Microsoft's entry into the portable music space has been more whimper than bang, with the unit seeing fairly brisk sales early on, only to have consumer interest quickly wane. The Zune was designed to be direct competition for the iPod, but actually fell to fifth place after black Friday behind products from SanDisk, Disney, Creative and Memorex. Zune reviews have been mixed, with one of the more annoying shortcomings being that the much ballyhooed WiFi functionality falls short -- prohibiting you from doing any of the cool things you'd expect to be able to do with a wireless music player. Last week Microsoft worked hard to defend Zune sales by saying their internal expectations (1 million by June) were on target. This week they've announced their miracle solution to the lack of consumer interest: pour more money into an already bloated advertising budget to highlight the device's largely unused music sharing capabilities. Drawing even more attention to the crippled WiFi functionality of the Zune probably isn't the answer; instead why not un-cripple the WiFi, embrace the hacker and hobbyist community, and truly let it differentiate itself in the marketplace as an open and user-friendly device? Fattening up the Zune advertising budget does nothing to improve on the device's shortcomings.
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