Opinion: Why Microsoft's Zune scares Apple to the core
Computerworld - Editor's note: In response to reader comments, Mike Elgan has made some revisions to this article since it was originally posted on Sept. 28. The clarifications involve which operating systems can connect to the Zune, the Apple iPod's market share and the size of the Zune screen.
Microsoft Corp. plans to launch a competitor to Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, a wireless media player called the Zune, just in time for the holidays.
Apple fans point and laugh at Microsoft's entry into a market totally dominated by the iPod and its transcendent design. Apple's media players are so good they have transformed consumer electronics, inspired a massive gadget "ecosystem" and spawned a thousand imitators. Every pretender to the media player throne -- and there have been hundreds -- has been thoroughly smacked down by Apple and its untouchable iPod.
The secrets of iPod's success appear obvious: beauty, simplicity and "extreme coolness" -- three characteristics Microsoft has never achieved in any product.
So why is Apple so scared? (I'll tell you why in a minute.)
First, what is this Zune thing, anyway?
The initial version will sport a 30GB hard drive, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connectivity, a 3-in. screen (320-by-240-pixel QVGA viewable in either portrait or landscape mode), an FM tuner that will display song information from stations that broadcast a Radio Broadcast Data Standards (RBDS) signal and a built-in nonreplaceable lithium-ion rechargeable battery that will probably deliver about 12 hours of music or about 3.5 hours of video on a single charge. It won't last as long as the iPod, but it will charge faster.
Zune will connect to an iTunes-like music store called the Zune Marketplace, which will offer millions of songs, according to Microsoft. Music will be available for 99 cents per song or via an "all-you-can-eat," $14.99-per-month subscription package called a "Zune Pass." Movies and TV shows will become available on the site sometime next year. Marketplace will work with the Microsoft Points program -- Xbox users can spend Points on Zune media and vice versa. Each song on Marketplace costs 79 points. (For instance, 100 points equals $1.25).
Zune will come preloaded with yet-undisclosed songs from DTS, EMI Music's Astralwerks Records and Virgin Records, Ninja Tune, Playlouderecordings, Quango Music Group, Sub Pop Records and V2/Artemis Records.
Best of all, Zunes will be able to connect to one another wirelessly, letting people share songs (as well as playlists and .jpg photos) with up to four other simultaneous Zune users within Wi-Fi range. Recipients of these shared songs will be able to play them three times for up to three days free, after which they'll have to pay to listen. Songs received wirelessly can't be shared.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Three Best Practices to Help Government Agencies Overcome BYOD Challenges This paper highlightschallenges facing government IT in a BYOD environment and discusses strategies for network preparation, ongoing support, and securing information to enable...
- 3 Steps to Content Sharing and Collaboration ft. Forrester Research Consumer sync and share tools help people access and send personal files, but smart IT leaders know that businesses require more than just...
- Empowering Your Mobile Workers A modern mobile IT strategy is no longer an option, it is an absolute necessity. Here's how some of the nation's most progressive...
- Omnichannel: From Buzzword to Strategy Customers demand a seamless experience across channels, especially mobile. Read this whitepaper for a research-based framework for using omnichannel for higher customer engagement.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more