On Tuesday Microsoft began welcoming the world to ‘The Social’. It’s Thursday morning and I still have no clue what ‘The Social’ is. I’ve scoured The Google for two full days to no avail. The Zune hype is making me dizzy.
If you’ve been following our Zune coverage here at Medialoper you probably know that we had pretty low expectations for the Zune. As unlikely as it may seem, I think the Zune launch may have actually turned out worse than we expected. Here’s a round-up of some of the Zune “highlights” from the past few days:
- Sales have reportedly been slow. In fact, the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco was delaying sales of the Zune because the display apparently didn’t fit the available shelf space. You would think that Microsoft might have sales and marketing people to address these issues before the product actually goes on sale.
- Zune is not yet Windows Vista compatible. This despite the fact that Vista beta testers are likely to be the very same people who run out and buy a Zune the day it goes on sale. How on earth could Microsoft launch the Zune without it being compatible with their next generation operating system? A patch is expected soon, but in the meantime there are more than a few unhappy Microsoft fans.
- I’ve seen multiple reports of installation problems. Even when the Zune software installs without issue, the process is surprisingly long and involved.
- Speaking of installation problems, one of the Zune installation error screens has been attracting quite a bit of unwanted attention. The screen has become something of a digital-era Rorschach Test. Most people report seeing either a group of innocent 20-somethings rolling around in the grass while screaming in anguish, or a highly erotic lesbian sex scene. Take a look and judge for yourself. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is safe for work. Proceed at your own risk.
- Zune.com is apparently still not owned by Microsoft. If you want to know more about the Zune you’ll have to go to Zune.net. Worse yet, as of last night the official Zune website was ranked third in Google search results. Microsoft might want to consider hiring a search engine expert. Especially since they don’t have control of the .com domain.
- A few analysts and reviewers have started to notice that the Zune is actually a slightly remodeled Toshiba Gigabeat. Except the Gigabeat has twice the capacity for just $10 more, plus it’s PlaysForSure compatible, works with Windows Vista, and doesn’t include the buggy Zune software.
- Amazing as this may sound, the Zune software doesn’t support podcasts. While you can play podcasts on the Zune, you’ll have to subscribe and download with some other program — like iTunes. Again, you have to wonder what Microsoft is thinking. Did they simply forget that a lot of people actually listen to podcasts? Or were they not prepared to take on Apple over the use of ‘pod’ in a non-Apple product. I’m sure a future version of the Zune software will support podcasts, but Microsoft will probably end up calling them Zunecasts, or something equally silly.
- Tech journalists have started to balk at the terms of the Zune Reviewer Agreement. Microsoft doesn’t want anyone disassembling the Zune, and they’re very particular about what reviewers call the product. I’m not sure what this means for reviews that are written in Hebrew
- Media reviews have gone from mixed to bad. A high profile product placement on CNN went very badly (see below). In the LA market I watched a KABC newscaster repeatedly referred to the product as the ‘iPod Zune’.
All in all that’s not bad for a couple of days on the market. How much worse could things possibly get for the Zune?