You’re probably wondering how the hell an unreleased product jumps the shark. By definition something has to have been around long enough to become a parody of itself before this happens. The amazing thing is that Microsoft has managed to turn Zune into a parody of itself without ever going through the product release cycle. I could give you some very specific details on how they managed this feat, but that would violate the NDA they asked me to sign. Instead, I’ll point to a few of the obvious signs that anyone with access to Technorati could easily uncover on their own.
- The product name from hell. If last week’s revelation that Microsoft might have trouble marketing Zune in Israel wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that Zune is essentially a French-Canadian euphemism for “penis”. At least Zune’s naming problems are thematically consistent.
- Better get a flea collar. Microsoft might also have some problems in Japan, where Zune is the name of a cat boutique.
- Always good for a laugh. It’s only been a couple of weeks since Microsoft announced the official product name and the web is already rife with Zune humor. It’s only a matter of time before Leno and Letterman jump on the bandwagon. User Friendly picked up on the Hebrew reference, Joy of Tech featured a hilarious strip revealing the inside workings of Microsoft’s naming process, and Engadget ran a very subtle (but satisfying) parody of the copy for Microsoft’s next PlaysForSure ad campaign.
- Weak Talking Points. Microsoft is generating a phenomenal amount of astroturf in support of Zune. The interesting thing about this overt propaganda is that some of it may indicate the direction Microsoft’s marketing campaign will take once Zune is released. A piece titled 10 reasons why I’ll swap my iPod for a Zune reads like a script for a Steve Ballmer’s keynote address. The writer is upset because his iPod “refused” to upload his entire music collection (and by refused he means that he has a 30 GB iPod and tried to upload more than 30 GB of music). The article goes on to complain about the cost of the iPod and the fact that iTunes uses a proprietary format. This despite the fact that it’s been revealed that the 30 GB Zune will sell for $399 (as much as the 60 GB iPod) and that Microsoft will take an iTunes-like approach to DRM. The article laughably assumes that Microsoft’s unknown and unreleased product will be superior to Apple’s 5th generation product immediately upon release. We all know about Microsoft’s history with 1.0 products, don’t we? Actually, it occurs to me that it’s been so long since Microsoft released a 1.0 product that some of the younger set may not be familiar with the company’s track record. Oh well, they’ll learn soon enough.
- The Face Of Zune. Beyond the astroturf, there seems to be a surprising number of Microsoft fan boys anxious to jump on the Zune bandwagon. One in particular is a video
podcasterzunecaster named Ira. Ira is quickly becoming the face of Zune. If Ira is any indication, the Zune will be targeted at a whole new generation of music lovers. Smart move on Microsoft’s part. Apple hasn’t yet picked up on the fact that there’s a huge amount of pent-up frustration among grandparents just looking for a way to rebel against their grandkid’s media player. Anyway, Ira is a man who has clearly drunk the Microsoft Kool-Aid. He sort of reminds me of a janitor I used to know.
Oh, and the latest report is that the initial release of Zune won’t even support video, so you’ll have to watch Ira here on Medialoper, because he won’t play on your Zune.