In wake of Zune announcement, should ex-Microsoft ‘partners’ join iPod ecosystem?

“Nearly five years have passed since Apple introduced the first-generation iPod – the one from that crazy, 3% market share company everyone knew would never win over mainstream consumers. Since then, a few things have happened. The iPod became popular, and hundreds of competitors have been released, many by companies working with Microsoft under programs such as Windows Media and PlaysForSure. Today, over 120 devices are now PlaysForSure-certified, but none has made a dent in the iPod’s sales: even during a lull in its incredibly aggressive rollout of new iPod models, the company has sold more iPod units than all of its portable competitors put together. There are now between 60 or 70 million iPods out there, and by 2007, the number will be much higher,” Jeremy Horwitz writes for iLounge.

“So we’d like to make a friendly suggestion to Creative Labs, iRiver, and other iPod rivals, but it’s not the one they’re expecting: you don’t have to quit making portable media hardware. Just follow Philips’ lead and make a few products that are iPod-compatible,” Horwitz writes.

“Within six months, Microsoft’s marketing dollars are going to stop focusing on PlaysForSure devices and start going towards its own competing Zune products. In the process, analysts believe that the company won’t hurt Apple, but it will hurt its bank account – sizable, but depleting by literally billions with every release from the Zune’s developer, the Xbox team – and you,” Horwitz writes.

Horwitz writes, “Despite all the apparent acrimony between Apple and its numerous rivals, iPod owners still know and respect your brands, and would love to see you competing with the “iPod economy’s” current players in all sorts of categories – iPod-targeted speakers, headphones, car accessories, wireless devices, sports gear, and more. Consider Bose. It opted to join the iPod bandwagon rather than compete with it, and single-handedly released the iPod’s top-selling speaker. We’re pretty sure that a Sony-branded iPod speaker dock would light the world on fire faster than a Sony-branded Walkman speaker dock, and the same goes for once-notable speaker and web camera maker Creative, which could be leveraging its technologies to tens of millions of iPod owners instead of the handfuls of Zen owners. And imagine an iRiver-developed line- and mic-audio recording accessory for 5G iPods. The possibilities are endless.”

Horowitz asks, “Would you buy a Creative, iRiver, or Sony-branded accessory for the iPod?”

Full article and the opportunity to answer Horowitz on iLounge here.

Related articles:
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft partners zune to be the biggest losers – July 25, 2006
In wake of Zune, Microsoft ‘partners’ consider abandoning PlaysForSure – July 25, 2006


  1. Everybody: stop making competing products, because you know, competition is a bad thing. Oh wait…

    I think Apple needs competing players to keep them innovating and prevent any monopoly worries.

  2. Prediction: Zune advertising will be free advertising for the iPod. As Zune proves itself to be a turkey, it will remind potential customers of the one brand that gets it right — the Apple iPod.

  3. i was just thinking about that yesterday. How funny it would be just when Microsoft was closing their ecosystem to be more competitive with Apple, for Apple to open up their ecosystem to completely shut down Microsoft. That would be great.

    then, i got slapped by Steve Jobs and woke up. He will never open up Fairplay.

  4. Sony = over priced, moderate quality, Microsoft-of-the-home-entertainment-world

    Creative = Sounds blaster was cool – should stick to high end audio cards for workstations

    iRiver = what? who? where? don’t care

    I like Griffin, Monster, and Bose for my Apple accessories (though the iPod Hi-Fi is BETTER – cleaner, richer, louder – sound than the Bose)

  5. I’m waiting for BMW & Toyota to come out with Zune integration, like they have with iPod integration.


    GM will be the first with Zune integration, only because they are in such dire financial problems that they will be the cheapest for Microsoft to pay off. That, and they still make a seriously large number of vehicles. Just not cool ones. So it’s probably no loss to Apple.

  6. Fat chance….Steve Jobs likes harmony in the work place. Almost every one in Apple BELIEVES in the brand like they GET IT. Read an article once that said that if you did not GET IT you were pretty much not working for them. Those Ex-MS people may be good at what they do….but I doubt they are as savvy as the people that work for Apple.

  7. Funny: “then, i got slapped by Steve Jobs and woke up. He will never open up Fairplay.”

    M$, with Zune in hand, shouts “Check!!”
    Apple smiles back from across the chess board and calmly replies “check mate”. Games over. Loosers go home.

    Sure SJ would open up Fairplay. Right now MS is using Zune to hollar “check”, but that’s exactly what SJ wants. Apple only needs the iPod, as it currently stand, for a bit longer. The mac is catching on and growing fast. OSX is about to pound on Vista (if it arrives) with great success, and most of all, Apple is about to grab the entire “media hub” world of future home computers.

    Give it another year or so for all these fronts to advance, THEN Apple could easily open up Fairplay and not suffer in the slightest. All this would do is make Fairplay the run-away industry standard (that’s a REALLY good thing).

    By then the mac will be a undeniable force to them (it already is to us), osX will have replaced Vista for a huge chunk of the PC market, the iPhone will be “real” and have partnered with the iPod to futher Apple’s dominance, and MS will have simply… lost.

    Oh, I love chess.

  8. …and single-handedly released the iPod’s top-selling speaker.
    Now that there’s a fine sentence right there. Idon’care whooyuare.

    Raise your hand if you recall any press releases touting a combined corp. effort to build a speaker. LOL

  9. Good thoughts, but is too glossy (10,000 ft approach) and assumes far too much:

    1. M$ is surely adding nice incentives to 3rd parties who develop accessories for the Zune, or at worst, is not charging companies to do so. Apple charges it’s parnters for the right to sell authorized iPod accessories. Don’t count on Apple’s competition making anything, any time soon, for iPod.

    2. Branding: Creative, iRiver, Samsung, Sony – the last thing these companies want to do is watch their design/creative brands go up in smoke, turning into JBL or Memorex…

    3. This mentality gives way to a large assumption – once the Zune arrives, PlayForSure partners are dead in the water. If the Zune comes in at the rumored $399 price tag for a 30 GB device, don’t count on it selling well. In fact, while M$ advertising will push people into stores to check it out, it may result in partnership MP3 sales climbing when people see the price vs. performance ratio and other alternatives…

    If M$ PlayForSure/WMA partners want to survive, months ago they should have started working together, spearheaded by Sony, Samsung and Creative, to develop their own platform the record labels would more than gladly approve of. One SW/Store like iTunes for all these companies. No license fees. One marketing budget provided by all, pushing the solution, not their own individual products – that demand happens downstream.

    But each of these companies are to ingrown and stuck on leaning on M$ for direction and survival to think out of the box. Now it appears that leaning on that M$ box is going to result in an implosion…

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