Microsoft Agrees To Put A Copyright Cop On The Zune

from the not-quite-how-you-grow-your-market-share dept

Want to know exactly what not to do in order to build up marketshare against a formidable competitor? It's doing what Microsoft appears to be doing with the Zune: making it less useful for buyers. Remember, last month NBC Universal claimed that the reason it was keeping TV shows off of iTunes was because Apple refused to build a filter that would try to spot other unauthorized material and block it from getting on the iPod. So, with Microsoft announcing a deal to carry NBC TV shows for the Zune... the question had to be asked. And, yes, NBC is claiming that it went with Microsoft because Microsoft has agreed to build a copyright cop into the Zune. In other words, if you want the "legitimate" version of Heroes on your Zune, you may no longer be able to transfer lots of other content onto your Zune. This from the company that is already struggling to find people to buy a Zune.

It's difficult to figure out which side is making the bigger mistake here, so we'll just say that both companies are working hard to drag each other down. First off, Microsoft. Apparently not having learned anything from recent DRM debacles, building a special copyright cop into the Zune software immediately makes the device that much less useful. Any such filter will be more of a nuisance than anything else. While it may temporarily cause annoyance to some users, those who really want to get content onto their Zunes will figure out other ways -- so this will only serve to piss them off. And, in many cases it will (yes, it will) stop the perfectly legitimate transfer of content to the Zune. So, it won't serve the purpose, but it will piss people off. Why would anyone buy into that plan?

As for NBC, remember, we're talking about TV shows here. TV shows that the company already distributes for free. You want as many people watching these shows as possible. Stop worrying about "piracy" and focus on making it as damn easy as possible for as many people to watch the shows as possible, and just include a few non-intrusive, non-annoying (but very entertaining) advertisements in there and everything will be great. Pissing off the very people you're trying to get to watch your (free!) TV shows doesn't seem like a strategy that's going to make many fans happy. They have plenty of other options on what to do with their time. Even worse, making sure that the only way that owners of iPods (the dominant player in the market) can see your shows is to get them from unauthorized sources (of which there are plenty) doesn't seem particularly smart.

These are rather simple things that should be obvious to anyone online at this point. That folks at Microsoft and NBC Universal seem to not realize them gives you a hint of what direction both companies are heading in with this effort. Update: Microsoft is denying the NY Times story. Update 2: Microsoft PR points us to Microsoft's blog statement denying the story as well. Reading between the lines, it sounds like NBC brought it up and Microsoft basically said "we'll think about it," but hasn't promised to do anything.
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Filed Under: copyright, copyright cop, media players, tv shows, zune
Companies: apple, microsoft, nbc universal


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  1. identicon
    Warren, 7 May 2008 @ 11:46am

    The real reason

    I really think the reason NBC is so paranoid about copy protecting their TV shows is that they're trying to protect their DVD sales. You get a bunch of commercial-free (or commercial-limited) digital copies of Heroes or other shows floating around, and people aren't going to buy the DVD sets. That's $50 a pop. NBC doesn't care if it kills the Zune platform.

    Microsoft is looking so short-term in this one that it's scary. They're trying so hard to get one over on Apple that they don't see (or won't see) that this could kill the Zune.

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