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How Microsoft Can Make Zune a Success 305

jcatcw writes "Zune had potential, but 5 months in it barely gets passing grades. According to the article, there are five things Microsoft must change: 1) The built-in Wi-Fi, aka 'the social,' was a bad idea. 2) Tell newbies what it can do. 3) Create a low-end, flash-based player. 4) Push subscriptions. 5) Make it sexy. A Microsoft representative said, about the wireless concept: 'We felt we were addressing the social aspect of music, and the research we've done has shown that people understand the concept that wireless enables sharing ... but the tagline, while provocative, hasn't meant a lot to consumers.'"
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How Microsoft Can Make Zune a Success

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  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:32PM (#18532951)
    Make them out of gold and give them away.
    • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:45PM (#18533227)
      They might become popular with the kids if they really squirted.
    • Re:Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @05:24PM (#18535221)
      Allowing Microsoft to take control of DRM and hence hedge it's position into a new market as a monopoly would be an incredibly negative thing. They are trying this with Vista with all the DRM implementations and the fact that they have required hardware manufacturers to comply nor not be certified. This makes Microsoft Windows the defacto iPod of computers. You know you are locked into the iPod if you buy from Apple's music store. This means that anyone developing for Windows Vista would be essentially locking in their customer's content to that platform. You may purchase a new video but you can't play that on say a Macintosh or Linux because Microsoft won't license that technology to those platforms. Instead they want to become the monopoly in another market. They are using Vista to do that. They are using the hardware requirements put to manufacturers to make that happen.

      DRM is to data what the OS is to program. You don't write your program to work on multiple platforms (with some exceptions), you write software to a specific platform. Microsoft knows this. They are happy to have your software product locked into their OS because it props up their monopoly.

      DRM will do the same thing except at the content level. Gates stated that content consumption is the future of computing and that most computers are used to consume that content. Giving them control of DRM, at any level, gives them a monopoly into another market.

      If you do not enjoy knowing that Microsoft is spying on you with WGA/WGN and other features of Vista then you should move to another platform now and ensure that those favorite movies, music, etc aren't going to be purchases that lock you into a platform that provides Microsoft with the power to spy on you.

      Microsoft has become hostile to its customers and Ballmer is getting hostile toward Linux users. You want to support a company that is hostile not only to its competition but also to its customers? You would not be seeing this had there been adequate competition all along.

      To limit your access to content and hence choice is to allow Microsoft to implement their DRM into your OS and into your devices. This is not something we want. We want less encroachment into our lives. We don't let the police encroach on your life and you should not let private entities encroach. To allow this is to say that it is all right for everyone to have their rights encroached.

      Linux is the only true answer. It currently out paces the Macintosh world wide and is growing by leaps and bounds. With the distro's such as Ubuntu you can have a fantastic desktop environment that plays your movies, music, and other forms of content without those spying prying hostile hands of the convicted monopolist. Linux protects your privacy. Linux protects your future, our future.

      To promote the Zune as a media player worthwhile is to tell everyone that you accept that Microsoft should have control over DRM in that market. We don't want that, we don't need that. We don't need the mediocre nature of Microsoft's products. We need to rapid solid development that projects such as Ubuntu provide us.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      And use a logo you can't flip upside down to read anus. []
  • by Cornflake917 ( 515940 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#18532961) Homepage
    6) ???
    7) Profit
  • A success? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#18532979)
    Well, if you go read the Dvorak article below this one, a device's success is inversely proportional to that douchebag's opinion of the device and it's future.

    So get him to hate it and you'll be all set.
  • Zune? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BandwidthHog ( 257320 ) <inactive.slashdo ...> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:34PM (#18532987) Homepage Journal
    They still make those?

  • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:35PM (#18533009)
    Buy the leading competitor, slap a Microsoft sticker on it and call it 'innovation'?
    • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:40PM (#18533125) Journal
      FooFoobar isn't trolling - this is what Microsoft DOES. I can't really think of many things that they actually created from scratch.

