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No App Store For Microsoft's Zune HD 351

Posted by kdawson
from the new-way-to-compete dept.
Xerfas writes 'Microsoft's Zune HD, set to go on sale Tuesday, will not feature an open application store like its competitor the iPod Touch. It will come with some unique features, though, like an HD radio tuner, and with software that has been well-received by users. Those capabilities will determine whether the ZuneHD sells well — and whether Microsoft decides to keep selling its own music player, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.' The Zune marketing manager was quoted in the Seattle Times on whether the Zune would open up for 3rd-party apps, and he gave a response of such mind-numbing PR-speak that John Gruber of Daring Fireball was moved to provide this English translation: "No, because our mobile strategy is a convoluted mess."
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No App Store For Microsoft's Zune HD

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  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:04PM (#29428993) Journal

    "Microsoft's Zune HD, set to go on sale Tuesday, will not feature a tightly controlled by control freaks with degrees in control freakery application store like its competitor the iPod Touch."

    Fixed.

    • by zjbs14 (549864)
      Done in one.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:13PM (#29429107)

      In other news, I'm going out for a bike ride like my competitor Lance Armstrong . . .

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Because if there's one thing Microsoft is known for, it's not acting like control freaks. Am I right, guys?
    • by Angostura (703910) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:54PM (#29429645)

      You missed a bit:

      Microsoft's Zune HD, set to go on sale Tuesday, will not feature a tightly controlled by control freaks with degrees in control freakery application store like its competitor the iPod Touch. Instead any Seattle based company called Microsoft will be allowed to place applications on the device with no restrictions

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brett Buck (811747)

      "Microsoft's Zune HD, set to go on sale Tuesday, will not feature a tightly controlled by control freaks with degrees in control freakery application store like its competitor the iPod Touch, and therefore may or may not work and may or may not do anything you want it to do"

            Further corrected.

              Brett

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:04PM (#29428997)

    I have a cheap sansa. It plays mp3/ogg/flac. It plays little xvid videos and plays and records FM.

    What more do I need?

    Are these damn players becoming like cell phones? Do app stores matter? Makes no sense to me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      Are these damn players becoming like cell phones? Do app stores matter? Makes no sense to me.

      Here's what these music / video players need: An app to make them into a smart phone. I'd buy that for a dollar!

    • by 0110011001110101 (881374) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:10PM (#29429075) Journal
      check your grass.. I think there are kids on it that need yelled at.
    • by stokessd (89903) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:14PM (#29429121) Homepage

      Do apps matter?

      That depends on a couple factors, the first is what you want or need in a portable device, and secondly what is your device capable of.

      for me having a phone with GPS and internet capability means that I'm never more than inches away from a map, thus I'm lost a whole lot less than I used to be. Product reviews and internet prices are always in my pocket, so I'm a smarter consumer even for impulse buys. If I get stuck away from home in a rainstorm on my bike, I can check to see if I'm screwed or if the rain will blow over while I sit under a bridge and wait.

      So no, apps are not needed, but they sure made my life better without having to carry another item.

      Sheldon

    • by b0r1s (170449) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:19PM (#29429197) Homepage

      You may not be the intended audience. If you have to carry a bare bones phone because (for example) you have one provided by an employer, or you cant have a camera (security reasons), or you don't want to upgrade and lose your ancient awesome phone plan, carrying an mp3 player that also doubles as a browser / calendar / email client / GPS / everything else is convenient and awesome.

      If you just want it to play music, it's way too expensive and a waste of money.

      Remember: not everyone just wants music.

    • it does (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jDeepbeep (913892) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:22PM (#29429227)

      Are these damn players becoming like cell phones? Do app stores matter? Makes no sense to me.

      In the case of the iPod Touch, it's become a highly popular gaming platform, not to mention having things like iCal, wifi, safari bundled, etc etc. It's either filled a void by providing a hybrid PDA+music player+gaming device, or created that void and told people that they need this. Imho it's a bit of both.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:24PM (#29429261)

      What more do I need?

