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November 26, 2006

Microsoft's Zune a Complete, Humiliating Failure

We're biased in favor of Apple and the iPod. That much is clear. But ever since Microsoft announced the Zune media player and began shipping, critic after critic has come out and said Redmond's efforts are a dud. Instead of a hip, well thought-out device, the company issued a cheap copycat rife with limitations. In fact, the Chicago Sun Times says "Avoid the Loony Zune", calling it the experience "about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face."

Ouch.

Well, what's wrong with it? It turns out from the installation to purchasing and playing songs, every little step is flawed. It doesn't integrate with other devices or other applications well. It doesn't even accept real money, but instead "points" that are credited to song purchases. Worst of all, Microsoft sold out to the record companies, who get a few bucks for every Zune sold, something they've no doubt hoped Apple would do for some time. This is because, in the words of one record executive, "These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it."

Bull. I've purchased every song I have in my iTunes, except for those that were free for download, at the artists' volition. I've purchased thousands from the Apple Music store, and have hundreds of CDs. Just check my closet, my credit cards, or ask my wife. We're tired of being treated like criminals, just because the music executives can't seem to figure out new media and new technology.

The good news is that the Zune won't break any sales records. On Amazon's list of top MP3 players, it's currently at #18 overall, behind a host of iPods and other brands. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun Times says "The Zune will be dead and gone within six months." We can only hope.

Additional gnashings of teeth around Microsoft's DOA product are here:

MSFTextrememakover: Is this really the best you can do?
BusinessWeek: The Soul of a New Microsoft

Listening to ''High Storage'', by D-Factor (Play Count: 1)