      I dare you to name five.
      • Let them call me a troll. This is what they do with anyone who points out the truth. Microsoft is also realizing that if they can get enough people reading and posting in tech forums daily, they can also quash public opinion too. This is just another example of the facts being rewritten by the corporate machine.
        • Conspiracy theorist much?
          • No... just know how to observe, understand cause and effect and have friends who live and work in Redmond and have been TOLD by management to do such. In fact, it has been all but ordered that people at the company participate in online communities daily and maintain their own blogs (especially on the Microsoft sites).

            It's easy to call it a conspiracy theory when you don't live here in Seattle and hear this shit directly from the mouths of the people who work for the slave masters.
            • I have much more faith in human laziness than I have in somebody who calls Microsoft "slave masters".
              • Ah... oobviously another newbie who just started in the computer industry and has never read 'MicroSerfs'. You do know what a Serf is don't you? And you do know who the keepers of serfs are don't you? Go back to class now newbie. I'm done with todays lesson.
      • OK, I'll give it a shot...

        Word, Excel, Powerpoint, The NT Kernel (Even if they did hire Dave Cutler to do it), and the Intellimouse Explorer.

        • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:20PM (#18533911)

          Word, Excel, Powerpoint, The NT Kernel (Even if they did hire Dave Cutler to do it), and the Intellimouse Explorer.
          Word? Based on WordPerfect. Excel? Lotus. Powerpoint I'll give you. The NT Kernel couldn't have existed without UNIX having done all the work ahead of time. And the Intellimouse Explorer? You've got to be kidding me, right?
          • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#18535343) Journal

            Word? Based on WordPerfect. Excel? Lotus.
            The question was produce an example of a product that Microsoft didn't buy and re-brand, but instead developed in-house. Word took a lot of ideas from WordPerfect (although not some of the best ones, sadly), but was definitely developed in house based largely on Bravo from PARC. The same of Excel, which sadly copied Lotus 1-2-3 (which, itself, copied VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet I used), rather than the far superior Lotus Improv.

            Powerpoint I'll give you.
            Which is such a shame, because PowerPoint actually is one of the few things on the list that was bought by Mircosoft (and was a Mac-only application at the time) and re-branded.

            The NT Kernel couldn't have existed without UNIX having done all the work ahead of time.
            Hahahaha! Do you know even the slightest thing about kernel design (even at the broad-overview undergrad level)? NT and UNIX have almost nothing in common. If you'd said VMS, you might have had some credibility, since a lot of NT is 'inspired by' VMS (and no, it wasn't a copy, it was simply the same person, Dave Cutler, did a lot of the design for both). And no, VMS didn't copy UNIX either, they both date from the same era.

            If you actually want to learn something, instead of just spouting uninformed anti-Microsoft rhetoric, I suggest you read Andy Tanenbaum's excellent Modern Operating Systems [], which covers UNIX/Linux and NT in some detail, highlighting their similarities and differences in both philosophy and implementation.

        • by lpcustom ( 579886 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:21PM (#18533921)
          PowerPoint was developed by a company called Forethought. The company and the product were purchased by Microsoft in 1987 for 14 million bucks.
      • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:12PM (#18533725)

        I can't really think of many things that they actually created from scratch.
        I dare you to name five.
        1. Clippy []
        2. Windows ME []
        3. The BSOD []
        4. Microsoft Bob []
        5. The Three-Finger Salute []

        Is there a prize?
      • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:31PM (#18537661)
        Five things msft invented:

        1) Lying to the US-DoJ with video-taped testomony - and getting away with it.

        2) Astroturf campaign which included letters from dead people - and getting away with it.

        3) Hiring dying micro-cap companies to file bogus lawsuits, and make outragous claims against the competition - and getting away with it.

        4) Creating fake think-tanks that insist the msft is always right, and any action against msft would be anti-capitialist - and getting away with it.

        5) Secretly funded, rigged, benchmark and TCO "studies" - and getting away with it.
  • Microsoft iPod video (Score:3, Informative)

    by a_ghostwheel ( 699776 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:35PM (#18533021)
    There is a video on Youtube about building "Microsoft iPod". It is pretty much sums up why MS should not even be in music player business.
    • The best part about that movie is that it was actually made by Microsoft. It was a sort of self-critique, prior to Zune, of "this is how we shouldn't do it."