      Are these damn players becoming like cell phones? Do app stores matter? Makes no sense to me.

      First, when making an argument, consider you are not the only person in the world, so yes, someone somewhere probably needs something more/different/whatever.

      And yes, App stores matter. Developers like them for saless. Non-geeks like them because it's a trustworthy point to get software that's pretty much guaranteed to be malware-free and won't hijack your system. Ubuntu, in fact, has an essentially same functionality in synaptic. Perhaps, if they were to leverage that into a store, it could help linux grow further.

      Not all software can be free software. Can't sell support contracts for games and the like.

      There is also cool software to be had for the iPhone - like some small apps to help you learn chinese or japanese, etc. App stores help promote this type of thing.

    • by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:39PM (#29429439)

      Your opinion of what is relevant in the market is proportional to how much of that market you comprise.

      The fact of the matter is, these apps and a convenient source for them are very much in demand. I highly recommend you at least borrow someone's iPod Touch of iPhone, check out the app store (right from the device!) and see if there isn't something there you would like to have.

      My 3GS is not only my phone, my ebook reader, my mp3 player, my backup navigation device, my portable dictionary, my (surprisingly good) camera, my portable gaming device, compass, and, and even a crude level, in fact it's the first device I've owned that's fast enough and user friendly enough that I'd call it a general purpose portable computer. I held out on getting an iPhone until the 3GS and it was worth the wait.

      I'll get off your lawn now.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "I have a cheap sansa. It plays mp3/ogg/flac. It plays little xvid videos and plays and records FM. What more do I need? Are these damn players becoming like cell phones? Do app stores matter? Makes no sense to me."

      wait, people use the iPod Touch to play music?? That's stupid, the device is huge! I use a nano for music and a touch for apps, mostly games. The Touch is actually a pretty decent gaming device, with a wide variety of great little games with lots of free demos and almost every game is les
    • Why they matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @03:49PM (#29430247)

      Because they are finally powerful enough to replace laptops for many uses.

      I just came back from Europe, on the way over I was flying next to someone who bought a Touch just so she could have email and web support while there, but without the weight of a laptop (she was going on a long biking trip). But she was also using a few applications like language tutorials and so on...

      And of course, she could also have music while biking.

      You device is fine for you, but it's nice to have devices that can do enough to make laptops a truly optional choice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Omestes (471991)

      What gets me is that they are eroding storage space, and somehow expecting me to not notice thanks to being blinded by bloat. Looking at the latest iPod selection, only two models will actually hold all my music now (the $400 touch, and the Classic, which will probably go away in a year or so). The Zune page is being sucky right now, but I'm pretty sure they only have 2 players that could hold my library with room for growth. I don't think that the ability to "shuffle" my music collection is a feature, n

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:03PM (#29434533)

        What gets me is that they are eroding storage space...and the Classic, which will probably go away in a year or so

        That's what everyone said about the Classic last year. And in fact, the Classic has *gained* storage space in the recent update (updated to 160GB from 120GB). How is that erosion?

        The classic will be around just long enough for flash devices to support similar storage and then, it might go away. But it's clear Classic level storage is going to stick around, there are plenty of other people with large libraries of music.

  • This is a major oversight if Microsoft isn't going to allow 3rd party apps. Maybe when they get around to supporting it, you'll be able to install apps without using an iTunes-style interface. Directly from app's website perhaps?
  • Sure a dedicated app store is a great way to funnel your customers to your door. But that's like saying you only have one store available to you, and you have to pay in Stokessd-town dollars. I'm sure you would have less total customers than if the unit was open to applications from anywhere, although you'll most likely collect more stokessd-town dollars.

