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Old 10-16-2006, 10:13 PM
Jason Dunn
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Default Zune Networking: The Rough Road Ahead

There are a lot of "laws" in computing the pundits are fond of quoting, but as I was thinking about the wireless networking feature on the Zune, one such law came to mind: Metcalf's Law, first formulated in reference to Ethernet, it's easily applied to any other node-based network. The law states that the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of the number of users. This is where the Zune will have it's biggest challenge.


[pre-Zuned source image from Wikipedia]

Let's say I have one Zune. In fact, when the Zune launches, I can pretty much guarantee that none of my friends, family, or anyone I know will have a Zune. So how valuable is the wireless song-sharing feature on the Zune if I have the only Zune? One squared is always one. No value. If a friend of mine gets a Zune, there are now two nodes in the Zune network, and when both Zunes are within range of each other, the value of the network goes up tremendously: two squared is four. Yet how often am I going to be around that friend with both of us toting our Zunes? If I'm at a conference and 50 people there have Zunes, the the value of the network explodes exponentially.

The Zune, as a music/photo/video player, will have value on it's own, but it will have the same value as an iPod or any other digital media device. The real power of the Zune is in it's sharing functionality, but without enough nodes on the network, the value will be severely limited. That will be one of the big challenges Microsoft will face: how do you build the value of the network as quickly as possible? This is the same challenge the first phone company had: who wants to buy a phone when there's no one to call, because no one has phones yet?

One of the things Microsoft could have done to immediately enhance the out of box networking value of the Zune would be to eliminate the physical barriers of sharing. As in, make the Zune Internet -capable, allowing users to share content with each other no matter where they are in the world, as long as they have an Internet connection. There are, of course, many complex issues with making something like that happen, but it's one way to give the Zune value right out of the box. As it stands now, the Zune peer to peer network is starting from zero units, and it will take a lot of units being sold to have enough of them in the market for this feature to be worthwhile.
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:25 PM
ucfgrad93
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Great article Jason. If anything it makes the music sharing a non-issue at least initially.

So we get wifi, but we can't sync with our computers via wifi, can't download music via wifi, and can only share music if someone else has a Zune. Not exactly the key feature to make everyone dump their ipods.
 
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Old 10-17-2006, 08:43 PM
rzanology
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but promise is the key feature to make everyone dump ipods. ipods havn't shown anything promising for years. Video??? come on....all of my pocket pcs and ppc phones have beend oing video for i dont know how long...nothing new. not impressed. wifi???....now im impressed. Lets look at it this way...maybe microsoft will be driven my the "hacker" community the way sony was and is with the psp. If you dont want to give it to them...they will hack it untill they get it.


what youz think?
 
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Old 10-17-2006, 10:46 PM
ucfgrad93
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While having wifi is a great idea, Microsoft has so crippled its use, that it is not a compelling reason for people to dump their ipods NOW. In the future when the wifi is not so crippled, perhaps it will be a compelling reason to switch.

Mark my words, plenty of people will buy this when they hear it has wifi, and then bitch up a storm cause they didn't know how limited the wifi really is.
 
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:47 PM
Dyvim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rzanology View Post
Video??? come on....all of my pocket pcs and ppc phones have beend oing video for i dont know how long...nothing new. not impressed. wifi???....now im impressed.
It's the whole package that will impress or not. Personally I'm more impressed with an 80 GB iPod that is thinner and lighter than a 30 GB Zune. Sure other players do 80 GB storage, but that's hardly the point. For me, storage is more important than WiFi, so on that front iPod has the lead on Zune until Zune comes out with some higher capacity players. For others who are into the community thing, Zune will be better than iPod, and so on.
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:57 PM
Dyvim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Dunn View Post
The Zune, as a music/photo/video player, will have value on it's own, but it will have the same value as an iPod or any other digital media device.
Hmmm... I imagine that as a media player alone it will have a value similar to other digital media devices but not really the same; it will have more value than some and less value than others depending on form factor, design, features, functionality, ease of use, etc.

I agree though that for now it's real value and power will be in its sharing functionality. Will be very interesting to see how all this plays out.
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