Enderle: Microsoft Zune ‘a design mistake’

“The launch of Zune pitches Microsoft into direct competition with Apple but few think that, initially, it will have the clout to upset the dominance of iTunes and the iPod,” Mark Ward reports for BBC News.

“At launch Microsoft will only be offering one Zune player – a 30GB model with a 7.6cm colour screen and FM radio that comes in black, white or brown. Also at launch the Zune service will only offer music and associated art. Movies and TV shows will come later,” Ward reports. “‘They put a big screen designed for movies, but there are no movies for it,’ said analyst Rob Enderle. ‘That is a design mistake.'”

“Built in to every Zune device is a wireless music sharing system. The short range data swapping system lets Zune owners beam tracks, playlists and images to other Zune players nearby,” Ward reports. “Tracks shared in this way can be listened to three times or kept for three days before they disappear. This ability to share is at the heart of Microsoft’s ambitions for the player and the way it hopes to differentiate itself from what it dubs the ‘closed’ world of Apple’s iTunes.”

Full article here.
Microsoft has made their usual mistake. They looked around for something to differentiate themselves from Apple and hit upon “sharing.” That doesn’t mean it’s a desired feature by consumers. Ask yourself how many times you wished you could beam a song to a friend. Probably a few times, right? An odd time here or there for most, right? It gets worse. Now ask yourself how many times you wished you could beam a song to a friend that they could only listen to three times or keep for three days before it disappeared from their iPod. Never, right? Typical Microsoft: they do it because its possible – technology for technology’s sake – not because it’s a particularly useful feature and then they don’t do it very well at all. How do real humans share? It’s called “iPod jacking” and it’s decidedly less techno, but done far more often: you unplug your headphones from your iPod and plug into your friend’s iPod to hear the song. Done. Sharing accomplished. Now get off my iPod!

For this reason, and many others, Microsoft Zune will fail because Microsoft, as is their modus operandi, doesn’t know and/or care what the customer wants or what features would be good for the use.

Related articles:
BBC online poll asks ‘Will Microsoft’s Zune be a success?’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft hypocrisy exposed with Zune: What ever happened to ‘choice?’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune with fake scroll wheel ‘hardly an Apple iPod killer’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune won’t spoil Apple’s biggest iPod Christmas ever – September 14, 2006
Microsoft unveils Zune 30GB player, Zune Marketplace; declines to disclose prices – September 14, 2006
Microsoft sees room in music player market for ‘Zune’ to challenge Apple’s dominant iPod – September 06, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s Zune an ‘underwhelming’ repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat; no threat to Apple iPod – August 30, 2006
Microsoft confirms brick-like Zune to be made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft Zune is chunky brick made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions, several years on Zune trying to catch Apple iPod+iTunes – July 27, 2006
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006

55 Comments

  1. How much battery power does beaming songs eat?

    THAT’s why Steve Jobs talked about battery life — and new, longer, battery life in his last key note speech.

    Zune will die because it’s large screen and wifi will mean it can work for an hour or so in between charges.

  2. Satan’s condo just got covered in ice. I actually agree with Enderle on something. He must be high on codeine. I can’t fathom why he just made sense out of the blue.

    Will the Zune have a brown screen of death? Nice change.

    MDN MW: true

  3. If mp3-players are soon to be extinct — replaced by mobile phones — and considering, that Microsoft is admitting, that it will a long time and a lot of money to catch up to Apple. Does that mean that Microsoft are going into this, planning to do a mobile to compete with the iPhone, that Apple is obviously in the process of developing?

  4. one of the biggest mistake MS and others keep making is that they can jump in and start taking market share away from Apple.

    They fail over and over again to realize that Apple has a good 3-4 years of engineering and development ahead of them. You cannot design a system with all the features that Apple is offering overnight. it takes time to build up the offering that much offering.

    and Apple has not been a sitting duck either. So catching up to Apple will be a daunting task if not impossible. Only a large amount of investment can shrink the gap. and indeed MS does have the resources. however, they do not have the expertise as proven by the Vista/Longhorn debacle.

    MS is indeed laying the groundworks for offering video and movies. but offering a big brick like the Zune from the get-go without offering the services to make it attractive is not only a big fashion faux-pas but a strategic mistake.

    People will not buy the Zune because it is butt-fcukn’ UGLY. Period. Not because of all the other functions that it has or doesn’t have compared to the iPod.

  5. I disagree with MDN. MDN should give credit where credit is due, even to MS – it will make your criticisms more valuable.

    We ‘share’ our phone details via infra-red, we share music and photos via bonjour, we share files on our Macs, even email is a form of sharing. If Apple had brought out this idea and Zune shared only via ‘iPod jacking’ we would laugh at it.

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