How To Make Zune An iPod Killer: Turn It Into A PDA?

from the um-okay dept

Microsoft's Zune was supposed to be the latest in a long line of would-be "iPod killers", however, like such stellar previous attempts like the Dell DJ, it hasn't been met with much enthusiasm. A column runs down the criticisms leveled at the Zune (poor hardware, poor usability, compatibility problems -- in other words, pretty much everything), and says that to make the Zune more desirable, Microsoft needs to make it "more like Windows". That conjures up all sorts of possibilities in the mind, but the writer somehow takes that to mean making the Zune more open to customization and modification, as opposed to "Apple's strict gadget lockdown". He says Microsoft should create a development environment for the Zune, giving out free developer tools and fostering the creation of new applications and uses for the Zune. Which sounds pretty much exactly like... the development environment Microsoft's created around Windows Mobile PDAs, and last time we checked, that ecosystem wasn't exactly helping Pocket PCs destroy the iPod. While it's inevitable that convergence will see music and other media playback features rolled into devices like mobile phones, standalone devices will continue to thrive until converged devices can offer a comparable user experience to players such as the iPod -- and that's where Zune falls down. And never mind that Microsoft's willingess to accede to record labels and favor their interests over those of users means the iPod's probably safe for a while yet. Microsoft's corporate culture makes it hard pressed to come up with something that can compete favorably against the iPod. Perhaps instead of trying to create an iPod killer of its own, its time would be better spent improving its software so that a hipper and more nimble company could build one instead.

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  • identicon
    zune_sucks, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:07pm

    first look at zune

    Yesterday i saw the zune for the first time and my first impression was it looked like a brick. Ugly and thick. The interface also sucked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2007 @ 9:05am

      Re: first look at zune

      Actually, the interface isn't bad at all, a little bit more intuitive than the Ipods, but the Ipod is just a much more polished and slicker unit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ianspooner, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:17pm

    ummm... what?

    //more like Windows\... ummm... green? ugly? oh wait, it already is!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:27pm

    A few looks at Zune

    I for one like the Zune. I like the look and the look of the interface. I like the ability to customize the background. I like the bigger screen. Navigation buttons are not ipod quality, but they work well and aren't too complicated. And, it has a radio which is nice. If I hadn't just gotten the Sansa e270, I'd pick one up myself. Unfortunately too many people are ipod snobs to consider other alternatives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      harrison, 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:39pm

      Re: A few looks at Zune

      Do you work for Microsoft?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Frank, 24 Nov 2006 @ 10:06am

        Re: Re: A few looks at Zune

        Do you work for Microsoft?

        Do you work for Apple?

        People can have legitimate differences of opinion. Please note, I haven't looked at the Zune, and probably won't. I prefer my now ancient San Disk that uses standard thumb drives for memory -- and does not have DRM.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    flesh99, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Combo devices are not every "killers"

    Archos has a great media player/PDA out it's nowhere near a killer. The PMA 430 is a really good device but their plain media players still outsell the combo units. Combo devices are notorious for not doing either end of whatever they combine as well as devices designed specifically for a single function. I don't think MS's Zune does media well enough for them to consider adding to the functionality. Their name wasn't enough to cause a stir and their functionality wasn't innovative enough to do so either. MS needs to concentrate on what they do best...nevermind they already did and not even their marketing force could help the Zune...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:38pm

    Ipod Snobs

    I am not sure what Brian meant by that, I admit I have an iPod and I like it. I like it because it WORKS....I don't have to read a manual, I don't have to think about it ....I just get to use it. I have found this to be the case with all Apple products. I don't want to learn how to use it, I want to use it. iPod snob, what a funny term....when something works so well, I am not sure why you are snob if you use it. If somebody comes up with a better MP3 player, or a better OS, I will buy it, so far nobody has.

