founder: ‘Zune will be an expensive failure for Microsoft because consumers aren’t stupid’

“I’ve been looking for a good verb to describe losing all of your music to DRM because it’s increasingly common and I think I have one: zune,” Michael Robertson ( founder) blogs for “Sample usage: He had an extensive classic rock collection that got zuned.”

Robertson writes, “Now if you’re thinking that zune sounds familiar it’s because the press has been abuzz about an upcoming MP3 player from Microsoft called Zune. At first glance the features seem compelling but my prediction is it will be the biggest flop of 2007 with less than 50,000 units sold worldwide.”

“The wow feature of the [Zune] is [supposed to be] wifi – a wireless way to connect to the Internet. Great – I can get music directly to the device without a PC! Wrong. In a baffling move Microsoft has crippled the wifi so it cannot load music from the Internet. You’ll need to attach it to your PC and run their software just like every other MP3 player. The wireless connection is only used to connect to another Zune device to move songs which will then vaporize after 3 days or 3 plays even if you own the music and both devices. Astonishingly the one feature which could fundamentally improve upon the iPod is worthless,” Robertson writes.

“In spite of the larger display and capacity the Zune is inferior… because it zunes your entire purchased music library. Microsoft made a corporate decision to abandon their previous technology called ‘Plays for Sure’ and turn it into ‘Screwed for Sure.’ Anyone who purchased music from Rhapsody, Napster,, Wal-mart, BuyMusic, etc. will discover that music is unplayable,” Robertson writes.

Robertson writes, “The danger with DRM is that it gives corporations the power to change the rules of the game anytime they think it will benefit their bank account, even if that means zuning your music library. There’s no better illustration of this than when the world’s largest technology company curtails support of their OWN technology abandoning their hardware partners, music stores and most importantly customers they convinced to use Plays for Sure. Microsoft will surely claim that they’ll continue to support Plays for Sure, but their actions speak louder than their words – it won’t even play on their own music players! Plays for Sure is dead for sure and it’s going to its grave with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of music fans’ digital music crammed into the coffin.”

Robertson writes, “Microsoft will likely spend nearly $100 million in marketing the Zune. The press will give them tens of millions of dollars in free marketing. In spite of this publicity the Zune will be an expensive failure for Microsoft because consumers aren’t stupid. As the saying goes: Zune me once, shame on you. Zune me twice, shame on me.”

Full article here.

[Michael Roberton’s high-profile startups include, where he established the largest collection of digital music in the world, amassing more than 1 million downloadable MP3 files. Robertson also spearheaded change in corporate business music services and put the power of CD creation in artists’ hands by offering a host of support technologies and services. Vivendi Universal purchased the profitable company in 2001 for $372 million in stock and cash.

Michael’s next project was to start Linspire, Inc., a company that produces an affordable, license-free desktop Linux operating system. In 2003, Robertson founded, a company that harnesses the power of the Internet to allow customers to make free long distance phone calls. In 2005, Michael reentered the MP3 business with his latest venture MP3tunes, an online music store and artist music service that offers digital music without digital rights management.]

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Analyst: Zune could lead to ‘civil war’ between Microsoft and Windows Media partners – September 29, 2006
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Computerworld review: ‘Apple’s new iPods are better than ever’ – September 27, 2006
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PC Magazine review: iTunes 7 ‘Apple’s best effort yet’ (4 stars out of 5) – September 15, 2006
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  1. I think Microsoftie has contributed to the world in great ways! This has been another huge expensive addition to the languages of the human race to add another word for “failure” “waste” “junk” “catastrophe” “dud” and numerous others that the word ‘Zune’ will replace! We can now use them in the ways that Microsquish has given us alternatives for ‘Windows’ ‘Security’ and other M$ ‘firsts’ have given us alternative definitions for.

    Thanks Microwhatever!

  2. I beg to differ, there area a LOT of stupid consumers out there that take whatever is shoved thier way… this alone will let the zune have some success, they have the whole windows userbase to start off with

  3. I agree with erk. As much as I’d like to believe all of what I’ve read about the Zune’s DOA probability, a part of me fears that yes, customers ARE stupid, and will buy anything they’re told. Imagine if Microsoft or some retailer gets the idea of bundling the Zune with some low-end entry level PC and/or Vista (if it ever ships). That might prevent the uninitiated from ever considering an iPod since they’ll have the Zune, and put the Zune in more homes that it might otherwise.

    While I don’t think it’s likely, I just hope we’re not going to be eating crow about all this next year.

  4. You only have to look at comments on vaious forums to see there are some really really stupd people out there trying to make a case for the crappo Zune…

    Guess they’re feeling a little..overwhelmed by all the “positive” comment being generated..

  5. Zuned. Rhymes nicely with p00ned.

    He is right on the first part, that it’ll most likely fail, though it’s unlikely that it’ll be because of the lack of stupidity in the existing Microsoft userbase. It’s there in abundance.

  6. In general, I agree with Roberson, despite his dig at Apple in the first paragraph of his article. Adding DRM (which I despise, BTW) to iTunes purchases is not the equivalent of making them a rental.

    However, IMHO, he’s pretty much spot on with his analysis of the Zune, except I think MS will probably sell several hundred thousand if not millions, although not right away.

    A funny thing is, after reading his article, a car analogy occured to me.

    Will the Zune be the Edsel of the mp3 player market?

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