MP3.com 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 (MP3.com founder) blogs for MichaelRobertson.com. “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, Buy.com, 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 MP3.com, 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 SIPphone.com, 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.]

Related articles:
Microsoft fails to secure key Zune domains – October 04, 2006
Microsoft rigs Zune with tricky pricing and proprietary money schemes – October 03, 2006
Why Microsoft’s Zune won’t kill Apple’s iPod – October 03, 2006
10 Apple iPod vs. Microsoft Zune myths – October 02, 2006
Analyst: Zune could lead to ‘civil war’ between Microsoft and Windows Media partners – September 29, 2006
Thurrott on Microsoft’s Zune: ‘The makings of a disaster, what the heck are these people thinking?’ – September 29, 2006
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
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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
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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

49 Comments

  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.

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