    Having the best doesn't make you a snob, in fact from my experience with Apple products it makes you a smarter consumer. Has anyone noticed that the shelf life of an Apple products seems to be a lot longer than any of the other products on the market. I know what people say when they mention BRICK...my top of the line Dell LapLOAD is a BRICK and I hate to travel with it...my Apple laptop is a joy to travel with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:52pm

      Re: Ipod Snobs

      If you don't exhibit the bahavior of a snob, then you aren't one.

      Please don't try and tell me that you have never met someone jaded over their ipod to the point of refusing to intelligently consider alternatives...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Guthrey, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Ipod Snobs

      Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one, and they all stink.

      I don't understand why people feel like they have to impose their opinions on everyone else. If you like ipod's then buy one, and if you don't then buy something else. Don't chastise people if they don't like ipod's and vise versa. It's stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Erik, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:36pm

      Re: Ipod Snobs

      "Having the best doesn't make you a snob" may be a true statement, but calling something "the best" because it's the best for you certainly does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      harrison, 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Ipod Snobs

      Amen brother! I work on both machines, Apple and Microsoft, and the Apple wins. You tell that to a Microsoft die-hard and they flip their lids. I personally don't like to re-build the machine when I first get it to make it work properly. The only reason I have a Dell is because I do a lot of Microsoft development.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wake Up and Be Real, 27 Nov 2006 @ 3:11pm

      Re: Ipod Snobs

      The iPOD just works....Apple products in general just work.....such BS Who are you kidding!!! I have had three...yes three Apple iPods, the Mini, the Nano and the Video iPod. None have lasted more than a few days without a problem and the first two were exchanged while the Video iPod I just returned...three stikes was enough. For all you iPOD pushers one look at Apple own tech support page http://www.apple.com/support/ will tell you that there are many iPOD issues. If that isn't enough to get you iPOD snobs to lower your noses do a quick search on Google. The words ipod error returned 14,300,000 results. There is, and always has ben a VERY HIGH return on iPODs even when you consider that most retailers sell many more iPODS than all other models combined. I sell many brands of MP3 players and the iPods sell probably 6:1 over all ther barnds combined. Does that mean they are better...no...just better at Marketing the product. The only thing ...I mean the only thing that I miss about my iPOd is the availability of accessories. The iPOD is no different than the Motorolla Razor phone. It's overpriced, but sexy looking so the public buy it. It's that simple, Mac spends more effort than most companies on making the product look nice instead of durable. I'd rather have my WORKING Creative Labs Zen Micro than another iDUD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave McHovan, 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:52pm

    That PDA already exists

    I've been using the Dell Axim X51v for about a year. It has a 640 x 480 screen - I use my PC with Windows Media Edition to record TV shows, and then send them to the PDA. Works great.
    So I could use it for just music / video (ipod like functions), but since it can do much more with Mobile 5, it is a better device to carry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:02pm

    All Apple users are like that. The problem is; they are shut in with the whole Metro-Mac fashion. That was Job's goal. Get people to love the image and not the product. Cause let's face it, Mp3 players have been around for a long time. Way before Ipod, but no one cared, until Apple injected publicity straight into everyone's veins. All Mp3 players are simple. Hell all they do is play music, it's not like they are being used for Quantum Mathematics... But i currently own a Zune, and to tell you the truth it's by far the best Mp3 player i've owned. And the seamless Xbox-PC-Zune combo is amazing, with one click i've got my PC streaming all my media files (music, picture, and movies) over to my 360. So i can have all my movies on my drive upstairs, but still be watching them on the 57 inch downstairs... That to me is cool.

    My 3 cents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2006 @ 5:42pm

      Re:

      How does having a Zune factor into being able to access your media on your computer from your 360? I can access all my media on my computer through my 360, and I can plug in anyone's iPod to my 360 and play their music on it as well. I don't really see how having a Zune makes the combo any better than having an iPod.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sqinky, 24 Nov 2006 @ 1:02am

      Re: All Apple users are like that

      I have an iPod Nano, and for the purposse I bought it, it seemed to be the best option at the time. It's solid-state (no HDD to fail) it is light weight, sounds great and is ultra portable. For the record I've built 5+ Windows based PCs in the last 4 years and I can't imagine buying a Mac, and I've owned MP3 players by Sonic Blue & Sony (neither of which have performed as well as my iPod). So I guess I'm and Apple user who probably does not fit your stereotype.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    innerdaemon, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:12pm

    9.