    If my quick read of the article (what there is of it), there "does not have plans for an iPhone-like app platform", but that doesn't meant that apps cann

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Sure a dedicated app store is a great way to funnel your customers to your door. But that's like saying you only have one store available to you, and you have to pay in Stokessd-town dollars. I'm sure you would have less total customers than if the unit was open to applications from anywhere, although you'll most likely collect more stokessd-town dollars.

      You're only seeing half the picture. Having a built in store that collects all the apps in one place is a feature and customers really, really, really like being able to get everything from one place in one consistent way. This leaves phone implementors with three choices:

      • be lazy don't do anything ignore the feature.
      • implement a store just like Apple did, so you have feature parity and either:
        • lock the device to the store down just like Apple, gaining the same disadvantages
        • don't lock the device to just the
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by unjedai (966274)

      Microsoft has done a very consistent job of managing the Zune. That management got it where it is today, and I see this revelation as being consistent with all the previous management decisions.

      And where it is today is right at 2% market share [marketwatch.com] (fifth paragraph from the bottom).

  • Can a third party develop apps on their own, can they be installed easily etc?
  • by sribe (304414) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:17PM (#29429153)

    Let's see, it's set to go on sale just about now. So how exactly has the software "been well-received by users"???

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by josteos (455905)

      Beta testers. They have opinions that are ignored unless they properly align with prepared marketing assets.

  • Why is his comment on the matter even being taken seriously? Regardless of what Brian said, Gruber's level of bias in this matter renders him unfit for citation.
    • Gruber may be fanboi extraordinare, but come on! Saying "windows mobile strategy is a convoluted mess" is like saying "the Pope is a Catholic"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sootman (158191)

      There's an old saying that goes "If Hitler says 2+2=4, you can't argue with him." Did you RTFA? How is this NOT a convoluted mess?:

      It's hard to say right now. If you look around the company at other places where things like this are important, Windows Mobile rises to the top... Right now our product roadmaps didn't line up perfectly for us to snap to what they're doing or vice versa. That being said, we know people want things like this on their devices so we're going to build them ourselves, they're going to be super high-quality, and they're going to be free.

      Down the road if there's a way we can work with Windows Mobile or another group inside the company that's building an app store and take advantage of that, that's something we'll look into.

      This thing has been in development for YEARS and they're JUST NOW realizing that maybe people will want to run apps on them, and they're announcing that they don't know how, if, or when that will happen? I don't care who says it--John Gruber, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, it doesn't matter--it is clearly a convoluted mess.

      For fuck's sake, why on Earth DIDN'T MS just build the Zune

      • Indeed. They put wifi into the first Zune and DIDN'T put a web browser in. They could have had an iPod Touch beater SIX MONTHS ahead of Apple. Why didn't they?
  • Wow, biased much? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:20PM (#29429213)

    You know, I know this is slashdot and all, but this is a VERY biased article.

    They don't have an open app store yet because they want all the games to be free, and developed in house, which isn't as bad as this summary makes it sound.

    They aren't merging with windows mobile's store because they want to make extra sure the Zune is perfect, and I absolutely don't blame them.

    I'm pretty annoyed that whoever wrote this summary was this biased, the Zune HD looks awesome and its really unfair to try to make it look bad on a site that gets 2 million hits a day. If it ends up being bad, that's one thing, but give it a freakin chance.

    -Taylor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      Someone is very biased, but I'm not sure it was the submitter. The very fact that Zune even has a headline on Slashdot considering its 1% market share and fourth-place finish behind iPod, Sandisk, and "Other" comes close to astroturfing in my book. Zune is irrelevant in the market and pretending this is a viable product launch at ALL is awfully biased in a pro-Microsoft way.

      They don't have an app store yet because it's hard and they don't want to invest in it for a potentially dying platform.

      They aren't m

      • by Facegarden (967477) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:46PM (#29429527)

        Someone is very biased, but I'm not sure it was the submitter. The very fact that Zune even has a headline on Slashdot considering its 1% market share and fourth-place finish behind iPod, Sandisk, and "Other" comes close to astroturfing in my book. Zune is irrelevant in the market and pretending this is a viable product launch at ALL is awfully biased in a pro-Microsoft way.

