The Chicago Tribune’s Coates: ‘Zune owns the catbird seat thanks to’

“Friends and neighbors, I’m here to tell you that it is mighty early in the game to count Microsoft [Zune] out [against Apple’s iPod+iTunes]. But it’s going to be an uphill slog of a fight,” James Coates writes for The Chicago Tribune. “While most observers focused on the lopsided music end of the race, the real action may be at the movies. Jobs announced a deal to let iPod owners download DVDs from Walt Disney Co., where Jobs sits on the board of directors.”

Coates writes, “Zune owns the catbird seat thanks to, where already more than 30 movie studios and television networks are offering a fat menu of Windows-only DVD downloads.”

“Studios available for Zune include 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Lions Gate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.,” Coates writes. “Also waiting for download to hard drives for play on the soon-to-be-seen Zune are programs from this collection of television networks: A&E, Adult Swim, Animal Planet, BBC, The Biography Channel, Cartoon Network, CBS, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Kids, E! Entertainment Television, Fine Living TV Network, FOX, Fuel TV, FX, HGTV, The History Channel, KBS (Korean Broadcast System), Logo, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, The N, PBS, Speed, Spike, Travel Channel, TV Land and VH1.”

“The Amazon films can be downloaded as near-DVD-quality files for playing on computer monitors and as much smaller files that can play on Windows-compliant mobile movie players, but not iPods,” Coates writes.

Full article here.
Great theory, Mr. Coates. One not-so-minor problem: Microsoft’s Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or “rented” from Amazon, Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, or any other “PlaysForSure” online media service. In footnote 4 of its Zune fact sheet (.doc file, 56 KB), Microsoft clearly states that “Zune software can import audio files in unprotected WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, H.264” – not protected WMA and WMV (like Amazon’s Unbox content). iTunes Store content is also not supported, of course.

Zune is a closed system that works on with Windows PCs and the music-only “Zune Marketplace,” which has not announced plans for video content of any kind.

Now, what was that about counting out Zune and owning catbird seats, again?

Related articles:
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What’s in a name? ‘Zune’ a French-Canadian euphemism for penis or vagina – September 15, 2006
Crave at CNET: ‘Microsoft Zune, all the excitement that brown can bring’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune underwhelms – September 15, 2006
Enderle: Microsoft Zune ‘a design mistake’ – 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
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


  1. “Microsoft’s Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or “rented” from Amazon, Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, or any other “PlaysForSure” online media service.”

    And who approved this grossly extraordinarily functional limitation? The more I read about Zune the more impressed I am with what Zune can’t do, more than what Zune can do.

  2. After reading his column in the Trib this morning, I wondered how long it would take to show up on MDN.

    Besides totally missing the boat on content that will play on the Zune, Coates falls into the “this MS product has n+1 more features than a similar Apple product” trap. He talks about how the iTV box doesn’t have a DVR, therefore it isn’t as good as the 5th generation Windows Media Center product. Apparently he doesn’t understand the “do one thing and do it well” design philosophy.

  3. Based upon recent failures for users to download films from Amazon and the fact that the Zune Marketplace is more promise than reality, I’d say that James Coates’ giddy confidence is based more on wishful thinking than empirical evidence.

  4. It simple amazes me how “journalists”, from byline star names to truly no name “journalists” simply do not get basic facts of any type correct in columns they write. Why? Because they’re truly are untalented people. Who do not have to get stories accurate. And editors simply do nothing to correct stories before publication.

    I can only imagine journalism schools and how they teach the professon of journalism. It must be accuracy is not important, get the story out. You can always run a correction if forced to.

    I read so many stories or columns written that literally do not even do basic who, what and where facts.

    This guy Coates too. Simple facts available on the site of the very subject of his column and, he’s not even done this basic research.

    From the NY Times on down, it truly is amateur hour. Story and column after one another filled with nonsense and falsehoods. And they’re never held to account. Except the Jason Blairs who outright make up stories. But even he was allowed to continuefor so long when the editors were told of his lies.

    If anyone believes anything reported to them outright without doing your own fact checking, I feel sorry for them.

  5. We don’t even know how much this as yet unreleased “vaporoduct” going to cost – not that I care – it’s just that’s going to be one more problem to have to explain, when they announce it – it can’t be too much more than the current 30Gb iPod…

  6. Who cares if the MicroSnot pro media does not tell you the full story. Let the suckers buy this turd and find out that it only works with the Zune service. It will serve them right for not doing the proper research and listening to schmucks like this.

  7. Online movie sales is going to fail.

    First off, the majority of people who own a iPod only have downloaded less than 200 songs from iTMS since it’s been out!

    There has been some serious addiction to LOST on iTMS at first, but the realization finally sets in that TV shows go through dead periods and then people realize they have hard drives filled with used TV shows.

    People arre not going to pay mega-bucks for movies to download for hours on end and then have to worry about losing the files, backing up and all that.

    I dumped all my TV shows and going back to TV, I like the ability to watch something I like on my own time, but everything is coming out on DVD now and I can rent the entire series instead.

    If I want to keep it, all I got to do is Handbrake the dvd and it’s mine.

    Netflix and cable box ordering is so much easier and cheaper.

    Movies sales online is going to fail eventually, definatly when HD movies come out.

    Music will still be good as it has a repeat purpose, the files are small.

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