Friday, March 23, 2007

Zune is For the Long Term

People were quick to dismiss the Zune as just an iPod copycat, a product of Microsoft's greed to attain a monopoly in everything and a subsequent failure at that. Perhaps we were too quick to judge, just like how the original Xbox made the impression that Microsoft is a greedy monopoly and was a failure with consoles, now, a few years on, who knows where we would be with only the Playstation 3 to provide the HD fix many gamers yearn for.

With the announcement of the iPhone Apple is beginning to show the exact same symptoms that Sony has been showing as of late, a disconnection from the consumer caused by arrogance, the false impression of being the perfect company where all the consumers are devoted followers. This kind of arrogance comes from years of market dominance.

Every new generation of the iPod seems to be simple iterative improvements with no indications of any radical shift in philosophy or any major innovations and with the announcement of the heavily business oriented iPhone it is quite clear the market is becoming saturated with the same products over and over. This has created a desire for disturbance in the market and if a company can successfully capitalize on such an opportunity it would meet with a lot of consumer interest, i.e. they'll sell bucket loads of their product.

For Microsoft there are two problems, two problems it had once faced before with its foray into console gaming, that is, of its name and its goal. Lets face it, Microsoft thanks to its flagship product, 'Windows', has established a reputation of being a greedy monopoly and has as such created the general impression of being built atop cursed human souls. Microsoft's other problem is its goal, it is setting itself up very high, almost guaranteed failure. Microsoft is trying to beat the iPod with the Zune, Microsoft is trying to beat the iPod with the Zune, are we understood?

With the Xbox it took Microsoft a good three years before establishing itself as a viable competitor, an underdog, but a competitor none the less. How can Microsoft prove it can take it to Apple the same way it did with Sony? What did Microsoft do in those three years to establish itself as a viable competitor against Sony? It proved to the consumer that it could create good games for its console and that it could create experiences that you wouldn't get on other consoles, namely Xbox Live. That was Microsoft's disturbance in the video gaming world, now the competitors are stumbling over each other trying to catch up to it and match it.

The Zune's disturbance is quite clear, Web 2.0, sharing, personalizing, expanding, with the help of other Zune users. The first generation Zune's music sharing feature seems to be the only thing thats going for it in terms of socializing and web 2.0 philosophy, however Microsoft has plans to expand on that, from Xbox Live connectivity to podcasting, it is in Microsoft's intention to live up to its target of creating a social environment where all users can be a part of the marketing engine not just through passive word of mouth of how cool the Zune is but through actual interactions with the product.

Of course the goal is ambitious, but it is good, it is needed, because without Microsoft there would be no competitor against Apple, any market that is left to be dominated by one brand is an exploited market, love or hate Microsoft what they are doing is competing and giving consumers choices and showing them potential, whether they deliver on the potential is another matter entirely, that will be the cause of concern in the coming years, not days, weeks or months.

1 comment:

Zune Scene said...

Well put, competition can only help the consumer and iPod/iTunes has become a monopoly.