      That's what really does it for me -- they know how mediocre an organization they are, but yet they can't seem to stop being lame.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by paladin225 ( 1081575 )
      This [] is the video in question.

      That video should be required watching for Microsoft marketers/engineers/etc.
  • iPod? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sarahbau ( 692647 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:36PM (#18533055)
    In other words, make it an iPod? If MS really wants it to be an iPod killer, it has to beat it in every area, not match it. I think the WiFi was a good idea, but it doesn't have the sexiness or ease of use of the iPod.
    • I agree
      The WiFi is what set it apart. Otherwise, there are hundreds of other mp3 players out there...why not just get them?
    • I think the WiFi was a good idea, but it doesn't have the sexiness or ease of use of the iPod.

      Well, that's Microsoft for you. Even when they come up with a good idea and are first to market with it - and that's rare for them these days - they completely f*** it up.

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      The Wifi was a great idea. The problem is the implementation. The ridiculously low limits make it embarrassing to share a song with a friend, and it's not as easy as it should be (albeit the test I saw was with the in initial release, maybe it's better now).
  • by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <trash.eighty+sla ... minus poet> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:37PM (#18533069)
    I just saw this story: "How Microsoft can make the Zune a Success"
    And right below it: "Dvorak to Apple: Stop the iPhone"
    Logically, you would need to s/Microsoft/Apple, s/Zune/iPhone, s/Apple/Microsoft, s/iPhone/Zune to have proper Slashdot-conforming headlines
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by paladin225 ( 1081575 )
      But then you'd have this:
      "How Microsoft can make the Zune a Success"
      "Dvorak to Microsoft: Stop the Zune"

      What would Slashdot think of that?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wi-fi was a good idea (battery life issues notwithstanding). Crippling it to the point to where it was useless was the bad idea.

    If it had useful Wi-fi and the abilty to install Opera on it, I would have bought one.
  • Wifi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:38PM (#18533087) Journal
    Nothing wrong with built in wifi...That's a solid feature, if it's not crippled. Imagine being able to really share music with people near you, or to do some limited web-browsing, or, even better, listen to internet radio (if there is any left), if you're near a hotspot.

    Crippled as it is, though, it's worthless. It's always the same. Who wants to buy a player that gives you less than other players?
    • If Linux gets ported to it, then I'll buy one. WiFi has amazing potential that's not being realised; running Linux it should be able to do a lot of fun things. Microsoft should take note of the recent Slashdot discussion on the merits of a hackable Apple TV.
  • SWAG (Score:3, Funny)

    by nearlygod ( 641860 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:39PM (#18533101) Homepage
    Give it away for free? That may increase their market penetration... maybe. Perhaps pre-load it with porn? nearlygod
    • by iPaul ( 559200 )
      I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to donate Zunes to various groups, i.e. schools. They helped push SQL Server by giving away consulting time to install/configure/integrate it into environments where they were competing with Oracle.
  • Blog about it's inevitable failure... he's always wrong, or at least redundant.

    Oh wait, he may just be redundant in this case.
  • "2) Tell newbies what is can do." Poor english teachers, at the rate we're torturing them today on /. , some editors are going to end up in prison for crimes against humanity...
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:41PM (#18533167) Journal
    I suppose we can now answer the question, "What can brown do for you?" with a solid negative answer.

    Seriously, though - if they want to make the hardware a success, go find some balls and tell the recording industry they can take their DRM and shove it where the sun don't shine. Once they're done with that, make the thing scream over Wifi. g is good, n is better. Wifi sync. Bluetooth A2DP. Make it play most audio formats - it's not like there's a shortage of ram for the codecs - use the power used for DRM overhead to put in better decoding.

    Quit trying to help the content industry screw the consumers, and it might have a chance - take that 11 digit warchest and help make DRM a thing of the past, and make the Zune the central figure in the battle.

