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Old 11-22-2007, 10:30 AM
Adam Krebs
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"MP3 player makers include many popular [features] so as to “cover all the bases” and appease as many users as possible. This is the way that anythingbutipod manufactures have tried to compete with the Apple- offer just many more features at a much lower price, while Apple offered simplicity at a premium. Both strategies are viable since there are many types of consumers. While Apple’s strategy has worked well, they are now feeling the pressure in the market and are slowly absorbing the jack-of-all-trades approach. It is not as profound since it has been very gradual, but if you look at the history of iTunes, you will see how cluttered it has become by having to accommodate the many features added to iPods over the years. They also continue wow us with petty but impractical ones like “cover flow” as if we were a bunch of attention deficit two year olds."

Grahm Skee at AnythingButiPod has a great write-up on the problems faced with trying to be too many things at once. The iPod began as a great Portable Music Player (PMP) that was good at playing music and little else. As users demanded pictures and video, the iPod adapted to provide those features. The problem is, Apple hasn't really updated the way users interact with their music since the second or third generation. They became too afraid to disenfranchise users, and, in a decidedly un-Apple fashion, made their software and firmware bloated and devoid of any significant advances.

Most of the reviews I've read about the Gen2 Marketplace have pointed to its simple design as an advantage over iTunes. PC Magazine's Tim Gideon, in his review of the Zune80 praised the Marketplace and software as making iTunes "seem like a big, boring spreadsheet". Gideon gave the 80 PC Magazine's Editor's Choice Award.

"I write this in hope that Microsoft will continue to offer the Zune as a simple media centric device and not cave to the people screaming for clocks, games, web browsers, and other add-ons. Time, energy, and recourses are better spent improving the users’ music experience."

When Microsoft announced that they would be getting rid of the five-star rating system in favor of the heart/broken heart ratings, there was a huge outcry from longtime five-star users. I watched from the sidelines, and laughed at how people could be so upset over something as simple as a rating feature. That is, until I found out my beloved flagging feature would be gone too. I was preparing my own internet assault, planning to shout from the rooftops the injustice I had been dealt as a casualty in the "simplicity wars", but I (mostly) refrained, instead agreeing that I'd wait 'til I tried the new device and firmware, and then launch a full-scale campaign.

What I discovered is that I really didn't need the flagging as much as I thought I did. Looking over the software's inbox, I realized I had hundreds of flags that didn't serve much purpose to me, and that on-device features like "go to artist" held much more value than flagging. I realize that I may not agree with all the decisions the Zune team makes, but I've learned that, given enough time, someone will eventually come along to fill in the gaps. That's what the Zune project is all about.
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