Fellow geeks today probably know that Microsoft has released the long awaited “iPod-killer”, aka the Zune.
Already there is two big issues Microsoft has to overcome in my above statement:
- Geeks know about the Zune, but not the average music listener. I just asked my fiancee if she knows what a Zune is. She gave me one of the weirdest looks I have seen.
- The fact that people want to label the Zune as an iPod killer.
A huge reason why Apple scored it big with the iPod is marketing and the fact that it really backed up what its marketing says the iPod can do. There is no better device that integrates every part of the process from buying music (iTunes Music Store), to listening to and ripping music on your computer (iTunes), to the syncing part. It is so easy that anyone can walk into a store, find an iPod, and set it up in minutes. A minute of experimenting with the iPod and the scroll wheel really makes the buyer have a lot of fun.
The word-of-mouth from all of this integration instantly gives Apple a ton of free press. Combined with stellar marketing and that is why the iPod is successful.
Compare this with the Zune: It isn’t cheaper then an iPod, it doesn’t play previously purchased music from iTunes. It isn’t compatible with other Windows-based stores like Napster and Rhapsody. It is thicker, heavier, requires you to purchase points, cripples the wireless features to the point where it is annoying to use, has more barriers of entry, and doesn’t even use the one piece of software that Microsoft already has marketed as its music jukebox (Windows Media Player).
I don’t see how that will kill the iPod. It won’t, I guarantee it. The iPod has so few barriers to entry that it really makes people want to buy an iPod and they enjoy every second of the exprience.
I can just picture people being frustrated during the long/buggy install of the software, learning a whole new piece of software, wondering why they have to purchase points when it is just $0.99 to buy a song on iTunes, struggle to find someone to try the wireless features with, curse at why their iTunes Store music doesn’t work on it, curse as to why Naspter/Rhapsody music doesn’t play on it, and so on.
Microsoft whiffed on Zune 1.0. I give it a D-, with it missing a failing grade because of its slightly larger screen compared to an iPod and a wireless feature that has potential if they ever make it usable.
Again, the barriers of entry have to be non-existent or Microsoft will not make even a minor dent into iPod sales. Microsoft has to make people say that not only does the Zune have more and better implementations of features, but that the Zune is simpler to setup, simpler to use, just as fun to talk about, and just as fun to use.
Basically, the Zune has to stand on its own without being compared to an iPod. Instead, it has to make people want to compare iPod’s to IT!
Else, it will be an expensive failure. At least the first XBOX actually offered something against the PS2.