    Or just satisfy yourself that apple will always be cooler than you, and your products will always suck.
    • by mingot ( 665080 )
      That sounds great, but Apple and MS are BOTH are both in a situation where they cannot do that. Well, they could but apple would basically lose iTunes (or at least the majority of the tunes that make up iTunes). MS would lose whatever service they are pushing today. That xbox video marketplace would evaporate like a fart in the wind. Hell, the media companies might love for them to do it. Push us back to buying CD's or piracy (where the RIAA lawsuit machine can make up the difference).
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      The zune could have KILLED the ipod if they removed all the crap they shoveled into it. Wifi with streaming sharing would have satisfied the RIAA idiots, wifi sync to your pc would have rocked, being able to play ALL audio formats (including OGG and FLAC) and not do the stupid treat the customer like a criminal bullcrap that microsoft is famous for today would have given the Zune a start.

      But they need to go further, the connecto on the bottom needed to be redesigned, make it 100% open like the ipod
      • The zune could have KILLED the ipod if they removed all the crap they shoveled into it.
        Give me a fucking break. Even if the Zune had been a great product, I can't see Microsoft overcoming Apple's huge lead.
    • MS has always been very beige box in the way they've made products (hw and sw). The one exception might be XBox.

      The ipod is low on features, but high on style. That just shows that features are not what make this kind of product. The ipod is iconic - you really struggle to find any way to dislodge that.

      MS has always been high on features/low on style (eg. Office).

      MP3 players are not technical products. They are fashion statements. What sane kid will walk around with a Brown Zune Turd in their pocket?

      If MS h

    • I suppose we can now answer the question, "What can brown do for you?" with a solid negative answer.

      Yeah, jack shit.

    • by maeka ( 518272 )

      Seriously, though - if they want to make the hardware a success, go find some balls and tell the recording industry they can take their DRM and shove it where the sun don't shine...Quit trying to help the content industry screw the consumers, and it might have a chance - take that 11 digit warchest and help make DRM a thing of the past, and make the Zune the central figure in the battle.

      That sounds like a great long-term strategy.
      That also sounds like a horrible tactical move.
      In the short term, giving the m

  • 3 words... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Well, 2 and an acronym: NO MORE DRM The popularity of the iPod wouldn't be anywhere near what it has become if not for easily shared music through ripped CDs and pirated music. They just don't get it folks. They refuse to see that their business will get better without DRM.
  • by Senjutsu ( 614542 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:43PM (#18533203)
    The market has spoken here. Subscriptions don't appear to be remotely exciting for most consumers. There seems to be only a small minority who want to pay monthly for access to a lot of different music rather than pay once to permanently have access to a specific set of songs.
    • by iPaul ( 559200 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:50PM (#18533295) Homepage
      I couldn't agree more. I always felt there was a disconnect between industry analysts and actual reality when they brought up subscription services. Most people I know would rather buy the song/album than "have access" to it.
  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:48PM (#18533265) Homepage Journal
    I have a zune, had it for some time now. I do like it, i really do. But it is very frustrating too.

    First off, there has been a skipping issue on some units (mine included), a workaroudn for it meant leaving display on 100% of the time, which did wonders for the battery. Plus, at times navigating in its menus, while they were laid out, it would just lag behind your clicks and presses, then suddenly catch up and do everything you did in frustration.

    Okay, they had a patch in the works for this, firmware 1.3. Rumor had it would be out yesterday.. it actually did make it out today. But even the execution of this shows carelessness...

    For example. the website was down 24 hours tuesday for maintenance. Okay, I understand sometimes you gotta do that, but you're telling me they couldn't put up a mirror? All attempts to do stuff on that day produced an error, and when it did, it would direct you to which didn't come up. You didnt' get the maintenance message even unless you went to (even failed to do this).

    Okay, the patch came out next day, the site's back up. It tells me I have an update. Says downloading... then returns an error message of "unable to update sync settings at this time". calling zune support they have me update the zune software. Same. They have me install zune software on another machine. Same. I told them from the start that I've seen others posting about this on some zune boards. uh-huh. Since I'd redone zune software from their own website, the guy now wants me to instead reinstall it from the original CD, which is lying somewhere in a box in a garage. Most drivers and software should like be obselete by the time you get them, but this is apparently their standard procedure, never mind how that is going to fix what isn't coming through from their website.

