Monday, November 27, 2006

Zune Nation

I don't have one (yet) but I have played with it. Well, at least I played with it for a little while... then the battery died.

After that, I read this article - which falls pretty much in line with my experience.

"Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity.

I wish it had a clickwheel. But Apple has the copyright. For now, at least.

It has a wider screen than the iPod, which is way cool. But it's the same resolution, just spread over more space, which is way uncool. It's mighty impressive to make a screen improvement that gives you a net loss in image quality.

It has wi-fi, but it doesn't really. It just lets you share a song for a few plays, and then replaces it with an advertisment. It's like the "beam" feature on my Treo, but lamer... and my Treo has real wifi too. Did I mention that this doesn't?

The DRM sucks. Hard. And so does Apple's. No reason to complain when the competition sucks too.

But the Zune has NO podcasts.

How disappointing. Really, I mean it. I'm not just kvetching. To me, this shows a startling lack of "getting it."

Even though the vassst majority of the media consumed on iTunes is music bought from big record companies, the podcast integration makes the Music Store an interactive user experience.

Think about it - anyone can link to their RSS feed right now and have an instant presence on the music store. I produce a few podcasts up there, and when someone clicks on my show, the interface looks just like NPR, or ABC or CNN. I'm placed on equal footing. That's important. It's a little of the mySpace magic sprinkled on Apple's music interface.

It's part of what makes iTunes successful - it's about me, the user. It's also about Apple (that's the reason for the sucky DRM). But, to a great extent, it's about Apple and me tolerating the record companies together (that's the reason for no wifi), and rolling our eyes privately.

The Zune is about Microsoft and the record companies selling me something. That's old news, and not very interesting.

If you want to come after the iPod, I would think you'd want to hit hard in the first round.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they've got a "rope-a-dope" strategy... or at least some kind of strategy. I'm sure the Zune will get better.

Really, I'm not sure why I'm bitching. I can't use the damned thing on my Mac anyway.

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