    "All Apple users are like that. The problem is; they are shut in with the whole Metro-Mac fashion. That was Job's goal. Get people to love the image and not the product."

    Uh? So all the ipod people just love strutting around the ipod because its cool but dont care for the product? But, can there really be 67 million people who are just so vain? And I here I am thinking Jobs' goal was to sell a product. Doh!

    "All Mp3 players are simple. Hell all they do is play music, it's not like they are being used for Quantum Mathematics... But i currently own a Zune, and to tell you the truth it's by far the best Mp3 player i've owned."

    Oh, I get it. You like the product for what it is, but iPod people just like the image and not the product? Ok, cool. Good for you. Why can't you stupid "Metro-macs" not see this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UniBoy, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:20pm

    Zune Thud...

    Look at the data folks. So far, the Zune launch has been a resounding failure.

    iPod Killer? Well, it would appear not in this case.

    But that does not mean an iPod killer CAN'T be built. Eventually, it will happen. Until then, all I have to say to Microsoft is:

    "Next..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tyshaun, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:47pm

    Absolutely...

    Uh? So all the ipod people just love strutting around the ipod because its cool but dont care for the product? But, can there really be 67 million people who are just so vain? And I here I am thinking Jobs' goal was to sell a product. Doh!

    Absolutely 67 million people can be that vain! To quote from Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black:

    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.

    How many stupid fads have we seen because people are directly affected by media hype as opposed to good thinking. Tickle me elmos, cabbage patch kids, pound puppies, ferbies, pet rocks, whatever, we sometimes want stuff just because "everyone else has it", not because its really something we need or is the best of a particular product line.

    As it was said before, Mp3 players were around long before IPod, the only significant thing IPod did was infuse marketing muscle into a relatively soft sector and was able to get the covetted "brand name" association as a result.

    I've owned a couple of Mp3 players and honestly I've seen better and worse than IPod and never understood the near fanatical allegiance people have to it.

    As per the Zune, Microsoft really messed up the marketing for it. The larger issue is that I think it's silly to try to topple the IPod unless you have something so innovative it changes the paradigm on what the sector is about. As I said before, IPod is the "brand name" of the sector. It be like trying to dethrown "band-aids" as the number one selling adhesive bandage.

    For the record, I own neither an IPod or a Zune Mp3 player. I have a much less expensive, but still kick ass, Creative Labs Player.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chucklebutte, 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:48pm

    are people really that stupid?

    i just dont get these hip mp3 players riddled with DRM. currently i have a vx6700 from verizon smart phone. PDA, cell phone, mp3 player, runs windows mobile 5.0, etc etc etc. its a lil pocket computer for sure full keyboard and all my last phone was a treo 650 pretty much samething. my point is these devices already exsist so why would you want an ipod? did i mention the bluetooth motorola stereo head sets u can use with these devices and listen to your music wirelessly >.> idk call me crazy but i dont see the point to shill out 100+ dollars for a useless locked down device, that you can get somewhere else for almost the same price but with so much more....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Buck, 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:13pm

    ZUNE "Social Networking" feature

    WHAT IF ZUNE "Social Networking" feature, has little to do with social
    networking.

    Consider this: What if it is a Point of Purchase feature? Where
    displays are set up in malls, and CD retailers that have the wireless
    networking to ZUNE available, and allowing consumers to freely SAMPLE
    NEW SONGS!