    I'm still trying to get 1.3 on my zune now, some 10 hours after first trying. Oh, and btw, the patch notes they have for the 1.3 are verbatim copied from the patch notes from 1.2, including the note about how this includes everything from 1.1 and earlier. (as if 1.2 is not included). Again, its like how much care and effort are they putting into this.

    Oh, but Zune has exciting things on the way, they announced a pink zune. That will get their cool factor going, no doubt.

    Given what microsoft did in the past to people who adopted their tech (playsforsure), I have a real uneasy feeling that they'll release some new hardware that abandon the current zune.

    I want to like this thing, I really do. But they make it so hard. I *do* like the zune pass, it makes most of the frustrations worth it for me, given that I'd downloaded what would have been about $6000-$7000 worth of songs directly if I'd bought them. I like not caring which version of a song I get. I like the look and feel of the player. But they find a way to kill it. Its like Isaiah Thomas is running the Zune team. I know J Allard is supposed to be in charge of it now, but is it really his main focus? I haven't seen any drastic changes since they put him back in charge of it, and quite honestly in his shoes I'd be wanting to go on to other things by now anyway.

    That's pretty much how I feel about it at this time...

    • Did I just read that there will be pink Zunes? They should totally license Nick Drake's song for the ads. "Pink pink pink Zune!"
    • by seifried ( 12921 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @05:07PM (#18534923) Homepage
      This is why I bought myself an iPod, my best friend and iPod, my mother an iPod, my wife an iPod, etc. They just work. I've never heard of anyone with an iPod having anything remotely like your experience, a consumer device that requires 10 hours of fighting to get nowhere in an attempt to correct fundamental problems sounds like a disaster to me.
  • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:50PM (#18533309)
    1. fix the wireless.

    Seriously, that's it.
    There are some details involved, so I'll be more specific:

    add wireless shopping over wifi.
    allow wireless transfer of any data file. (music/pics/vids/arbitrary data)
    don't add DRM to media that didn't start with it. (seriously: how dumb was that?)
    allow wireless syncing and reverse syncing. (moving tunes from the Zune to the PC)
    allow the playback of wireless media that isn't done copying (just buffer it up and let it rip).
    allow wireless transfers in the background. (while listening to something else, while doing something else, etc)

    Do that, and you actually deliver an experience that the iPod doesn't.
    The experience the Zune promised but failed at so horribly that it might as well not exist.

    oh and it'd be nice if the Zune would mount as a generic USB volume, so it could be used to ferry about and wirelessly share arbitrary data files.
  • Beats PSP? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:51PM (#18533319) Homepage Journal
    How does the Zune compare to the Sony PSP, against just the PSP portable media player features?

    And overall, which one is the better buy? What if you own an XBox, or if you own a PS3? How about cross-brand, is either portable anything but useless with the cross-brand console?
  • 'We felt we were addressing the social aspect of music, and the research we've done has shown that people understand the concept that wireless enables sharing ... but the tagline, while provocative, hasn't meant a lot to consumers.'"

    The consumer is all too familiar with incompatible file formats. They also understand the reduced value of restrictions on their squirted tunes. It's easy to notice that this is broken as manufactured. It won't connect to your home network. You can't sync it wirelessly on you
  • Nobody is walking into EBGames to buy music. Why they hell are they trying to plug music players there?
    If they'd like to cut some costs, fire the marketoid who came up with that brain fart.
    If it's going to be a legitimate music device it needs to be in electronics and music stores,
    not game shops taking up space next to the Pokemon trading cards.
  • Here's how (Score:3, Interesting)

    by llZENll ( 545605 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:55PM (#18533407)
    1) The built-in Wi-Fi, aka 'the social,' was a bad idea.
    Not at all, just very badly implemented, let users really share music rather than crippling it. This is actually the best selling point of the device as it is the only thing unique about the zune.

    2) Tell newbies what it can do.
    Hm, this is a poor recommendation, its like saying 'sell more of them'. I think their tagline must be changed ASAP, enter the social just doesn't make sense, as the MS rep knows, I'm sure they are already working on this one.

    3) Create a low-end, flash-based player.
    The best idea here, remove wifi and hd, make it thinner, add 4-8gb of flash and sell it for $99, that would be awesome.

