23 Replies to “Zune: Sharing the Sharing”

  1. Nope. I didn't fly home craddling a baby Zune. They did give us a baseball cap and t-shirt that reads "They Let Us Look at Zune and All We Got Was This Surprisingly Stylish Tee." I heard someone mention 12 hours of battery life, but my stomach was growling, so I may be off the mark. That'd be nice though.

  2. Because it would be a major PITA.
    With the resources Microsoft has, it wouldn't have taken too much to make a mac and linux versions of their software.
    No, they probably wouldn't sell many Zunes to mac or linux users even if they did, but it would show what they say about openess is more than rhetoric (particularly given the history of the company).

  3. Andrew, consider me part of that 1% of Mac fans that want an iPod alternative.
    And, despite the fact that it will more than likely have the flaws of any first-generation product (even the iPod wasn't perfect at first), the specs on the Zune sound wicked cool!

  4. I just read Engadget's interview with Microsoft VP J. Allard who confirms that Zune will play AAC files….
    "We have really pretty strong commitment to being compatible with your existing libraries. We know we're not the first player in this space, and that there's a ton of media out there, and so we put a bunch of codec support in there. You know, iTunes by default rips in AAC, there's a lot of AAC content out there, so we'll play AAC natively. MP3s, obviously…we really are taking a relatively agnostic approach to different formats…For us this is not a format play, we're not trying to tell consumers what format they have to keep their media in."

  5. Note that while the Zune's screen is physically bigger than the iPod's, its resolution is exactly the same. Larger screen + same number of pixels = less clarity (with some extra battery drainage thrown in). I'm sure the screen dimensions will lure some buyers who don't pay attention to such details (and getting buyers is certainly the name of the game here) but it's really no advantage — largely the opposite — in actual use.

  6. Oddly, no one ever thinks about the market implications of the sharing feature. It turns out that the implications are universally negative for Microsoft, or any other new entrants into the MP3 player market.
    There are 2 possibilities: either it is popular, or it is not. Consider the latter (and probably more likely) possibility first. If it is not popular, then Microsoft is selling a player that costs more to manufacture, is bulky, and has poor battery life, all to support a feature that most people do not want. Obviously that will only result in failure in the long run.
    But now consider the first possibility. If it is popular, then Microsoft will do reasonably well in the short run – perhaps in the ultra-optimistic scenario they take 10% of the total market (keeping in mind that they cannot even compete with Nano and Shuffle type players, which make up the majority of the market). In that scenario, Apple will obviously add wireless sharing to the iPod within the next year (in fact, they almost surely already have such a contingency plan). But, since the iPod has a much higher market share than any other competitor, the value of wireless sharing in an iPod will quickly become much higher than the value of wireless sharing in the Zune (or any other player). This is what economists refer to as network externalities. The Zune and other players will then be increasingly marginalized, as there will be no way for them to communicate with the hoards of wireless iPods. Ironically, Microsoft would find the same difficulties in competing in this scenario that Apple and other OS manufacturers find when competing with Windows. The only way that Microsoft could succeed is if Apple delayed the release of a wireless iPod for at least 18-24 months after Zune became popular, but that seems incredibly unlikely, especially since it appears that they are already on the verge of coming out with even more ambitious devices like the iPod phone (compared to that, grafting WiFi onto an iPod is pretty trivial).

  7. It is my understanding that while it will play AAC files (MPEG-4 audio), it will not be able to decode DRM'd AAC files bought from iTunes. I cannot locate my source on this, but it makes sense.
    I was baffled by the brown, but you may be right about its vintage appeal.

  8. 3hive: You don’t have to “constantly hit menu” to move back in the iPod navigation. Just hold menu on all down for an extra half secon and your are transported to the main (top) navigation. This is a “feature” of at least all 5th gen iPods with firmware 1.1 or above (before that holding Menu would ignite the backlight).
    Its tough to say that the Zune screen puts the iPod’s to shame as they share the same screen resolution. The pixels on the Zune are just slightly bigger; there isn’t more of the. Also, pressing the center button on the iPod switches to “large album art view.”
    I will agree that the Zune is good for consumers. Zune seems to be compelling and will push Apple also. Win-win no matter what you like.

  9. I'm sorry for commenting so late and before reading all of the comments, but 12 hours of battery life? That must be with WiFi turned off. With the WiFi turned on, it's probably three hours, maybe eight while in "beacon" mode.
    Do you think it's possible to share an m3u without DRM? If so, you could share the sharing with a playlist that tells you where to download. Of course, you'd have to be by a hotspot for that to work.

  10. You’re demeaning 3hive by comparing the real open sharing that happens here to Microsoft’s miserly three-day/three-play demo… even for songs that you wrote and performed yourself and so have full rights to share!
    I’m also not sure why people are all excited about having an iPod “alternative”. There are dozens of iPod “alternatives” out there … including the original version of the Zune… the Toshiba Gigabeat, which (like almost all such devices) costs *less* than either the Zune or the iPod and is (of course) already out there.
    And what’s up with that pricing anyway. What’s Microsoft doing talking up the price of the Zune as if being the same price as the iPod was some kind of miracle? Only Microsoft could take a $180 device and sell it for $250 and convince people that they’re cheap because they’re not gouging you more than Apple does!
    If the Zune succeeds even marginally it will be a stake in the heart of Microsoft’s existing content partners and licensees, since it’s incompatible with “Plays For Sure” WMA files… which means that consumers will actually have fewer choices than they do now!

  11. Peter– you’re right, 3hive’s sharing reigns supreme. I also agree that shackling a user’s original file with their DRM is a major weakness in their sharing philosophy. I told them as much everytime they asked me for my first impressions of the Zune. I was told again and again that was the way it had to be–that there was no convenient way to separate original and licensed material and that system wide functionality was necessary to honor labels’ licensed content.

  12. Unfortunately Microsoft is probably going to be like Sony and completely fail to learn their lesson if, as I expect, the “sharing” functionality of the Zune is largely ignored.
    Remember how Sony managed to almost completely torpedo the MiniDisc? That ticked me off, I’d have loved to see them take off and give us a cheap read-write medium back in the day, back before writable CDs were ubiquitous. Then they tried flash memory players that couldn’t even play MP3s. More recent events have sure demonstrated how well they learned that lesson.
    It’s pretty clear that Microsoft’s trying to get some astroturf support for the device… from people evangelizing about the Zune so their friends will broadcast their playlists and give them material to copy. Making sure that they direct that third play into their sound card so they can bypass the DRM :).
    I wonder how long before someone gets Linux on a Zune and sets up a walkabout Torrent seed.

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