Thursday, October 04, 2007

Zune Revamp

Microsoft is ramping up its ‘iTunes and Apple competitor’ Zune offer. The question are whether it is merely following in the shadows and whether it has something new and special to offer?

They have unveiled two new Zunes with redesigned ‘Zune Pad’ controllers and styling.They are offering a $250 enhanced version of the old model, with a 80GB hard drive and a smaller, lighter flash memory-based model with 4-GB for $150 or 8-GB for $200. The Zune's wireless networking can sync a Zune wirelessly to a PC, and if you send a song to another Zune owner, the song will not now automatically vanish from the other Zune after three days. The recipient can also send this song on to still other Zune owners,but can still only play it three times.

The Zune Marketplace will now sell DRM-free MP3 files, stock music videos, but will still not have TV shows or movies and a new online-community site called Zune Social will also enable file sharing.

Microsoft claim to have shipped 1.2 million units last year but these have little visibility and are far outnumbered by Apple’s growing iWorld. They even had to roll out Bill to support these announcements.

Instead of fighting the market on an open and multi entertainment platform they have continued their proprietary route, even to the point of being incompatible with their own ‘PlaysForSure’ format for purchased audio and video downloads, and have retained their own ‘Microsoft Points’ payment system.

So what’s special? Not a lot unless you can find another Zune user within sight to share files with and although a great feature not one to build a product around. Zune social doesn’t present that ‘must join’ factor and there are too many competitors who have better offers or stronger communities. Sorry the Zune lacks a USP and we can’t see being high on the Christmas list to Santa this year.