Zune doesn’t want just Europe. Zune wants the world!
Originally posted by Alex Zaharov-Reutt of iTWire.com
It looks like Microsoft will start with Europe first before continuing on with the battle for world domination and iPod annihilation. But does anyone really care?
Reuters uncovered that the Zune may be coming to Europe by the end of 2007, which it has to be said is an awfully long time to wait for what is currently last year’s technology, blown away by the latest developments from Apple. I also wrote an article covering this development. In a considered article, Playfuls.com also examines this issue and poses a very interesting question. Does Europe want the Zune? Their informal polling has uncovered that those surveyed weren’t really sure what a Zune was, associating it more with an iPod, and those that did know were interested in seeing the success of Vista and MSN’s video Soapbox service before making any firm decisions on potential future Zune ownership.
The informal survey uncovered that most people questioned had decided that sticking with their existing iPods was the planned course of action. They also uncovered Alexa.com statistics showing visits to the Zune website are dropping.
The big question is not if Europe wants the Zune, but if the entire world wants the Zune. We’ve just seen everyone go totally nuts over a product that you can’t even buy yet: the Apple iPhone. On the surface, it has almost all of the elements of the perfect portable device, with the deficiencies of storage space, battery life, 3G and more well catalogued.
The quest for Microsoft is to develop a new model of Zune that people are interested in buying. If Microsoft just replicates what Apple has done with the iPod and iTunes, why in lord’s name would anyone really care, especially give that Zune’s No.1 feature-of-features, the much vaunted wireless music sharing feature, or ‘squirting’, isn’t even guaranteed to work, as companies such as Universal and Sony Music decide that certain songs just aren’t squirtable, as discovered by Engadget.
Now that we’ve all seen the iPhone, everyone’s expectation of a phone, an mp3 player, a portable web surfing device and a portable video player has just been catapulted into the next dimension. It’s a whole new level of expectation. The old trick of adding a voice recorder and an FM radio never worked in the first place with all those mp3 player iPod clones, and adding a few extra features on top of that isn’t going to work either.
If that was the case, the squirtable Zune would have squirted its way to the top of the sales charts. Instead, it’s got a tiny 10.2% share, which some are questioning the accuracy of.
If Microsoft really wants Europe and the rest of the world, we’re going to need to see some massive improvements in future Zune models. We’re going to need to see features that work 100% every time. We’re going to need to see something that nears the iPhone in wow factor. Microsoft might claim that with Vista, the ‘wow starts now’.
But with the Zune, any ‘wow’ that people felt completely evaporated when the iPhone came onto the scene. That wasn’t just wow, it was wow squared x infinity + 1, which is one heckuva lot of wow.
C’mon Microsoft. Apple has shown that there is plenty of innovation in the mp3/video player space to be achieved. If the next Zune isn’t something totally amazing, the only people that will have one are Steve Ballmer’s kids, who are reportedly banned from having iPods.
So the challenge is on. Whatever ‘solid plans’ Microsoft had for the Zune have no doubt gone through some close examination the past few days. The world is watching, Microsoft. Give us a product worthy of buying, instead of just another iPod clone, and you may just get what you wish for.