The iPod still has a lock on the market for portable media players, but at least Microsoft is doing some interesting marketing. Over the weekend I was notified about the comingzune parties happening in seven Canadian cities (it seems Montreal was a late addition).
The Edmonton event takes place on Friday night at 9pm at The Artery, which Sharon tells me is an up and coming venue in our city. Here’s the map of the location.
I love the band name – The Wicked Awesomes! Never heard of them before though. They are five local guys, apparently influenced by devo. Take from that, what you will.
Perhaps you’ve heard on the news recently that Microsoft’s new digital media player, the Zune, is hardly flying off the shelves. I guess that’s not too surprising given the early reviews the device has received. Now I know Microsoft is pretty good at hardware (Xbox, mice and keyboards, etc.) but they are still a software company. How is it then, that they could have screwed up the software side of the Zune so badly?
Now I haven’t seen or tested a Zune, so I can’t say I have had similar experiences. And granted, not all of the reviews are so negative (indeed there are quite a few positive ones), but still. A software company should have gotten the software part absolutely right, don’t you think?
Imagine for a moment that the record labels restricted or entirely removed Apple’s access to their catalog of content. What would Apple do? I’m not suggesting the record labels are going to do this anytime soon, but it seems Microsoft has gotten smart and come up with a way to attack iTunes, and it’s not related to the hardware:
Nobody partners like Microsoft. The company is one of the shrewdest deal makers on the planet, when it isn’t competing with partners…There has been buzz for sometime that labels were unhappy with Apple’s single pricing and were looking for a cut of iPod sales…Seems to me: Microsoft is looking to suave labels’ hurts as it seeks to get the deals that could make table stakes for taking on Apple. After all, Apple doesn’t control the content.
When you consider Microsoft’s deal with Universal Music, the possibility of similar deals with the other record labels, and it’s recent Xbox Live Video moves, it becomes clear that access to content is at the heart of Microsoft’s new strategy.
Apple’s strength is hardware, it’s what they do best. Without any content for that hardware however, it becomes a much tougher sell.
Read: Microsoft Monitor
It may be true that Microsoft’s upcoming Zune device doesn’t explicitly support podcasting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t copy a podcast episode to it yourself. In that sense, it’s a lot like any of the other Windows Media based devices out there.
Until today, I was more worried that Microsoft and the Zune would snub podcasting altogether. No mention of podcasting in any literature, marketing, or other materials. No hope for future updates to the Zune to support podcasting. That sort of thing. Today however, Microsoft launched Zune.net and put my fears to rest:
Zap! You’re connected to your best friend and send the new song your band recorded in the garage last weekend. Another friend gets the hilarious podcast your kid brother made at school…
Emphasis is mine. See! They don’t hate podcasting!
Maybe there’s hope for V2 after all.
Microsoft officially launched the Zune today with a press release, and a bunch of photos. All of the specifications are pretty much what Engadget and others have been reporting for weeks, but the one big surprise is the color lineup: white, black, and brown. Yes brown. Engadget has some more details:
They also finally let slip the screen res — an unsurprising QVGA — and some better news on the codec front: the Zune supports h.264, MP3, AAC and WMA. As for ballyhoo, wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing is where the real action is at, and it works pretty much like we’ve been hearing: you can share a full-length track with a friend, and they’ve got three times to listen to it over a three day period, after which they can flag the song for purchase on the Zune Marketplace — unless they’re an unlimited “Zune Pass” subscriber, of course. You can also share playlists and pictures with your buddies, along with what we suppose are “unprotected” homemade recordings.
You might remember that I got the Creative Zen Touch for Christmas two years ago, and it has worked great for me ever since. I still use it every day. But two years is a long time in the world of technology! A brand new Zune, with it’s color screen (my Zen is just blue), video, and wireless capabilities (among other things) might be in order don’t you think?
The white one would match my Xbox 360 quite nicely!
That’s the question Paul Colligan asked in his latest post at Zune Luv, and it appears the answer is yes. Well, at least it looks more likely to be a yes than a no. He says:
Fact: Yesterday, September 10, 2006, Microsoft Zune(firmware 0.9 beta) hit 200+ Podcast feeds.
Where do I get this stat? Rick Klau, VP Business Development at Feedburner.
And yes, I have permission to quote him.
This still isn’t proof, but it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing. I mean if the Zune has wifi, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a podcatcher too! I guess we’ll find out soon enough (November 14th).
Read: Zune Luv?
Turns out the rumor is true! Microsoft is working on a new project to take on Apple and the iPod called Zune. Information is flying fast and furious around the web, but Engadget has come to the rescue with a pretty good status check of what is known thus far. They also posted a quote from Microsoft’s GM of Marketing, Chris Stephenson:
“Today we confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune. Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together.”
From the CNET News.com article on Zune, I found the teaser website which is pretty unimpressive, though it does give you the ability to sign up for news and updates.
As has been noted elsewhere, this marks a significant change in Microsoft’s media and entertainment strategy, which thus far has relied upon partners to build and sell devices. I don’t think it will be quite the problem that many believe though – Microsoft competes with partners all the time, in a wide range of different industries. In fact I hope Zune turns out to be great, so Microsoft’s partners can follow their lead and improve their own players.
With keyboards, mice, webcams, the Xbox 360, and probably other stuff I don’t know about, Microsoft’s hardware business is already somewhat substantial. Add media players to the mix, the rumored portable gaming device, and maybe Microsoft sees a future in hardware? I wonder how long it will be until they manufacture their own Media Center PC.
In any case, bring on the Zune!