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Zunelicious is a blog that covers Microsoft's new Zune MP3 player, and all the news that goes along with it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Looking to the Zune Initiative's Future...

The next battleground for the dominant Digital Audio Player will be fought by Microsoft and Apple, but it won't be fought with the Zune 1.0 and the 5.5G iPod. Instead it will be fought by the long rumored iPhone and the recently rumored Zune Phone. The current DAP market has become incredibly saturated, and the iPod is the undisputed king. It is obvious that the next step is integration with Cellular Phones.

Microsoft has taken a stand against Apple with the Zune, but instead of planning to win, they are using the Zune as a test much like how they used the original Xbox to get their feet wet before the Xbox 360 came out. Remember, it is J Allard after all, and he likes to win...so planning on being number two to Apple is not his style. There's something brewing.

In a recent survey it was found that 75 % of teens wanted their DAP integrated with their Cellular Phones, and were also willing to pay good money for this device.

The market for such a device is extremely large, as many await a truly consumer-friendly Cellphone/Media Player. Unfortunately the current generation of these devices leaves much to be desired. Many offerings by cellphone providers charge $1.99 per a song, and then do not allow customers to transfer to songs to their computer or burn them to a CD, as well as having a reputation for being difficult to use.

This is where Apple and Microsoft both come in. Apple has one of the strongest brands around with the iPod. If Apple were to release a phone it would undoubtedly have main stream appeal and be adopted by the masses. However, Microsoft does not have this mainstream appeal, leaving consumers distrustful of any foray into the cellphone market. This is one of the main reasons Microsoft is launching the Zune now, as an attempt to build up the brand and eventually have a loyal fan base, as well as get their feet wet when it comes to producing consumer electronics.

If we look at how the current Zune is being promoted and its Social Aspect, we can see that many of these features would transfer over to a phone very well. The cell phone would be an extension of the Zune, creating a truly connected device, that would sync with your connected entertainment experience. Microsoft already has the advantage in having a mobile platform that has been adopted in many Smart phones. Combining what they have learned from their foray into Windows Mobile with their experiences with the Zune and Xbox, Microsoft might have a product capable of winning over the masses.

It is because of this that Apple must be careful, they have already won the current Digital Audio Player market, but their future success is not guaranteed. Especially if Microsoft intends to attack them in the cellular phone arena. If Microsoft is capable of beating the iPhone to the market with a Zune phone, and granted that Microsoft is capable of putting together a solid device, I think Microsoft's chances of success are fairly high.

This is all hypothetical of course...but it is also based on common sense. Apple will eventually unleash an iPhone on the world...everyone knows this...everyone is waiting for it. Microsoft doesn't play to loose, while they loose money on the Xbox 360, they plan to make it back. They wouldn't take a loss on the Zune without a strategy to make it back eventually. So this leaves us with the question, How will they make money. They know they can't beat the iPod in the current market, so they obviously are looking to they next innovation that will change the industry and the Cell/DAP is the answer.


posted by zunelicious, 8:03 PM | link | 3 comments |

What will it like to be an early adopter of the Zune?

Most likely, it will be tough...everyone will want to see your Zune at first and marvel at the fact that you don't have an iPod, but most likely you will find few fellow Zunesters to share music with early on. This is one of my fears about picking a Zune up day one...Wired happens to have a preatty neat article up that talks about why the Zune won't kill the iPod, that touches on many of my fears about the social aspects of the Zune.

3. Wi-Fi song sharing will not catch on in public.

"The Zune's only original feature is Wi-Fi song sharing, which will allow Zune owners to search for others nearby and temporarily trade songs over the air. Traded tunes will be playable up to three times over three days, and can be flagged on the player for later purchase online. Otherwise they disappear.

But while it's obvious that sharing songs will be fun with friends at school or college, it's not an activity that will take off in public. It'll largely be confined to peer groups.

How do I know this? Because that's what's happening with iTunes music sharing, which does more or less the same thing with a computer over a network, instead of peer-to-peer.

Think of the typical experience with iTunes at the office or conferences. Instead of finding all kinds of cool new bands, you marvel at the dreadful taste of your co-workers.

Granted, offices and conferences aren't the best feeding grounds, but where is? There are no hip cafes or bars that I know forging reputations for being good places to hang out and browse other peoples' music libraries.

Will this happen wirelessly with the Zune? Will teenagers gather at the mall or the park to share tunes, sitting around quietly with their headphones on?

I don't see it. It will happen at concerts and clubs where like-minded music lovers will share music they already know they like -- and it'll be kinda awkward and nerdy. Remember swapping business cards with your Palm Pilot via infrared?

And while it might be interesting to take a sneak peek at what the thug at the back of the bus is listening to, it won't be a great strategy for discovering new music. There just won't be enough Zune users around.

The only place I can think of in the United States where the Zune might be good for browsing others' music is on an airplane. But will the airlines allow wireless song sharing mid-flight?

Plus, iTunes shows that many people are so self-conscious of their music collections, they will turn off sharing altogether or carefully prune their library to present themselves in the best possible light.

Wi-Fi song sharing will be more about managing your image in public than sharing music.

But of course, for a lot of people, that's the point: Music-clerk types will show off their bona fides by loading their Zune with obscure indie bands, while the rest of us will be frantically deleting treasured show tunes for fear of looking ridiculous."

Take a look at the full article, it's a good read.


posted by zunelicious, 4:04 AM | link | 0 comments |