Analyst: Microsoft’s Zune an ‘underwhelming’ repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat; no threat to Apple iPod

Microsoft’s Zune portable music player appears “underwhelming” and could end up being “another classic case of overpromising and underdelivering” by the world’s biggest software company, said an analyst for American Technology Research on Wednesday.

“Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod has driven the company’s success of late, and competitors ranging from Dell to Creative Technology Ltd. to Samsung Electronics have launched rival products that, so far, have failed to even come close to touching that of the iPod,” The Associated Press reports.

“Apple’s iPod is poised to be the ‘Walkman of the portable media space,’ wrote Shaw Wu in a note to investors. ‘Walkman maintained its dominance over a 15 to 20-year period despite countless competitors trying to create a ‘Walkman killer,” the analyst wrote. Microsoft’s ‘iPod killer,’ however, appears to have more bark than bite,” AP reports.

“The company ‘had hinted of an all-new design from the ground up, but from our analysis, it appears that the Zune is essentially a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat that has seen limited success,’ Wu wrote,” AP reports.

AP reports, “Wu said he is unimpressed by Zune’s fake clickwheel, which ‘does not scroll nor is touch-pressure sensitive, making navigation difficult, particularly for users with large music, video and photo libraries.’ Like most other vendors, Microsoft has created an iPod-look for its rival player, but chosen not to add the scrolling clickwheel. ‘We believe this key ‘look-and-feel’ feature may be difficult to replicate without infringing on Apple’s extensive patent portfolio,’ notes Wu.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arthur” for the heads up.]
Well, there’s a nice review. Is that blood we smell already? Wonder if Zune’s “fake clickwheel” is patent-pending? Microsoft has been “overpromising, underdelivering, underwhelming, and faking” for its entire corporate lifetime. It’s always nice when others notice.

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38 Comments

  1. ABC, the “closer to the vest” was a direct link to Steve Jobs’ comment at WWDC with respect to certain features of Leopard.

    It really is hard to come up with something “better” than the iPod’s current implementation. The click-wheel is absolute genius at work. It just feels “right”.

    Now iPods are starting to talk. Next, we’ll be able to talk to them, or even better, just “think” of a song and it starts playing.

  2. OK, maybe this is one for the tinfoil hat brigade, but what if the Zune we’ve been seeing is not the final product, but a developmental chassis to prove out the core functionality while the case is still being kept under wraps. MS had to get something out to the FCC for compliance testing, so they went the easy way instead of waiting for the whole package to be complete.

    (And that’s another thing – with the FCC clearance required for any raidating device, wouldn’t something have already popped out about an Apple device with WiFi or Bluetooth?)

    OK, so its a Gigabeat’s guts with WiFi and Bluetooth grafted on (which adds to the expense and cuts battery life, so I say no thanks)…but is it confirmed that that is the final enclosure….or just the proof-of-principle chassis?

  3. I bet Apple will go with an add on device for wireless / bluetooth functionality. Works well for the Nike gizmo.

    Best thing about this is that the battery power isn’t an issue cos the spec won’t be with the add-on device.

    The bad thing is that it would work with old pods.

  4. Um, B-Sabre – no matter what the enclosure looks like, it will still not be an iPod. It could be titanium plated for all that would be worth. AND STILL NOT BE AN iPOD. So yes – it’s a tinfoil hat brigade comment. Utterly inconsequential.

  5. Ahem…

    …having just apprised the UK’s Tesco supermart chain of the uselessness of giving away downloads that are not iPod (or iTunes or Apple) compatible, you do wonder what planet these iPod wannabees live on.

    So far as I’m aware, the iPod achieved ‘Walkman of Today’ status some while ago.

  6. B-Sabre

    Interesting speculation, but since how components are put together on a chassis affects how a device radiates, I doubt if the FCC is in the business of certifying compliance in a device that will have a significantly different layout when it reaches the consumer.

    But, to be fair, this observation is pure speculation on my part as well.

    I guess we’ll all soon see.

  7. FTA:

    AP reports, “Wu said he is unimpressed by Zune’s fake clickwheel, which ‘does not scroll nor is touch-pressure sensitive, making navigation difficult, particularly for users with large music, video and photo libraries.’ Like most other vendors, Microsoft has created an iPod-look for its rival player, but chosen not to add the scrolling clickwheel. ‘We believe this key ‘look-and-feel’ feature may be difficult to replicate without infringing on Apple’s extensive patent portfolio,’ notes Wu.”

    This paragraph from the article shows the “cargo cult” character of the design approach. It only has the superficial look of the iPod, but not the exquisite interface and use experience of the latter.

    Let’s call this the fauxPod experience.

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