Thurrott on Microsoft’s Zune: ‘The makings of a disaster, what the heck are these people thinking?’

“Reportedly surprised by Apple’s recent iPod price cuts, Microsoft this week announced that its upcoming Zune MP3 player will be priced at $249.99, the same price as the iPod model it most closely resembles. Microsoft also said it now plans to ship Zune in the US on November 14,” Paul Thurrott writes for WinInfo.

Thurrott writes, “Microsoft will be bolstering the device with a new online service called Zune Marketplace, where Zune users can browse and purchase songs for about 99 cents each. Unlike Apple’s iTunes service, however, Zune Marketplace will also offer a $14.99 monthly subscription called Zune Pass that gives subscribers access to all Zune Marketplace content.”

Over on Internet-Nexus, Thurrrott remarks on his own WinInfo piece. Incestuous narcissism notwithstanding, Thurrot’s comment is short and to-the-point, “This has the makings of a disaster. $14.99 a month is too much for a subscription service. The Zune is incompatible with both iTunes and every single WMA-based service on the planet. What the heck are these people thinking?”

Full article here.
Even if Zune was beautiful to look at, offered double the capacity of iPod at half the price, and actually offered some compelling feature that the iPod doesn’t have (and no, ridiculously-limited viral DRM Wi-Fi “sharing” with a Zuneless world and a crappy built-in FM radio don’t cut it), the Zune cannot win.

Steve Jobs holds all of the cards. He can welcome other companies of his own choosing into the iPod+iTunes ecosystem if they’re ever needed. Also-ran device makers would jump at the chance to play iTunes Store content and also-ran online media services would likewise line up for the chance to sell content for iPods – they would have jumped at the chance even before they were hung out to dry by Microsoft (Zune doesn’t support PlaysForSure, only Zune Marketplace).

Even though he almost certainly will not need to go so far, the option is there if he needs it. At any time he wishes, Steve Jobs can relegate Zune to nothingness, regardless of Microsoft’s efforts. This isn’t like the Mac, where we loyal Mac users simply would not let the platform die: there are no Zune users and there is no established Zune ecosystem to keep it alive if Apple decides to snuff it out. The Mac came well before Windows and built an ecosystem and a following that kept it alive despite small market share and through tough times. The Zune is coming late, far after the iPod. Imagine if Apple tried to launch the Mac today, with Windows firmly established: it just wouldn’t work at all, no matter how superior the product. And Zune isn’t superior: it’s bulkier and uglier with a fake click wheel, it costs slightly more than the same capacity 30GB iPod, and Zune’s features just aren’t compelling enough.

The fact that Microsoft is even trying this Zune thing in such a manner only highlights how desperately the company needs new management, focus, and direction. Why not just make a giant pile of money up there in Redmond and have a bonfire instead? You dopes would accomplish the same thing in the end.

There are some random articles floating around that simply don’t get it or don’t want to get it.  Here and here are some articles to which you can apply this same “Take.”

Note to Microsoft: you should not launch faux “Zune fan” websites until after the product is actually released if you want anyone to think they’re really inspired by your product/service.

Related articles:
Analyst: Microsoft Zune’s as good as dead on arrival – September 28, 2006
Microsoft sets 30GB Zune price at $249.99 – September 28, 2006
How Microsoft’s Zune can kill Apple’s iPod – September 21, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune insanity – September 21, 2006
The Microsoft Zune 1.0 dud – September 20, 2006
Microsoft’s underwhelming Zune a ‘viral DRM’ device – September 18, 2006
SanDisk teams with RealNetworks against new common foe: Microsoft Zune – September 18, 2006
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Motley Fool’s Jayson: Microsoft’s ‘just plain ugly’ Zune a meager offering, not an iPod killer – September 15, 2006
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

Computerworld review: ‘Apple’s new iPods are better than ever’ – September 27, 2006
PC Magazine’s 19th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards for MP3 players: Apple iPod line – September 25, 2006
USA Today reviews new Apple iPod nanos, updated iPods, iTunes 7 (each earns 4 stars out of 4) – September 21, 2006
Time Magazine’s Gadget of the Week: Apple iPod 80GB – September 21, 2006
CNET Editor’s Choice: Apple fifth-gen updated iPod – ‘best, most attractive iPod to date’ – September 20, 2006
Disney’s remarkable 1st week iTunes movies sales should have studios clambering aboard Apple train – September 20, 2006
Disney sells 125,000 movie downloads via Apple’s iTunes Store in first week – September 19, 2006
PC Magazine review: iTunes 7 ‘Apple’s best effort yet’ (4 stars out of 5) – September 15, 2006
CNET Editor’s Pick: Apple’s new 2G iPod nano – ‘sure to be top choice among wide range of users’ – September 14, 2006
Apple debuts new iPod in 30GB and 80GB with Hollywood movies, games and new lower price – September 12, 2006
Apple intros new iPod nano with new aluminum design in five colors and 24-hour battery life – September 12, 2006
Apple unveils new iPod shuffle: world’s smallest digital music player – September 12, 2006
Apple debuts iTunes 7 – September 12, 2006


  1. Fake Zune Fac sites?

    You may notice, we may notice, I may notice.