    4) Push subscriptions.
    Don't you think they are already doing this, it doesn't matter how much you push subscriptions, if the person doens't have the device why the hell are they going to subscribe. Perhaps give away devices for subscription plans, like cell phones.

    5) Make it sexy.
    Yes turd brown was a very bad color, it is mute and relaxed and I actually like it, but it doesn't nothing for selling the things, or at least offer all colors including shiney ones, and not just crap brown quake ones.
  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:58PM (#18533461)
    just MHO here, but the WiFi is possibly the most groundbreaking thing it does and it could be much more.

    The problem is MS neutered it so badly that it is simply worthless. Ways to fix? Some of these were mentioned before.

    A) Full sync over wireless
    B) If a file does not have DRM on it, dont PUT DRM ON IT.
    C) Allow people to have a "Sharing" folder or flag. People within wifi distance could then listen to a snip of songs that were sharable and request if they wanted a copy of the song.
    D) Allow for an architecture that would let people set up a "broadcaster" to send/sell songs out to those who request them. For instance, at a live local show the band could have a laptop running in the merchandise booth that gives out a free song from the band to whoever has a Zune and is nearby. Maybe giving them an option to buy the album electronically. Places like Starbucks could then also be music retailers selling their music they play electronically.
    E) Give people a "listen along" option other than "squirting" a song across. That way if you're doing something like working out with a friend you can listen to the friends play list at the same time they are.

    Now admittedly, these won't happen because as has also been mentioned MS would have to tell the media industries to shove DRM requirements up somewhere which makes stuff the same color as some Zunes.
  • Is this Microsoft marketing guy for real? "we're looking at an urban, inner city demographic". Huh? Shouldn't they be looking for a suburban demographic - kids w/ lots of disposable money?

    • You must not go downtown much. You'll see lots of people wearing $300 sneakers, $300 running suits with a $300 mp3 player and a $300 cellphone. Oh and people with lots of gold and diamonds in their mouth.

      Another anomaly is poor people with pimped-out cars. I guess even at $8/hour you can save up or get a credit card. Or you could turn to crime. Urban inner city is a valid demographic.
  • My suggestions. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:01PM (#18533525) Homepage Journal
    1. Play for Sure???? Why doesn't the Zune support Microsoft's own standard for DRM'd music? That bolws a lot of trust that I will get to play my music in the future.
    2. Work with Windows MediaPlayer. You know like Play for Sure devices do.
    3. WiFI sync.
    4. Allow me to sync with my 360 content. Why the heck do we have Play for sure, XBL market place, and the Zune Marketplace??????
    5. Good car interfaces.
  • Put an Apple on the back of it.
    Oh and make it very easy to scratch.
    Actually if they wanted it to be successful they'd make it easy to change the firmware. That's all it would take. It may even be this way but if so I'm unaware of it. Kids like stuff they can mod.
  • Look to the XBox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iPaul ( 559200 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:03PM (#18533555) Homepage
    The Zune 1.0 doesn't make money. It's the Zune 3.1 that makes money. Microsoft can afford a few unprofitable years pushing the Zune, XBox or whatever, because of their deep pockets. Eventually they'll get a better mix of product features and bundling with Windows to create something that people will choose. Just like the XBox wasn't a short term decision for Microsoft, instead looking toward the XBox 360 and successors for the real revenue stream. When dealing with Microsoft you have to remember that they don't make a killer product right out of the gate. They take what they have and build and improve to the point it becomes good or at least good enough. The first versions of IE were a me-too product. However, making it good enough and strapping it to Windows ensured its victory in the browser wars. Declaring Microsoft is "loosing the war" because generation 1 Zunes aren't selling great misses the fact that Microsoft will continue plugging away at it until the Zune (or whatever it morphs into) will be market dominant at some level.
  • ZuneLinux

    The Zune's hardware is much too nice to be sullied by the drm-laden software some insane monkey decided to fling at it.

  • The WiFi is a fine, if not great, idea to add to a music player. The way they marketed and implemented it is crap.
  • The Zune is a "me too" product, and a crippled one at that. It has one clever feature (WiFi), but is just not compelling against all the other players that are out there.