    After listening three times, they can choose to buy it.


    http://myfreepress.com/2006/11/16.html#a4006

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PhysicsGuy, 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:35pm

    wow..

    and so the flames abound... let me contribute... mac users ARE smug, they always consider their product to be "the best" even though there are better products... they've bought into a brand name and have become fanboys... not all mac users are like this... i've known plenty with whom you can have an intelligent conversation about other products without constantly referencing how their apple product is "better". however, the majority are not like this without even knowing it... for a lot, i think it's because they bought a product which is functional and they take offense because they think when someone is proclaiming another product to be good that it is taking a cheap shot at their product. this is not the case most of the time. however, i will state, apple products suck...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dino Husejnovic, 22 Nov 2006 @ 10:28pm

    Pocket PC and Zune

    I own a T-Mobile MDA Vario, and it is the best Qwerty pocket pc i've ever used. it's my everything. I love listening to music on it, and since it runs windows, and zune is made by microsoft, why can't microsoft make an app for pocket pc so we can share music with zune's. They both have WiFi, so why not? I have a 2GB SD card, with tons of MP3's on there. I know a couple people with Zune's, and i would love to sample some of their music when i'm around them. That kind of integration would be amazing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tervor, 23 Nov 2006 @ 3:00am

    And the general public WHO MAKE THESE THINGS SUCCESSFUL would want applications for it why?

    Why do nerds never understand things like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John C. Randolph, 23 Nov 2006 @ 3:54am

    You're kidding, right?

    So, you want this thing to morph into a PDA, huh? Like that "Origami" thing that came out a couple of months ago? After all, that was a rousing success, wasn't it? It must have sold dozens of units! Dozens!
    -jcr

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 23 Nov 2006 @ 8:15am

    Funny

    Funny how people call other people who use IPODs snobs. I have used Creative and used Archos. I perfer the Ipod to both of them. Sure the other players have a radio but who needs a radio if you have a 600 song collection commercial free. Sure the Zune has a tiny bigger screen but who cares? Would be great for pictures but watching movies won't make a bit of difference. Microsoft also followed the Verizon route and disabled the wireless to pc connection. Microsoft is making you repurchase the music that you already bought from them. The IPOD is a solid player, simple interface, and you don't need a 200 page manual to understand it.

    Before people start calling other people who buy IPOD snobs, maybe you should look at your own buying habits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rishi, 23 Nov 2006 @ 11:28am

    Microsoft has a tradition of making the third version work. Let us see the third version of the Zune and then compare it with the Ipod

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dennis, 23 Nov 2006 @ 9:36pm

    If Zune wants to be an iPod killer...

    It needs to play the video formats that people already have (from downloading): i.e. Divx/XviD. No one wants to have to re-convert files just so they can watch it.

    Imagine if the iPod only played AAC music files. It WOULD NOT as successful as it is today. Why support un-DRMed music but not video???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Pate, 24 Nov 2006 @ 2:30pm

    Windows Mobile

    I was watching a commercial for Windows Mobile on CnetTv and the spokesperson says that "Now that I have a phone with Windows Mobile on it, I leave my MP3 player at home." My first thought was, Why is Microsoft trying to kill a market and enter into it at the same time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A chicken passeth by, 26 Nov 2006 @ 9:48pm

    "i just dont get these hip mp3 players riddled with DRM. currently i have a vx6700 from verizon smart phone. PDA, cell phone, mp3 player, runs windows mobile 5.0, etc etc etc. its a lil pocket computer for sure full keyboard and all my last phone was a treo 650 pretty much samething. my point is these devices already exsist so why would you want an ipod?"

    I'd agree with you, only that iPods come with tons more space built in (3G and greater) for a cheaper price on average, brand new. As it is, our converged devices have max capacities and no way to increase them other than SD-Cards, and the 4GB ones aren't really supported 100%.

    Still, I won't give up my O2 mini for anything other than a similar device. Even with activsync, it just does... everything better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    iPod owner, 5 Dec 2006 @ 7:40pm

    happy owner

    Had my iPod for like 4 years and it's still workin perfectly... Just my experience. Been a long time since I been this happy with a portable music player...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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