to help them with zune. And we know if they could compete in price they would. They can't. Apple's economics of scale is hard to beat, and I wouldn't be surpise if MS is even losing money even with the Zune costing .99 cent more than the iPod.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I've said it before

    You can't polish a t***.

  1. zeasar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Some like it brown...

    No sweat for Micro$hit, at least people like the fanboys on engadget would buy a few for themselves (and to drool over its $hitiness).

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Got it all wrong

    I think the person writing the article comes from the position that MS needs to take first place from Apple. This isn't going to happen, just as Apple didn't take first place from Sony...Sony GAVE it to Apple by choosing not to introduce DAPs early on when they could have competed.

    The only thing that will take Apple down is Apple's hubris. It can easily happen, just as it did to Sony.

    Anyway, I have owned a Zune and it is actually a well built device and I expect the next generation Zune to be as good.

    Feature-wise it cannot compete with the Touch, but if it follows suit of the current Zune, at least it won't have a horrible HISS as do the current Touch models (I sent two back and gave up).

    In the end, MS merely has to claim a niche for itself and sell a product that does as it should. There is definitely room for improvements (NOT games,notes,calendars, etc) such as even better sound quality, better screen resolution, OS X support, unicode support , etc.

    Overall, I really think that the folks who dump on the Zune have zero experience using the device and are talking out their collective arse.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    who's an arse?

    LOL, how sad, well built device? That's not what professionals think. To quote engadget's Zune review, "We came away underwhelmed and not at all surprised -- and why? The expectations were for Microsoft to deliver a "Microsoft" player and system; maybe not too shabby looking, but not very usable, and definitely bug-ridden.

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