Lotsa talk — maybe too much talk — about Zune, Microsoft’s new “iPod Killer,” and how it really doesn’t have a chance to grab much of Apple’s market share. Or be anything but a boondoggle.
However, we should all just try and remember that the iPod/iTunes juggernaut is anything but perfect, and there are actually several things that Microsoft could do with Zune to take advantage of those imperfections.
I’m not saying, of course, that they will, just that they should.
- No DRM’d music in their service. And make sure that the player supports everything but those silly locked Apple files. See what I mean? No way in hell that the major labels are going to go for that. However, I should point out that they did put out that Jessica Simpson song on .mp3 a couple of weeks ago and the Earth is still spinning just fine.
Look, the people who are going to share music with millions of strangers are going to share music with millions of strangers. And no amount of DRM is going to stop them. In the meantime, why treat the rest of us who, yes, make mix CDs and give music to a couple of our friends, and yet still purchase great volumes of music, why treat us like fracking criminals??
- It needs to play videos. And not just Windows Media Videos, either.
- Wireless. Totally.
- It needs to have AM, FM and one (or both) Satellite radio services. Shit, put some local VHF reception in there,as well. Direct TV? Probably not yet. But with the wireless, it could support Slingbox, and in a totally wired city, I could watch last night’s Baseball Tonight while on my commute. The point here is to make it a full-stop portable entertainment device, not just an music player that also plays videos.
- Oh, and make it easy to switch from input to input to input without having to look at the screen. Anybody who uses these things while excercising will thank you.
- Playlist history. Yes, the iPod does this well. And it’s an absolute necessity.
- Let it support the concept of weighing songs on a large scale. What I mean is that I want to be able to easily designate a genre, artist, album or song as — for example — “Heavy,” another as “Medium,” and another as “Light.” And so forth. And then, when I hit “Random,” the tracks with the “Heavy” designation come up more than the others, then the “Medium,” etc.
You make me a music player that will let me easily do weighing on as large or as small of a scale as I wish, and then when I play 100 songs, I can look back and see it it worked, I will evangelize you forever. This is one of my holy grails, not just for portable players, but for network music devices as well.
- Lower pricepoint. Make it between $50 – 100 cheaper than a comparable-sized iPod. Or has Microsoft forgotten that the one of the major reasons that they won the O/S battles was because people chose Windows machines because they felt that Macs were just too damn expensive?
Like I said, I doubt that — besides the wireless and probably some video support — any of this will happen with Zune. Which is why they won’t take down the iPod.