Ousted Apple vet Tim Bucher heading up Dell’s quixotic music ‘strategy’

“On Nov. 10, 2004, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a strained conversation with Tim Bucher, one of the company’s engineering executives. According to a lawsuit later filed by Bucher, Jobs said: ‘People think you are sometimes manic-depressive…. I think I’m going to have to ask you to leave the company.’ Bucher was stunned: He’d been promoted only a few months earlier. Bucher left Apple but soon sued for wrongful termination. He says the charges of mental illness are ‘completely false.’ Apple settled the suit in 2005 and declined to comment for this story,” Peter Burrows reports for BusinessWeek.

“Now Bucher is again squaring off against his former company. He’s spearheading an ambitious plan at Dell to break Apple’s dominant hold on the digital entertainment market. He won’t challenge Apple head on, with iPod knockoffs or a Dell version of the iTunes music store. Instead, Bucher’s 120-person team is trying to create a potent alliance among Apple’s many rivals, from cell-phone makers and record labels to online music sites,” Burrows reports.

“The idea, which Dell plans to unveil as early as September, is to create a broad standard, more open than Apple’s, that will give people greater choice in how they buy and consume music, movies, and podcasts,” Burrows reports.

“Central to Dell’s plan is software acquired a year ago when it bought Zing, the company Bucher founded after leaving Apple. The software handles behind-the-scenes translations so that content can be ‘zinged’ between computers and other compatible devices. Dell hopes to announce the Zing software as a feature on small, cheap laptops expected in September and to have the software installed on all of its consumer PCs by the end of the year. Two portable media players are scheduled for early next year, according to three sources. Bucher confirms that new devices are coming, but he won’t discuss details,” Burrows reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Zing. Squirt. Whatever.

“‘I guarantee it’s not about revenge,’ Bucher says,” Burrows reports.

More details in the full article here.

“I guarantee it’s not about revenge,” meaning it’s all about revenge. Hopefully, Mikey Dell gives it the thumbs up. If so, stock up on the lithium, folks, because this is going to be way too much fun!

47 Comments

  1. “I guarantee this is not about revenge”.

    When shit like this happens to someone like Bucher, you better believe it is. I’m sure he is sitting in meetings at Dell telling his new employer how he wants to destroy Apple and teach Jobs a lesson.

    I wish him luck. Many have tried. All have failed. And this will be a bonafide failure.

  2. It would be very easy to break the Apple strangle hold.

    You need only a few ingredients:

    1. Good Design.

    Hire real designers. Talented designers. Don’t put crap out there. You know if it’s on par or better than the comparable Apple iDevice just looking at it, holding it, and using it. Keep al the fricking iPods sitting on the desk in front of you to keep you on track.

    2. OPEN STANDARDS.

    Make it play everything including H.264, MP4, MOV, DIVX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, DVCPRO50 and DVCPROHD. Don’t put a stupid Hollywood blessed device out there that only plays WMV. Open! Open! Open! NO CONTROLS. Make it your concern to sell a device (as someone put it yesterday) not push a standard.

    3. Make it compatible with every music service you can or start your own DRM FREE, repeat DRM FREE music service. Do a deal with Amazon that gets you discounts on content for initially purchasing the device.

    4. Work a deal with some studio to land some important exclusive property for the device. I.e. Star Wars Clone Wars or something. Have it ship with an episode or 2 on it.

    5. Make it Mac compatible. Building it to just work on Windows PCs will automatically make the loudest and most vocally aggressive segment of the market bad mouth it while it’s just in nascent conceptual stages let alone when it actually ships.

    6. Make it a storage device that pops up automatically on computers like the iPod on Macs without the need for special software like the iPhone.

    7. Big Screen, Beautiful Picture. Watching video on the iPhone or the iPod touch is a pleasure.

    8. Build in a 3.5 mp digital camera with video capability that uploads automatically to youtube.

    9. Product place this baby. When Jason Bourne opens a safety deposit box in Prague, right next to his .9mm, stack of cash, SpecialOps Watch, and cell phone, he should find this device with a recorded message for him.

    10. Constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY talk about how you admire the iPod, not how you’re building an iPod Killer. When the media uses that phrase denounce it. Say you “Don’t want to kill the iPod, you want to compete effectively in a space that was defined by the iPod.” It will make you sound intelligent, mature, and like you actually know what you’re doing cause you ain’t gonna kill the iPod.

    11. Make it cheaper than the iPod, but not too cheap.

    12. Buy a shit load of Advertising on MDN.

  3. “zing”ing sounds like zero conf or bonjour. I mean, if it isn’t, then creating another standard to get media from one location to another between devices is an uphill battle. Why not use an open-standard?

  4. There are only 10 reasons to be in business. The first is to make a profit. The other nine don’t count.

    Bucher has the ability to make a product with potential to make a profit. THAT is what attracted DELL. It is what will attract others.

    If it doesn’t attract others, then the consensus is that it won’t make a profit.

  5. Oh and one other thing…

    13. Sadly, people hate the Dell logo. Create a new logo for Dell Media Devices or something that doesn’t say “DELL.” Putting “DELL” all over it is the kiss of death. Get some high falutin artist to design the dmd logo.

    Ok. Now you can pay me the same thing you’re paying Enderle.

  6. @John C. Randolph

    It is very easy, they just do stupid things.

    #1. The woefully underestimate the consumer. I mean underestimate big time. ALA Creative. They just don’t get it.

    #2. Seriously disregard the Macintosh Market. They think that just because Apple makes the iPod we won’t look at another device if it’s better.

    They believe they can sell any piece of crap to the PC market.

    So they screw up.

    Breaking Apple’s stranglehold is child’s play for an intelligent organization and I doubt very seriously that’s DELL.

  7. The trouble is that a consensus often has no bearing on reality.

    Consensus said Apple will fail. Consensus said the Mac will fail. Consensus said the iMac will fail. Consensus said the iPod will fail. Consensus said the iPhone will fail.

    Reality, not consensus, is what you must be aware of to create a business that works… let alone one that is profitable.

    Those who ignore reality do so at their own peril.

    And the reality here is that the music industry is not likely to get on board for this.

  8. Payola on the digital front. Thats what they will try to do. Pay off all those labels and hollywood. MS has guaranteed revenue stream, so they can afford to keep losing for years on end to fund that strategy.

  9. Hell. I even have the design and the first commercial.

    You design it as a long rectangle similar to the size of the iPod Touch only a bit larger.

    You show it standing up with low rumbling sound in the background.

    You have a bunch of monkeys with white earbuds come up to it and touch it and the rumbling becomes Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001), and the rest is history!

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