    My MP3 player is an RCA Lyra. I don't need any special software: just plug it in to any computer that groks USB Mass Storage []. I can play any MP3 I want on it. I don't have to screw around with licenses, and I don't have to screw around with locked-down encrypted file formats. Hell, I can (and do) use entirely open-source software to talk

  • I disagree on some points:

    - Open the wifi completely up - drop the timebombs. People who share copyright info are subjective to...well, the mess we already have when they do it with laptops and phones.

    - Allow cloudcasting, where folks can listen to you live
    - Bring on the live recording components. Accessorize!
    - Drop "squirt". Just drop it. It hurts my ears.
    - Sexy means much much more design work. Milky brown is not a color.
    - Hit the market pricepoi
  • Check your GRAMMAR. Maybe Firefox needs little green squiggles in <textarea>s?

    First, tense:
    Zune had potential, but 5 months in it barely get passing grades.

    I'm used to one little typo from /. every here and there, but twice in one article?

    Tell newbies what is can do.

    This bothers me, especially when the quality of articles isn't that great - it makes me want to stop reading sometimes. I hope you guys are using the 'Preview' button, and being editors I'm sure it couldn't hurt to have a frie
  • by rlp ( 11898 )
    > The built-in Wi-Fi, aka 'the social,' was a bad idea.

    Not completely. Let the user sync with their music collection on their PC via WiFi. Let someone who likes purchasing music on-line (or who uses a subscription service) obtain their music via any hotspot (this will require built-in SSL, but so what). As far as using it for 'squirting' music to people - yeah, that WAS a bad idea. And as for "Welcome to the social" - hire a new PR firm.
  • "Your Favorite Band Sucks" - I think that's why the networking stuff didn't work so well - I just don't much care what other people are listening to. If there was a statistical matching program that matched me up with other people that liked a lot of the same music, then we might have something, but I really don't want to be bombarded by top 40 all the time.

  • by FirstTimeCaller ( 521493 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:29PM (#18534083)

    people understand the concept that wireless enables sharing ...

    Except that it doesn't enable sharing! At least not in a timely fashion and not without encumbering it with the most restrictive DRM ever.

    The sharing idea is nice, but I wonder if it would have been more effective if it were implemented using Bluetooth -- allowing a Zune to essentially act as a wireless headphone to another. This way you can hear what I'm hearing and I can play DJ for a group of friends (if I had any). If you like a song you can tag it and download/purchase it later. This seems much more social and no one needs to get squirted.

  • Core problems. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:33PM (#18534173)
    At it's core, the original concept for the Zune wasn't a bad one. It's the implementation of those ideas that have brought about failure.

    First, design and develop the product from scratch. One of the reasons the iPod is a success is because Apple is involved in every aspect of that device's development. First, Apple has a clear design concept. Keep things simple. It drives the look and feel of both the hardware and software. Secondly, everything is done within a single company and there is obviously open communication between the various departments responsible for it's development. This ensures the software works seamlessly with the hardware. It's why the device is so easy to use. I'm convinced this is why a true competitor to the iPod doesn't yet exist.

    So this was Microsoft's first problem. They took an existing Toshiba MP3 player, gave it a new shell and had to develop software around that. They should have set up a partnership with a manufacturer and had them build a device around their own specs. That's obviously a lot more expensive, but if they want to seriously compete with the iPod they can't compromise.

    As I've mentioned, Microsoft limited by the fact that they were working around an existing device. But I think they made a few design mistakes. I actually thought the brown version wasn't too bad. But I do agree, brown isn't usually on the top of anyone's list for colors they'd like to see electronics come in.

    I imagine the decision was made to go with unconventional colors to steer away from everyone trying to knock off the iPod's color scheme. I do tend to find it annoying that everyone just copies what Apple does. Apple's products look nice, but there's untold potential for different and equally attractive designs.

    In general I thought the Zune was attractive. But it doesn't quite have the elegance of an iPod. Interestingly, although it isn't really much larger than an iPod. But it looks gigantic whereas the iPod looks smaller than it is.

