Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win.

“The announcement of Zune did one thing, if one thing only. It didn’t just send fear through the hearts of iPod product planners, but through those beating organs of Microsoft partners too,” Charlie Demerjian writes for The Inquirer. “For the Vole has a long history of screwing its partners, sometimes on a whim, sometimes with planning, and we are in the midst of another chapter of that book.”

“For those of you living in a cave, Apple built a better mousetrap, painted it white, and made it the object of pretentious fashion-slaves everywhere. They sell by the millions, and Apple now controls about 80 per cent of that market. Microsoft came along with a slew of third-rate, knock-off technologies, none of which is worth writing about, with crushing DRM baked in to the DNA,” Demerjian writes. “The software giant did about as well as the guy at the county fair offering to hit you on the head with a crowbar for a mere $100, and now all the other Microsoft providers together control a quarter of Apple’s marketshare.”

Demerjian writes, “For the first time, Microsoft is making the damn thing instead of licensing the code or protocols. You have companies like iRiver who make really great products on an R&D budget less than what the Vole spends on coffee for its ad people. It won’t be able to compete. So, with Zune, Microsoft is going to take an already fragmented market, IE not iPod, and steamroller over it. In a year, you will have a choice between iPod and Zune, with a bunch of no-name store brand clones clinging by their fingernails to the low-margin market. If you made the mistake of partnering with Microsoft over media players, you are going to get crushed.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy” for the heads up.]
By SteveJack

On one hand, Microsoft’s “partners” deserve what’s coming to them because they really have failed quite miserably. On the other hand, Microsoft remains one of the scummiest companies on earth.

Apple cannot lose. And Microsoft cannot win. That Microsoft is even trying Zune now only highlights their rampant mismanagement and bad decision-making.

The Zune announcement didn’t send fear through the hearts of iPod product planners, it sent laughter from their bellies.

If Microsoft’s Zune shows any real signs of life — a longshot based on history; Microsoft’s been trying to best iPod for half a decade already — Apple CEO Steve Jobs can simply license FairPlay to Microsoft’s former “partners” at very favorable terms to Apple, as they do face Microsoft’s big scary steamroller. Favorable terms will naturally include dropping “Plays For Sure” Windows Media DRM compatibility and FairPlay exclusivity for an extended period of time.

People aren’t going to stop buying iPods just because some other lesser companies finally have iTunes-compatible players. Ditto for buying from the iTunes Store. Jobs has to be thanking Microsoft which must be why he goaded them into this Zune nonsense in the first place. After everyone else licenses FairPlay from Apple, then everyone — except Microsoft — will be iPod+iTunes compatible. Game. Set. Match.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

[Update: 1:50pm EDT: revised “past history” to read simply “history.”]

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  1. Steve Jobs is not afraid of what MS would do with their music/entertainment player. I know the good reputation Steve Job has is that he keeps his business 5 years ahead of modern technology. So don’t worry about Zune.

  2. oh come on.

    this is so lame.

    apple cannot lose? yeah, they can. monopolies don’t last forever people, and microsoft can build a better mousetrap. or at least a very compelling one that will cause some to buy the zune instead of the ipod.

    this site is sometiems great for news, but this is total trash.

  3. I hate when MDN takes get so damn arrogant.

    Zune is not released, we know nothing about it. It may be shit, it may be great.. It may flop, it may succeed. The point is, WE DON’T KNOW..

    So lose the arrogance and wait until the product is released before you spout off your childish assumptions.

  4. It remains to be seen whether or not licensing FairPlay to the also-rans will ever be necessary. For as long as Apple continues to maintain 70-80% marketshare it certainly isn’t.

    All this Zune is going to accomplish is to dominate the 20-25% of the market (while crushing their former partners in the process) that Apple doesn’t already have. In the end, Microsoft won’t have any more marketshare than they did before with the ill-fated PlaysForSure scheme.

    Apple has already sold well over 1 billion songs and 35 million videos via the iTMS, all of which will be 100% incompatible with Zune. Those people aren’t just going to scrap their purchased music and video libraries and start all over again simply because Microsoft asks them to.

  5. Over at Mini-Microsoft’s blog http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/07/we-are-fam-ily-links.html Mini obviously thinks different.

    Quote: “….Are we screwing our partners? I don’t think so. We’ve given them a great platform to implement Plays for Sure and plenty of time to innovate long before we come along and try implementing a device.”

    So since iRiver, Creative etc haven’t won the battle for us, it’s OK to screw them.

    That’s alright then. For all the fact that Mini (an MS insider) is one of the most vociferous critics of the current MS hierarchy, he’s obviously a true Microsoftie at heart. Winning is all and screw anyone who gets in the way.

  6. Zune 1.0 = iPod Gen 1 in form factor and design, maybe Gen 3 if we are feeling generous. Typical MS, always about 3 generations behind anything Apple does. But the MS crazies will think the Zune is the “latest and greatest” just like Vista with no credit given to Apple.

    iPod Gen 6 with a widescreen, full flash based memory (think very thin) and proximity input will completely blow away the Zune.

    Plus I bet a new aluminum nano in multiple colors and a larger screen will be released since the original mini was so popular.

    And yes, Apple will beat MS to the movie offerings on iTunes.

  7. Microsoft is alienating their current partners. When all those partners get fed up and drop ‘Plays For Sure’ and their ties to Microsoft, what will happen if Apple steps forward and offers to license them FairPlay? At that point, Apple’s format will become the undisputed industry standard, while Microsoft’s will become a niche player, and it will be too late for them. Even if Microsoft then realizes what has happened and tries to get back in good terms with their former partners, the current backstab will most likely not be forgotten,. Who would choose any Microsoft solution for their player when they could have access to FairPlay and all that it implies?

    The headline and the MacDailyNews Take are 100% correct.

    I have written more at Softpedia Zune- A Major Threat To Everyone Except Apple

  8. Whether you happen to care about Zune or not, it is germane to Apple and will affect future product dev and/or company strategy.

    If you’re tired of Zune stories, the subject is clearly indicated in the headline, so don’t click it. Simple enough?

  9. The funniest thing is that people act as though the Zune were something completely independent of any other effort Microsoft has ever made. This allows them to say, “Hey, Microsoft could get it right this time!” with a straight face. People, are you the same ones saying that last line about Windows? How long have you been saying it? What makes you think that Microsoft can innovate anything at all? That’s not their corporate DNA. Again, to state the obvious — Microsoft either buys its competitors, or it imitates them with derivative designs or functionality to avoid the courts. Then, it simply spends the other companies into the ground. If you’re expecting something novel, exciting, and different from that company, you are incredibly deluded.

  10. Microsoft will do magrinally well with this venture….why? well every non techno savvy person that buys the cheapest PC money can buy will be directed to this store/player combo….microsoft will do ok with this unfortunatly…but thats the only reason why

    uninformed users

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