Friday, September 15, 2006

In whose best interest?

Did you miss it?

There was a second product announcement this week. One for Microsoft's Zune MP3 player. Somehow, it lacked the intensity of interest Apple's announcement generated. While several tech sites had live text-messaged updates of Steve Job's speech as it happened, I didn't see any real coverage of the Zune rollout until after it was over.

Lots of virtual ink will be devoted to this new "iPod killer." As you read, consider this: at the core of the Apple vs. Everyone Else there's been a fundamental philosophical difference. Apple started with what the consumer wanted, and worked around what the media companies demanded. Microsoft, et al started with what the media companies wanted, and worked around what the consumers needed.

Has that changed? I don't think so. Consider the Zune's coolest feature, the ability to share songs with other Zune players wirelessly. If I want you to check out a new band, I can squirt some tracks to your player. That serves the consumer.

However, you have three days to play the tracks, and you can only play them three times before the files are disabled. The media companies' needs trumps the consumer's desires. Think about it – when friends loan you movies or music to check out, do you do so right away, or when you can get to it? In my case I’d just end up with a lot of disabled files cluttering up my Zune.

IMHO, until other manufacturers make the focus the consumer, not the media companies, we'll never have more than an iPod wounder.

- Ralph

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