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View Full Version : Should Microsoft Started Smaller?

Aaron Roma
12-01-2006, 05:30 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://daringfireball.net/2006/11/did_microsoft_copy_the_wrong_ipod' target='_blank'>http://daringfireball.net/2006/11/did_microsoft_copy_the_wrong_ipod</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>&quot;Looking both at these Amazon rankings and the iPods I see people using out on the street on a daily basis, I can&rsquo;t help but think that Microsoft copied the wrong iPod. The Nano is the sweet spot for Apple, and it&rsquo;s the Nano-ish players from competitors that are registering in the sales charts.&quot;</em> </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This article from Daring Fireball brings up a good point.&nbsp; The top of Amazon's Bestsellers list for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/electronics/172630/ref=pd_ts_e_nav/105-5712797-2551625">MP3 Players</a>&nbsp;is dominated by the smaller flash based players such as the Nano and Sansa with a scattering of larger hard-drive based units. Considering Microsoft's decision to enter the market with only one model, was the 30GB level the right choice? Would Microsoft have been better served by first introducing a Nano competitor? Do you think the first model introduced was a conscience decision on the part of the Zune team, or was it a matter of facilitating the launch by reusing the basic design of the Gigabeat?</p>

12-01-2006, 09:02 AM
Second guessing the model type and feature set is pointless unless you are privy to all the marketing studies, pricing data, and manufacturing realities. Product development exists in the imperfect real world. At some point you stop crunching the spreadsheets, make decisions, and commit to a product. You can tweek it somewhat as you go but you never get it out the door with scope creep and indecision. No significant product is ever perfect. This discussion turns into pure speculation immediately unless you have all the facts. I really like my Zune and I'm glad I didn't have to wait several more months for it.

12-01-2006, 11:57 AM
I disagree with the article - I think Microsoft did the right thing by starting with the top model in the range.

This first generation of Zune is obviously designed to test the water and encourage feedback before The Big Push. A large HD-based model will appeal the knowledgable technophiles (i.e. geeks! ;)) and I'm sure that they will be able to give Microsoft lots of pointers on how to perfect the experience for later releases. Less experienced users tend to go for the smaller players and won't put up with having to hack their registry in order to get features to work. Imagine the backlash and negative press Microsoft could have received if they targetted the mainstream straight away.

Zune isn't ready for the big time. Give it a few generations and then Microsoft can take an aim at the market leader.

David Tucker
12-01-2006, 03:03 PM
I think also, given that MS wants to push the Zune Pass, that a HDD player is more suited for that.

Aaron Roma
12-01-2006, 06:31 PM
I think also, given that MS wants to push the Zune Pass, that a HDD player is more suited for that.

You know, that's a pretty good point.

12-02-2006, 12:52 AM
I think for what Microsoft wanted the HDD model was right for where they are going, but not right for the world(or U.S.) at large. What device sells? It isn't even the iPod Video. It is their small units. Things people can carry with them. The average person does not want to deal with Video conversion or any of that. Just dump their music on the device on go for a run. That's it!! Portability for music is where the MAJORITY of users are at. So I QUARANTEE that if MS had launched a Nano competitor I would not be sitting around waiting for all the bugs to get out. My wife would have a "Zuni" in her stocking.

At the same time hardware will not take a lot to get right. And I think once we move past the production level prototype that is the current Zune we will see things take off. If I were MS I would have wanted to get the Software right before launching a Mass market device and having many, many grumbly people. With the HDD device they have time, as mostly you are just getting purchases from Early adaptors, to get things right. I definitively think Apple has a struggle on their hands, but right now it is just a small itch. MS really goes at things for the long haul. <O:p

flatline response
12-02-2006, 01:57 PM
Warning: Newbie Alert. News at 11.

(Now that's over with...)

IMO, MSFT was correct in addressing the flagship unit first. But they should've offered a large cap version as well, rather than just the 30GB unit.

For someone like me, a confirmed iPod user who already has a large non-DRM AAC (m4a) library, a 30GB Zune is made even less attractive simply because we're already b*tching up a storm at AAPL for not making iPod cap big enough. That said, I still bought a Zune anyways (I like the hardware regardless, and am willing to early adopt just to put it through its paces), but I strongly suspect that I'm the exception rather than anything even close to resembling being on the same planet as the rule.

I actually like Mr. Brown. Don't care for its management techniques (the Zune software), though. Or the Zune website, either; it's too superficial for a DAP geek like me. The hiccups through the installation process were unexcusable, particularly when it occurs on a relatively bare bones XP Pro SP2 box that has a minimum software install base to muck up the registry with. The problems with the library creation locking up (when reading the iTunes directory) was also unnerving as well; visions of the Zune software (it NEEDS a better name than 'Zune Software', btw) corrupting those tens of thousands of song files does not go down very well, even though ultimately none of that actually happened. But I didn't KNOW that at the time.

But the CS experience wasn't too bad (Zune wouldn't sync with the software); the hold time was short, and they were quick to hand off to an elevated CS tech when it became clear the initial tech couldn't find the answers within his available knowledge base.

Trouble is, I NEVER had to contact Apple CS for any of my iPods (had to return 'em for defects, yes, but never had any issues with either iTunes, iPod installer and their installations into Windows). But the Zune is a 1G product and in fairness I didn't start with iPods until the 3G came out.

Now that my initial impressions rant is over--newbies are like that, I guess--I'd say MSFT does need to get secondary Zune models online quickly. Flash-based units are a must for the fitness and exercise crowd and anyone who prefers the small FF afforded by non-HD units (like me). Apple really got it right when Jobs finally caved to flash-based designs; Redmond will likely see the same sort of response when their first anti-nano and anti-Shuffle players arrive, hopefully with better software that actually has a iTunes-equivalent nametag by then. And LOTS of colors, if I use my wife's personal tastes as a guide. Or so I think.