    But the general public are lemmings. They will not notice the Zune fan sites are fake.

    IT geeks with the certificates from MS will not notice and encourage all of the lemmings to visit the fake fan sites.

    gazillions of idiots will ask the corp IT MS geeks what is better, an iPod or Zune, and guess what they will say?

    Apple better take this seriously because the average person on the street is an idiot. Mom and Dad buying xmas presents for little jimmy and jane is an idiot. They have windows at home, better get a windows made zune.

  2. Never mind also-ran device makers, just extend FairPlay to the makers of products where Apple has no offering, such as Sonos or Roku.

    Too worried that you’ll be missing out, give them the license in exchange for a completely new 15% of equity and some cash. iTunes wins, Sonos/Roku/whoever wins by getting more working capital, and the consumer wins by being able to extend the iTS experience into their living room.

    If anyone thinks that’s a bad idea, they need to provide some justification because – as someone who sells this stuff – it’s a major pain in the ass explaining it to customers.

  3. The crazy Zune Store pricing gets me – $100 for 80 Zune points…a song cost 79 zune points ($0.9875) so why is Microsoft trying to complicate things with the freaking Zune store.

    The US Government has a monitary system – we don’t need Microsoft’s!

  4. A couple years from now, long after the Zune has gone down in a plume of black smoke and been forgotten, the Zune will be used by writers and comedy sketch artists to develop n’er do well characters. Yeah that’s Bob. He works in a toll booth, his mother disowned him, and he has a Zune.

  5. ‘The makings of a disaster, what the heck are these people thinking?’

    It won’t be a disaster if the Zune can operate a store, manage and download content directly from a DSL/hard drive dock, bypassing a computer completely, appealing to the other 90% of the population that “doesn’t get” computers.

    Apple better watch out, the Zune’s “wifi” ability and interface is a dead giveaway there are bigger plans for this device.

  6. whenever “The-Rott” has a “strong” feeling about something the market bears an “…equal and opposite reaction.” such is how wrong he usually is. as much as i dislike agreeing with this dope, in this case, i hope in this case he’s right.

  7. I certainly hope that the Zune dies a quick and painful death, and I ADORE this site in general, but the vitrol unleashed here for something NO ONE HAS EVERY EVEN TRIED is a bit much, even for me.

    I’m sure the Zune is a loon- but until we actually have one in our hands, there’s NO WAY anyone can say it has “a crappy built-in FM radio” and be taken seriously. Maybe the radio is good, maybe it’s not- but it’s irrational to judge something until you’ve seen (or, in this case, heard) it for yourself. Yes, it’s PROBABLY crappy- but it’s poor journalism (even poor editorializing) to make a statement like that before trying it.

    Please don’t get me wrong- I’m as convinced as the rest of you that this will be a major disaster for M$ (and I have as much “shadenfreude” as the next guy about this), but we should at least reserve judgement until our prejudices can be actually justified and not just assumed.

    Just an idea…

  8. Just think how cool the wireless sharing will really be–WELL worth the other disadvantages of Zune.

    Just imagine–you’re listening to your Zune, which comes in stylish brown unlike the iPod–and you use a little (or even a lot of) battery power to check constantly for other Zune users who have opted to share their music with nearby listeners. Total strangers, sharing exciting music! That rules!

    So you’ve had the Zune for maybe 2 years, maybe 3, and then you meet the first other person who has a Zune AND is sharing music! It will be like sighting the Loch Ness Monster. Those few seconds before the unknown stranger moves on might be enough to get some music. What a rush!

    And Zune does not cost one penny more than an iPod that cannot do this! Enjoy your games and TV shows, silly Pod People. Where’s the fun in that?

  9. I will wait until I actually see one of the Zune devices to actually pass judgement. However, from what I have seen so far there is no compelling reason for anyone to buy this thing. Sure some people have had some problems with the iPod, and might have chosen to go with a creative or scandisk device, but why would they go Zune now? None of the creative/scandisk libraries will transfer even though they use the windows media format. So, they will have to find a way to get their music on the device or loose all their playlists because the music service they currently use isn’t compatible with this new player. So, the ability to move your music (even from another MS player) is null and void and price wise there isn’t really a compelling reason either. Other players have the FM tuner option (although, in my 3 years of iPod onwership I have never once desired this feature)and other players have the voice recording option too. So, the only thing truly unique about this player is the wi-fi option. Now my only reason to get this thing would be to have the ablilty to share a song for a couple of days with a fellow Zune user (which at this point might be hard to find for a while). Maybe the have some excellent software on the Zune or something that they aren’t telling us yet. At this point I cannot see the benefit of this device other than MS trying to keep some sort of hold on digital media. (Because MS having total control over anything has worked out well for anyone. I won’t even get started on IE and Windows)

  10. “It won’t be a disaster if the Zune can operate a store, manage and download content directly from a DSL/hard drive dock, bypassing a computer completely, appealing to the other 90% of the population that “doesn’t get” computers.”

    So the 90% of peoplel that don’t get computers and Find iTunes hard to use ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    I think that “90%” (figure is in question) might–I say MIGHT–just stick with CDs ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Which by the way can import quite seamlessly to an iPod if they ever get a computer.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.