    And of course, another big flaw in the Zune is limited functionality. Well, it's more of a problem that Microsoft promoted the hell out of some features, like WIFI, but then crippled the hell out of them with DRM crap.

    Contrary to what Apple's marketing department claims, Apple doesn't really innovate. They don't try to implement all the latest features into their products. However, I think that's what makes them so successful. What features their products do have work extremely well and are easy to use. Apple knows how to keep things simple.

    Given how Microsoft does things I don't think this is a problem they'll ever be able to overcome.
  • by SleepyHappyDoc ( 813919 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:36PM (#18534213)
    If they ever decided to make something like this, in which the WiFi could be used to access the hard drive in the Zune, for use as a small portable NAS (for everything from wirelessly syncing media to it, to showing up in My Computer as a wireless hard drive for transferring data), along with a bit of Outlook integration (contacts and email reading), I'd be there. It should be technically capable of doing all this now, it just needs the software and a bit of vision.
  • Kids will use phones. Kids use phones for social status, for communications, and for entertainment. The opening in the MP3 player market, if there is one, is the phone for kids based model.

    First, MS can remake the Zune to be cheap. An iPod nano is $150. MS has to make them them for $00.

    Second, given them away with a two year subscription. Kids often want the top 40 music, whatever their friends have, and I often see them paying a few dollars for a bootleg copy. Set the subscription to $10-$15 a mont

  • by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:48PM (#18534471) Homepage
    Such a capable player in terms of hardware, but you can only use the WiFi to share songs if you know someone else who has a Zune!?

    Granted there may be some security aspects to having a player which can synchronise over the network or do rudimentary web browsing even if it's just to browse the URGE store, what about the ability to plug it right into your digital camera and offload the photos, does it do TV output like the iPod, could it play standard MPEG4/AAC video (like the iPod) rather than WMA (no reason why all the Zune tools can't stick to WMV/WMA though, the same way nobody has to play URGE WMA rather than MP3). What about plugging it into your HiFi and streaming from Windows Media Player 11?
  • On "the social"... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonesvery ( 121897 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @04:49PM (#18534487) Homepage Journal
    A Microsoft representative said, about the wireless concept: 'We felt we were addressing the social aspect of music, and the research we've done has shown that people understand the concept that wireless enables sharing ... but the tagline, while provocative, hasn't meant a lot to consumers.'"

    The quote points out incredibly well what the problem with "the social" was: it was a tagline, nothing more. In order to run "the social" as the tagline for the launch campaign, Microsoft marketing had to ignore:

    • The fact that shared music can't be passed on.
    • The fact that shared music dies after 3 days/3 plays.
    • The fact that a significant percentage of the music sold for the Zune couldn't be shared at all.
    • And let us not forget my favorite: the fact that it's still apparently impossible to find another Zune user to share music with.

    Eh...I've ranted about this so many times I can't rant no more. If you actually want to read more about it, check out the Zunebox Proposal [] or the catalog of failure and incompetence [] that is the blog posts I've written about the Zune's marketing.

    • about your favorite (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      There others tro share with, not many granted.
      The problem is MS, once again, does not understand the user, or one of the key reasons the user is using the product.

      1) Don't interupt someones song whenever someone wants to conect. Flash something on the screen in case thre watching it, let them turn off any indicator, and allow them to let iother people dump music for later review.

      Put the power in the users hands.

      2) People listening to music are saying "I am not interested in what sounds are around me."
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @06:20PM (#18536115) Homepage
    1. It must be physically smaller than iPod of the same capacity
    2. It must have click wheel or some other sort of touch sensitive technology that allows me to intuitively navigate and quickly change volume.
    3. Wi-Fi sharing must work over the internet. I mean, really, why the fuck not?
    4. It must be able to stream music from my PC wirelessly.
    5. It must cost $50 less than iPod.
    6. A marketing campaign without penises and asses in commercials.

    Tall order? You bet. But that's what you have to do when you're entering a well established market.

  • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:41PM (#18537731)
    microsoft couldn't make a sexy product if they stuck a fuckable vagina on it.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @09:16PM (#18538003) Journal
    Comment intentionally left blank.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend