Microsoft's Zune the IPod Killer - Will it or will it not?
Talk about the killing of IPod to an IPod lover and chances of blood being spilt are high. I am an IPod lover myself but no biases here. Innovation needs a chance and even if innovation is from a company that hasn't always believed in it, it still needs a chance. Is Zune the new wonder from Microsoft threatening IPod? Is Zune the IPod killer? Has Microsoft finally found a new "soul"? Lots more questions and lots to explore but first a little background.
The Connected Entertainment Vision
September 14th 2006: Microsoft had termed the day as "big milestone for its Connected Entertainment vision" and had released details of its new Zune brand.
Designed around the principles of sharing, discovery and community, Microsoft had said Zune will create new ways for consumers to connect and share entertainment experiences. The basic premise of Zune experience was a connected entertainment vision one that would allow you to connect to your library, connect to friends, to community and to other devices.
The Zune Release
Fast-forward to November 14th 2006 Microsoft launches the Zune media player and music service with lot of noise or music in this case. A release from Microsoft is always grand and so was the Zune release. A number of cutting-edge artists to stage free concerts in public parks and plazas in urban centres across the country plus lots more activities to promote the Zune player.
Bytes and more bytes followed. The critiques had their share of expression, the technology writers theirs and Mr Gates had his share of bytes about the Zune vision. All very well said. Figures, some speak better than words and though half a month isn't long enough to gauge the performance of a product but it does give some feelers about what's tomorrow is going to be like.
The Zune Report Card so far
Let's see how Zune is performing and then we will see whether IPod really needs to be feeling threatened.
The latest reports as early as this morning show that Zune is performing and the sales are on target. Initial sales "indicate we are on track to meet our internal business projections," Zune Director Jason Reindorp said.
No sales or projections or figures from Microsoft are available.
The Media Says
According to Latimes, a survey by Piper Jaffray & Cos analyst Eugene Munster shows that few retailers are recommending the device.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday "Microsoft Corp's answer to Apple Computer Inc's iPod is not eliciting much consumer interest"
I did a search for Zune on Google News. Amongst the Top Headlines were
"Zune fails to dent iPod sales as US goes shopping"
"Zune Sales Lagging Behind iPod, Others"
"Zune Heading For A Nasty Landing"
"Microsoft Zune bombs at retail"
At Amazon Zune was ranked amongst one of the top selling MP3 models after its release on 14th November 2006. But that didn't last long. From a high of 7 it has dropped to 18. An Amazon.com selling list for electronics on Monday featured seven digital media players, including six iPod models, but did not include Microsoft's Zune device. Noteworthy is this is the start of the festive season and one the biggest shopping times of the year.
The Reviews of Zune
I am IPod lover so maybe I am biased. So let's see the reviews that matter.
Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg has called the Zune's hardware "rushed and incomplete."
Digital Trends published a detailed review of the Microsoft Zune and it ain't pretty. Verdict: "The Microsoft Zune is one of those products that you will want to avoid at all costs; at least this first generation."
BetaNews has done a wonderful compilation of the Reviews where the overall verdict is "It's OK, But No iPod". I would recommend you to view the following link betanews.com.
The Last Word
The final verdict is in favour of Apple's IPod. It is far too superior to feel threatened by the likes of Zune. I don't feel the need to re-emphasise the character of innovation from Apple's mindshop.
Having said that looking at the bigger picture there is something terrific happening at Microsoft and BusinessWorld put it rather well calling it "The soul of a new Microsoft" and how the new leaders are "looking beyond Windows".
Zune is just a small battle and there is a much bigger plan and Microsoft seems to be getting ready for that. Microsoft surely deserves kudos for that. I believe irrespective of Zune's performance Microsoft's strategy is on place.