        They don't have an app store yet because it's hard and they don't want to invest in it for a potentially dying platform.

        They aren't merging with Windows Mobile because that strategy is a mess (6.5? 7.0?) and a moving target. ("Make extra sure the Zune is perfect"? What does that even mean?)

        The marketing folks at Microsoft are trying hard to spin, but their explanations make no sense if you examine how the current market leader won.

        Really? The current market leader won by also not having an app store right away.

        And this isn't astroturfing, as far as I'm concerned. I'm genuinely excited about the ZuneHD. Builtin HD radio, the first device with NVidia's Tegra processor for mobile 3D graphics, and a supposedly beautiful OLED screen are all reasons why this device is worth reporting on.

        And I'm not a MS fanboy, I dumped windows mobile YEARS ago (thank god) for my iPhone, which I eventually dumped for Android. I just think it looks genuinely promising.
        -Taylor

        • by Angostura (703910)

          I would argue that the current market leader won despite not having an app store right away. The griping about the lack of one and Apple's 'you just develop using Web widgets' strategy was loud and prolonged.

          The iPod Touch/iPhone was lucky in that it didn't have an entrenched direct competitor with a full app store to compete against. The Zune isn't that lucky.

          • I would argue that the current market leader won despite not having an app store right away. The griping about the lack of one and Apple's 'you just develop using Web widgets' strategy was loud and prolonged.

            The iPod Touch/iPhone was lucky in that it didn't have an entrenched direct competitor with a full app store to compete against. The Zune isn't that lucky.

            Fair enough, I agree with that, but it's not a suicide move either, or a sign of non-commitment, as some suggested.

            -Taylor

        • by qazwart (261667) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:22PM (#29430559) Homepage

          The iPhone initially show was in January right after the first Zune came out. I thought "Wow, that's what the Zune SHOULD HAVE BEEN". The Zune might be finally getting there, but now its too late.

          Don't get me wrong. The Zune HD is finally turning out to be what it should have been all along. But, it's really not anything different than the iPod Touch and the iPod Touch has a gazillion applications. Well, you say, the original iPhone didn't have an app store, but neither did anyone else. The thing Microsoft must realize is that the Zune has to compete against THIS YEARS iPod Touch.

          In marketing, you have something called the "delta". This is the thing that your product has that your competitors don't. When the iPhone came out, the delta was a true to life web browser and easy syncing with your computer. It was the music player/phone/browser that everyone wanted. Since then, everyone has a music player/browser/phone combo. Now, the delta is the app store.

          What's the Zune HD's "delta" that will get me to throw out my iPod Touch and line up to buy a Zune? HD Radio? It's hasn't really caught on. OLCD screen? That's a nice touch, but is it that much better than the iPod's screen? The Zune is $10 cheaper? Naw.

          Here's what the Zune should have had:

          * Compatibility with the XBox. Hey, you got a zillion XBox games, why not make it so they can easily be ported to the Zune?
          * Camera that's integrated with Twitter/Facebook/Flickr. It should have spot metering and auto focus. Optical Zoom would be a big plus.
          * Multiple platforms. Hey, the Mac now represents 15% of the consumer market. Maybe even more. Why are you immediately dropping that big a chunk of the market? Heck, the songs in iTunes aren't DRMd any more, and there's an API for perusing the catalog, so you don't even have to pull a Palm Pre. Show that you're willing to compete against Apple's home turf. And, don't leave Linux out.
          * Work out a deal w/ Sprint a la Kindle for networking. Not necessarily a phone service, but use the Sprint network for your network. And, of course, WiFi.

          All of this would have made the Zune something to consider despite having sand kicked into its face and its lunch money taken for the last few years. Now, it's just an also ran iPod look alike. If I want an iPod look alike, I might as well by the real thing.

