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Zunelicious

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

Sunday, October 08, 2006



Interview with Bill Wittress

Hey everyone, I have a special treat for you guys today. That's right, we scored an interview with the amazing Bill Wittress of the Zune team. Enjoy the interview!

1.) What is it like working on the Zune initiative?

BW: I love working on Zune. It is incredibly entrepreneurial. You literally have 10 different things going on at any given time. On any given day you may meet with senior management, have an interview with an analyst, crunch numbers for finance and meet with a partner for dinner. The next day it will be completely different.

2.) How did you end up at your current job?

BW: I've been back at Microsoft for over 4 years. In that time, I worked on IPTV (you can search the web for some of my whitepapers that are still in circulation). I started PMC. I owned BizDev for PlaysForSure and I was eventually asked to come work on accessories for Zune. It has been quite a wild ride.

3.) What is it exactly that you do...I understand that you work with 3rd parties to coordinate Zune accessories...but what exactly does this entail?


BW: I own the third party accessories program. That means literally setting up the fundamentals of the program (who is in the program, what devices we select, and how the program is structured, etc.) I also look at the future partners and products and decide who are the up-and-comers, what are the technologies we may want to acquire, and what's going to be the next hot product.


4.) If you could have only one accessory to go with your Zune what would it be?


BW: For me personally, it would be my Schure 5Cs. I'm not an audiophile, but those are great headphones. There is a set of new headphones that are much less expensive coming out for launch that are really good as is the VAF speakerdock.


5.) In your opinion, how will the Zune stack up with the iPod accessory-wise when it comes out?


BW: We worked really hard to make sure there are lots of accessories available at launch. I think at last count there are going to be about 35 SKUs at launch with many more to follow. It's obviously not as many as iPod, but we think we picked the right partners to cover both depth of product as well as quality. I don't think anyone is going to look at our offering and think that they are missing any key accessories.


6.) How do you think the Zune will be represented in retail (space allocated to it) vs. the iPod?


BW: This is one of our strengths. As Cesar posted last week, we've got a great line-up of retailers ready to assort the product. The magnitude of the number of stores is what really impresses me. It is on the order of the Xbox launch. Also, we've got a lot of alternative retail outlets that will be selling Zune. So, if you want to buy Zune at Wal-Mart or at your local skate shop, you'll be able to do it.


7.) J Allard...Love him? Hate him? Did he make all of you guys read Snowcrash yet?


BW: Are you kidding me? J is one of the main reasons I decided to come over and work on the project. J is a great leader and a great guy to hang out with. I'd walk over broken glass for the guy! And, no I haven't read Snowcrash.


8.) What is the integration with Xbox 360 like? What about Live and the Live anywhere initiative? Any fun stuff happening there?

BW: As most people who read my blog know, I'm a pretty big fan of the 360. We've been working on integrating devices with the 360 since the launch last year. We support PlaysFromDevice with the 360 today. In addition, many of the elements from the 360 appear in Zune. For example, the concept of GamerTags is reflected in the MediaTags in Zune. While not exactly the same, they provide a commonality between the platforms. As I like to say, they are part of the same family - maybe not brother and sister, but close cousins.



I would like to thank Bill for taking the time to do this interview with us. Bill, you rock!!! Good luck with the launch,

-Charlie



posted by zunelicious, 10:28 PM | link | 6 comments |

Where the F is the Zune???

I don't know if anyone else has realized this but the Zune is MIA as far as reviews go. Yes Cesar is organizing Flash-Mob meetings for people that live in Seatle, but what about the rest of us? How is it that Microsoft has not sent any of the Zune community sites Zunes to review? How come they haven't sent Engadget or PC World a Zune? How come they sent Ellen Degenerous a Zune??!!!

Usually Microsoft is on top of things, but come on...Sony can get Playstation Magazine a Playstation 3 and you guys can't get anyone a Zune? What's goin on? I think that those 250 Zunes being given out on Ellen could have gone to a lot better use...

I'm not writing this article in an attempt to get myself a Zune, but instead as a wakeup call to everyone out there. Should it be neccasary for Gearlive to have to stalk Microsoft employees at Podcasting conventions in the hopes of getting a Zune review? I personally don't think so, and I hope the Zune marketing team gets their act together quickly.

-Charlie
posted by zunelicious, 10:17 AM | link | 2 comments |

Hey everyone, I had an idea for an article dealing with the Corporate Culture at Microsoft and Apple and how it effects their products and the battle for the DAP marketplace. But instead of giving you one incredibly long article I've decided to chop it up into small installments to make it easier to read. Hope you enjoy it.

Community

Apple

While there is a thriving Community formed around Apple's products and an almost cult like following, Apple's actual interaction with the community is very sparse. Apple's corporate culture is basically dictated by Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs IS Apple, he is the front man and his opinion is Apple's opinion.

Think to yourself...can you name any members of the Apple product teams? Do you know any of their opinions? This is due to the all encompassing secrecy which Steve brought back with him when he returned to the company. Apple will not even brief their own employees on future technologies, asking their Field Employees to leave meeting rooms...do you think they would let us know anything?

Microsoft

Microsoft takes a different aproach to communicating with customers. Across its many initiatives and product groups, Microsoft has bloggers coming out of the woodwork. Xbox has Major Nelson and GamerScore, the Zune has Cesar Mendez, David Caulton, Bill Witt, and that British guy that only talks about concerts he might go to. These are just a few examples, but believe, there are many more.

The effect is that these loved employees now have a way of communicating valuable information and news to their reader, they humanize Microsoft (which isn't an easy task), and they interact with their product's users and communities.

Is this important? To some people it may not be, but to the communities that these bloggers serve the answer is a resounding yes. At relatively no cost and with such rewarding results it is obvious to myself that interaction with the communities is very important, and I am still at a loss for why many companies don't mimic Microsoft in this respect.


-Charlie



posted by zunelicious, 8:53 AM | link | 1 comments |