Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just don't get it

This article is a great example of why gadget loving techies just don't get it when it comes to consumer electronics in general, and the iPod in particular. The iPod is "under featured" and popular, which means that gadget heads heap scorn upon it. They're welcome to their opinions, of course, but their position is not a common one.

Microsoft is coming out with an iPod competitor called the Zune. I don't know much about the player yet, but I'm sure it will have more features than the iPod and be competitively priced. I'm not sure it will do well. If Microsoft listens to gadget heads, then I'm sure it will do badly, just as all the other "cheaper and with more features" iPod competitors have done.
•The Zune has a large screen. The 3-inch screen is 50% larger than the 5G iPod's. One of the main complaints iPod users have is that the screen is just too small to watch video on.
Umm, the iPod is about listening to music. This is like complaining about a car because it does not have a built-in toaster.

•The Zune has community. The WiFi and DJ features will let you share music with other Zune users, meaning there's more reason for you to use the Zune if your friend Steve has one as well.
Umm, if something does not work well for an individual, there will never be any community for them to join.

•The Zune has Microsoft. Don't doubt the financial backing of the largest software maker.
Microsoft could gain market share by selling units at a loss. They could probably gain even more market share if they strapped hundred dollar bills to the Zunes and handed them out on the street. You could then take that money and spend it on a new iPod.

•The Zune has the anti-iPod crowd. If you saw through the excitement of the Apple Showtime event yesterday, you'll notice that the iPod didn't really get any significant updates. Brighter screen and longer battery life? New body for the iPod Nano and memory bump?
Hard to argue with. The Zune is not an iPod, so anyone who does not want an iPod and wants something else may get the Zune. Or a toaster. You can use a toaster to toast bread -- great feature!

•The Zune has a future. To get the Zune out in time for Christmas '06, Microsoft had to partner with Toshiba and use their Gigabeat design as a bootstrap.
Cool. I will check it out in the future.

I'm not an iPod devotee (although I do like them) nor am I a Microsoft basher. I do find it frustrating that people don't understand what made the iPod so great. The iPod was not the first portable mp3 player out there, nor was it the cheapest, nor was it the most fully featured. It just made it really easy to get all your songs in one place and carry them around with you. The cheaper, more featurific flash based players could only fit about 20 songs, which meant you needed to keep messing about with your USB cable and their crappy software everytime you wanted some new tunes. You just plugged the iPod in, put it on shuffle, and suddenly our life had a sound track. A great experience.


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