      • You're right. Any mention of a product released by the most successful software company in history is _totally_ astroturfing.

        Quick, what irrelevent sub .05% market share Linux release just got published?

      • by danger42 (302987)

        potentially dying platform.

        When exactly was this patient alive, doctor?

    • by mewsenews (251487)

      They aren't merging with windows mobile's store because they want to make extra sure the Zune is perfect, and I absolutely don't blame them.

      Yeah, Apple's version totally ruined the iPhone, what were they thinking.

      • They aren't merging with windows mobile's store because they want to make extra sure the Zune is perfect, and I absolutely don't blame them.

        Yeah, Apple's version totally ruined the iPhone, what were they thinking.

        Apple *also* didn't come out with an app store right away, to make sure everything was perfect. This article also fails to mention that they intend to have one when the time is right. For apple that was an entire year.
        -Taylor

    • Zune is not on the Windows mobile store because the Zune project leader doesn't know how to get in contact with the WinMo team. I think that came across pretty clear in TFA.

    • by Angostura (703910)

      That's right. And opening an Appstore to third parties would absolutely prevent Microsoft from bundling free awesome games, because... wait, it's on the tip of my tongue.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:31PM (#29429327) Homepage Journal
    after Apple dropped the price on the iPod touch. Regardless of how good the new Zune is, the point is that it has a LOOOONG way to go before it catches up and pricing yourself about the same as your already well-established competitor is pretty much a recipe for failure.
  • uslefull (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:32PM (#29429339)

    What happened to the day when microsoft made a million useless machines usefull again... now their just making a million useless machines

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Zune does have a 'store'. There is the Zune Marketplace, around longer than the iphone app store. You can download games to your Zune (very limited) from the Marketplace, isn't that essentially what the iPhone app store does? The Zune isn't the iPhone or the iTouch (comes close), it is a DRM heavy Microsoft portable media player with the ability to run certain apps and share things with other Zune owners. If you have the cash and easy wifi access, then you are set on the media front. The Zune isn't for the

  • No more squirting (Score:5, Informative)

    by vivek7006 (585218) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:35PM (#29429371) Homepage
    They got rid "squirting" feature which Balmar was so proud of.

    First, Microsoft has removed the "squirting" feature, which let you send songs directly from one Zune to another. This feature was supposed to be a big selling point of the first Zune but was crippled by unreasonable rights restrictions that let you play songs only three times or within three days (whichever came first). Microsoft and content owners gradually loosened those restrictions, but the feature never made much difference--mainly because there were so few Zune users out there to exchange songs with. (The "first man with a telephone" problem.) Now it's gone

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13526_3-10352637-27.html [cnet.com]
  • US only, why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pascal Sartoretti (454385) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:37PM (#29429395)
    Why do they only sell the Zune it in the US ? If they don't have the complexity of an application store, it should be relatively easy.

    You have to wonder if Microsoft really wants to sell Zunes... As an iPod user, I would welcome a stronger competition.

    Please Microsoft, keep Apple at work, else they will become another lazy monopolist !
  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:38PM (#29429425)

    *Zune HD AV Dock and an HDTV (all sold separately) are required to view video at HD resolution. Supported 720p HD video files play on the player, downscaled to fit the screen at 480 x 272 â" not HD resolution. Zune Pass subscription required; streaming via wi-fi available in U.S. only. HD Radioâ is a proprietary trademark of iBiquity Digital Corp. Learn more about HD Radio here.

    So does that mean I need a "zune pass" to play video on my zune? What the hell is a zune pass [zune.net] anyway? Ok, so I look it up, but now why do I need it again?

  • by fee^ (94129) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:39PM (#29429429) Homepage

    ...is how this time, M$ decided to leave behind their prior Zune models with any new features in the update. Discontinuing them should have been the sign. As a 18-month owner of a Zune80, I'm seriously disappointed. The only new features we legacy Zune (18months is legacy now?) users get are for the desktop app, which personally I only use to manage my device, and nothing more. Since I have it running on a Windows Media Center PC, why do I need yet another app that does pretty much the same thing, especially from the same vendor. Even more, in a time of recession, where I don't want to drop another couple hundred for a replacement device that's hardly showing its age or need for replacement, why would I possibly want to replace it?

    If you read the Zune forums, its full of device feature requests for simple things...unicode support, crossfade, better playlist management, better integration with Windows apps (there is currently none for WMP or WMC). All of these pretty much since Gen-1 of the device, and all have been disregarded since the Zune marketing team felt it necessary to take this route instead.

    Its simply a sad example of greed overtaking common sense at the expense of a bit more hard work. A philosophical example of modern capitalism and American excess too?

    Anyone wanna buy a Gen-2 Zune80 is Good condition? I'll use the $ to buy a MiniSD for my cellphone to consolidate my gadgets instead.

  • Obviously we're moving more and more towards convergence devices which will handle many or all of the mobile technology needs of people. But we're not at that point fully yet.

    Knowing this establishing yourself as a solid contender in one venue (music/media playback) isn't a bad thing. Then put together future offerings once others have dangled around in the market and figured out what people really do and don't want.

    I could see MS coming out with a version of Windows Mobile that is a "everything under one

  • by Shag (3737) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:45PM (#29429523) Homepage

    It will come with some unique features, though, like an HD radio tuner

    Does "unique" mean "just like the iPod Nano"?

    (The Nano's ability to show artist and song names, and its "iTunes Tagging" features, shared with some FM radio iPod docks, also use HD radio. Apple just doesn't, for whatever reason, put "HD radio" in giant flaming letters in its advertising.)

    • HD radio isn't FM (Score:3, Informative)

      by acomj (20611)

      Its confusing, but HD radio is secondary radio streams (low bit rate I'm told), that is broadcast by existing radio stations. Its confusing because it sounds like High Def, or High Definition (The zune supposedly does 720p).

      Not many people have the radios (I don't) so people are confused. They're trying to get them into cars. Its fm's answer to satellite radio.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio [wikipedia.org]

      There aren't many people who aren't MS fans who think a slab /multi touch / one button PMP isn't just another

    • by b0bby (201198)

      I thought that HD Radio implied access to extra stations, in much the same way that digital OTA TV gives you subchannels. My car radio gives me station/song info, but it's not an HD Radio & I can't listen to multiple broadcasts per station.

  • I don't know how else to put it. It seems like Microsoft is coming straight out the gate on the apologetic. What sort of impression is this going to send to people considering investing in the platform? They haven't expressed any clear strategy for a possible addition of Windows Mobile apps in the future, which seems equally stupid.

    Do what Apple does- sometimes you just have to lie to make yourself sound impressive!

    Let's take a lesson from Apple here: they've been pawning off old technology in Mac OS X as i

  • How many slashdotters were going to buy a Zune anyway? It is a dead-end product, regardless of whether or not they offer an app store. How many third party developers are ready, willing, and able to develop apps for Zune? Seems like most of them are too busy supporting iPod to even support Android, let alone Zune. Given a choice, and taking into consideration Microsoft's long history of screwing third party developers, which platform would you target?
  • Just got a Zune HD and the built-in support for 3rd party apps is pretty slow, it takes several seconds to load each of the handful of apps they have in the Zune app store.
  • by nsayer (86181) <nsayer@BLUEkfu.com minus berry> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @03:32PM (#29430047) Homepage

    Wow. If you want to get people to buy your product, nothing could exude less confidence than,

    "Those capabilities will determine whether [...] Microsoft decides to keep selling its own music player."

    Wow! Where can I buy a $100+ tech gadget that the manufacturer may wash its hands of real soon? I must have one!

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