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The Zune is dead
March 14, 2011 5:55 PM   Subscribe

The Zune [player] is dead. "Microsoft will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones."

For some reason, this news is not (yet) mentioned on Microsoft's "Zune Insider" website.

Nov 15, 2006:
Craig Ferguson on the new Zune: "... and it's five years too late".

December 12, 2006:
"I guess "squirting" (a la Zune) didn't turn out to be so fashionable."

Dec 25, 2006:
"Talk about a lump of coal, who got a brown Zune for Christmas? Really, who's parents wouldn't spring the extra $10 for the real deal?"

Jan 30, 2007:
"The entire distinguishing factor of the Microsoft Zune - as touted over and over by Microsoft - is supposed to be its ability to "squirt" songs wirelessly to other Zunes.

Microsoft went so far as to create a mock Apple "switch" demonstration for a recent conference in which the Apple user fumbles around with iTunes trying to find content, and the Zune user coolly and casually gets squirted on (hey, it's their terminology, not mine).

When the whole squirting thing was first announced, I thought it was a FANTASTIC idea. I really thought Microsoft had a home run, making an MP3 player wireless capable, brilliant. Then as details emerged my impression changed. The rub came when it turned out that you could only interact wirelessly with other Zunes, and then only to send songs that would last for three days and then squirt away. Frankly that sucks, that pretty much kills it."

Jan 26, 2009:
"Late Friday, when the company filed its 10-Q, the "why" was a lot clearer: "Zune platform revenue decreased $100 million or 54 percent reflecting a decrease in device sales." Either would have been enough to wind up the "ding, dong, the Zune is dead" crowd; together, you'd think it's time to buy some landfill space."

Sept 25, 2009:
"Surprisingly, CNET says that Microsoft has killed the ability to "squirt" DRM-crippled music directly between Zune users. Not that it will be missed."
posted by iviken (193 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
NOOOOOOOO!
posted by Kevin Street at 5:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rocket that up your Zunehole.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


glad I decided to go with a Cowon to replace the iRiver then
posted by edgeways at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


.
posted by arveale at 6:03 PM on March 14, 2011


It's as if tens of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
posted by tittergrrl at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2011 [68 favorites]


Goodnight Zune.
posted by Sparx at 6:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [33 favorites]


Too bad, actually. The tiny Zune players before the HD are really quite nice, and the subscription-based music service is basically Rhapsody.
posted by true at 6:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something, something Ozymandias something else.
posted by localhuman at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will admit that I had a Zune. I bought it for two reasons: 1) It wasn't an iPod and I am a contrarian bastard. Lord help me if joy and contentment ever become popular. 2) It had an FM radio and I am an NPR addict.

After it died in a tragic bicycle related accident though, I went back to an iPod. Why? Because the Zune had the most bloated piece of shit software ever created by man or beast, it would only function through that software and therefore wouldn't function as a flash drive like an iPod, its method of buying music was fucking stupid (credits? really? just let me give you money, you Redmond piece of shit), and, finally -- and by finally I mean "it's taken you long enough you Cupertino pieces of shit" -- my new iPod has an FM radio.

Seriously, the Zune was like a bunch of Microsoft engineers looked and iPod and said, "How can we improve this?" and then a (better funded) group of engineers said, "How can we screw those guys?"
posted by Panjandrum at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2011 [38 favorites]


Purely reactionary product killed by competitors with actual vision, film at 11.
posted by GuyZero at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is your future, Nokia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


Zune tattoo guy: "it just seems that Microsoft didn’t pull their weight."
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:10 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's as if tens of voices suddenly cried out in terror
It's as if tens of voices suddenly squirted out in terror.
posted by Mcable at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Interesting, but sad. You'd think that for all the resources and installed userbase Microsoft had ready to apply to this market segment, they could have come up with something better. I earnestly wish they had.
posted by ardgedee at 6:13 PM on March 14, 2011


Zune tattoo guy article: "the general waning of the Zune fanboy scene"

Understatement of the year.
posted by GuyZero at 6:14 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


They just can't say no. All their products must have everything, be everything. They need to be able to cut to the heart of what the product should be like Apple did with the IPod, IPhone and then IPad.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:16 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Squirting. I think that's what I saw in Tiajuana once.
posted by bardic at 6:17 PM on March 14, 2011


Wow, Zune Tattoo Guy is one of the only people I've ever seen who look better with a goatee than not. Poor schmuck.
posted by Chichibio at 6:18 PM on March 14, 2011


This sucks actually. My brother just got a new generation Zune, and as much as I want bash MS, it's actually pretty nice.

It seems that a lot of electronic hardware hits its stride right before it gets the ax. I'm still rockin' a Creative Zen Vision M - it gets constant use and has gotten constant use for going on 5 years now. It's about perfect, and I dread the day it dies. Don't really want an iPod, y'all.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:19 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bought a couple of the 30GB 'bricks' off of woot during a sale, and they are by no means bad products. The Zune PC software has an annoyingly weird design, but it also has the best 'Smart Playlist' (Zune DJ) feature I've come across - better than Apple's, last.fm, or Pandora.
posted by unmake at 6:20 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will admit that I had a Zune. I bought it for two reasons: 1) It wasn't an iPod and I am a contrarian bastard. Lord help me if joy and contentment ever become popular. 2) It had an FM radio and I am an NPR addict.

Most NPR shows have podcasts available, though. Sure, it's not real time but you get higher audio quality and no commercials.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 6:21 PM on March 14, 2011


Wow, took them long enough to announce this. Zune has been on deathwatch for an awfully long time. I can't take any pleasure with their withdrawal, though, I really hate to see the consumer/computer crossover market completely ceded to Apple.
posted by Nelson at 6:25 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gone to the Island of Misfit Toys. Godspeed, Zune.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:30 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple having a defacto monopoly on "portable music" isn't a good thing, though I doubt anyone here would argue that. I wonder though, if an upstart portable music company could force Apple to open up their standards. I don't think it'd be hard to argue that Apple is being anticompetitive by keeping any other device from operating out of those iPod car adapters or boom boxes.
posted by geoff. at 6:30 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm an Australian. I live in Australia. Did this ever end up coming out down here?
posted by dumbland at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


err, though I doubt anyone here would argue against that.
posted by geoff. at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2011


> Most NPR shows have podcasts available

For that matter, there's a free Public Radio Player for iOS devices. You can use it like a mega-radio-tuner, choosing NPR stations based on what's closest, what looks interesting, or what shows they're offering at the moment. You can also listen to podcasts listed on the NPR, PRI, PRX and APR websites.

There are other apps that are less all-encompassing and probably easier to navigate if all you want is to listen to "Wait Wait..." on your own schedule.
posted by ardgedee at 6:32 PM on March 14, 2011


Most NPR shows have podcasts available, though. Sure, it's not real time but you get higher audio quality and no commercials.

They also have an app - I think on both iOS and Android - that lets you stream from the interwebs on your smartphone.

The zune was born DOA: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/1/10/
posted by device55 at 6:32 PM on March 14, 2011


Aw. It's true the older Zunes were...unimpressive to most.
But my Zune HD is the best portable media player I've had, and its Metro interface gave me a look at what Phone 7 navigation was going to look like a couple years early. And it's so sturdy it'll probably be around another couple years - it's outlasted two Android phones in my pockets.

I think the big mistakes they made were not making a big enough deal of how well the Zune HD hardware integrated directly with both Windows and XBOX 360, and that the subscription-based Zune Marketplace was a better way to do music for a lot of users. There's no reason there shouldn't have been more equality between "you've got a Mac and an iPod, I've got a PC and a Zune" as ecosystems and quibbling over minor features.

But the iPod captured mindshare first, and was cross-platform, so it won the hardware race. If the Zune Marketplace dies, or iTunes gets a subscription-based model, than it's curtains for Windows music.
posted by bartleby at 6:35 PM on March 14, 2011


Microsoft's failing comes form trying to do what every other company is doing, and doing it a couple years too late. They're not the only ones with this problem, but they ain't doing themselves any favors by half-baking everything so hard. MP3 Players, search engines, internet advertising, touchscreen UI phones, app stores, tablets and tablets and tablets.

They need to stick to one or two things they can do well. Hopefully, killing the Zune is the start of that, but I doubt it.
posted by SansPoint at 6:36 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure, it's not real time but you get higher audio quality and no commercials.

Very few podcasts have higher quality audio than broadcast FM. Also, there was at least one model of the Zune (probably more?) that could pick up HD radio, which is very useful in a market where stations care about that kind of thing. It was the only portable HD radio receiver (in the US, at least) for a while, and is pretty reasonably priced for HD Radio + a bunch of storage. That said, I'm not sure that a lot of people are going to be losing sleep in a world without new Zunes.
posted by god hates math at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What was fun, when Zune was young, was seeing this mysterious crowd of Zune fans appear in the comments of any anti- (or mockery-inclined, or indeed even-handed) Zune article to argue fiercely how wrong the writer was. If by argue, you mean disappear after one posting.

Here in the UK, people were keen to get their hands on them anyway. At first, MS was peachy keen to promise stuff to hacks and others, but it didn't take long for a broody silence to descend on those European plans. It's England, man! We invented brown.

Alas, fair Zune.
posted by Devonian at 6:43 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Zune platform revenue decreased $100 million or 54 percent reflecting a decrease in device sales

Wow, I wish I could make $200 million dollars and call something a flop.
posted by mkb at 6:45 PM on March 14, 2011


The whole concept of a stand-alone MP3 player is kind of redundant at this point. If you are going to get one at this point, you can just get a $24 sansa fuse or whatever, and most people's cellphones are perfectly capable music players. My phone could play MP3s but I don't want to use it while working out. So I got a $25 music player and that works fine.

The interesting thing is the ability to 'squirt' songs between players. Unfortunately Microsoft crippled the implementation over copyright fears, which was understandable given their stance on IP but they were basically signing their devices death warrant.
posted by delmoi at 6:48 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's funny. When Dale Evans died, I was surprised, thinking she'd been dead for years, also.
posted by Danf at 6:49 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abe Vigoda outlives yet another tech product.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:50 PM on March 14, 2011 [24 favorites]


I'm another fan of the Creative Zen, but I had plans for a Zune on the backburner for when my beloved but discontinued Vision M eventually dies. Time to start looking for another MP3 player that can hold a shitload of music. All I want is to be able have a large chunk of music on a portable player. How did that become so difficult? I thought it would get easier as technology got better. If my phone could hold 30+ GB I'd be happy to move it all to that.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Remember ten to fifteen years ago when MS was going to use their desktop dominance to take over the internet, digital music, smart phones and even television? How they managed to fumble all of those balls over the last decade is probably fodder for a dozen MBA theses.

Does /. still use the Bill Gates as Borg icon for Microsoft stories?
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll admit it: I liked the look of the brown Zune. If I could have afforded it at the time, I would have bought it.

But man, am I ever glad I didn't. Thank heavens for student loan debt!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:55 PM on March 14, 2011


After it died in a tragic bicycle related accident though, I went back to an iPod.
...
I'm still rockin' a Creative Zen Vision M ... It's about perfect, and I dread the day it dies. Don't really want an iPod, y'all.
There are more choices besides the iPod people. ThisSansa Clip is just $28 and it has a Micro SDHC slot, which means you can put up to 32gb on it, and 8-16gb cards are really cheap these days. I have an older 2gb Sansa Fuse, with an 8gb card in it. I still haven't filled it up with music.

And it requires no software. I didn't have to install a single thing on the machine, you can load files on the device via USB, or you can just put music files on the card directly with a card reader. The songs will play. And in theory I could take that same card and pop it into my cellphone and play the songs there.

Really, a stand alone MP3 player shouldn't cost more then $50. No way should you pay the prices for the Zune or the iPod touch if you just want to play music.
posted by delmoi at 6:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


How they managed to fumble all of those balls over the last decade is Steve Ballmer
posted by fleetmouse at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


> they were basically signing their devices death warrant.

That's it.

If they had just said, "screw the RIAA" and let people zap (squirt, ick) each other whole playlists back in 2006, they would have had a monster on their hands.

Even if it was just Zune-to-Zune, people would have been pawing iPods out of the way to get one.

That, would have been a "killer app".

Wonder how many tech hardware companies have noticed this lesson?

Doesn't matter, I suppose, because the sad irony is that Microsoft is one of the few companies large enough to get away with it, yet because of their size and market aspirations, they're also massively encumbered by IP foolishness.
posted by mmrtnt at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


octothorpe: Does /. still use the Bill Gates as Borg icon for Microsoft stories?

They've even done up a custom version along with their other new icons.
posted by dumbland at 6:59 PM on March 14, 2011


More space than a Nomad. Wireless. Lame.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Remember ten to fifteen years ago when MS was going to use their desktop dominance to take over the internet, digital music, smart phones and even television? How they managed to fumble all of those balls over the last decade is probably fodder for a dozen MBA theses.

Oddly enough, they've done pretty well with video games, though.
posted by box at 7:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Atrocity Exhibition.
posted by plexi at 7:02 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

My Zune still works and I like it.
posted by drezdn at 7:02 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sansa Clip+ for life!

Or until it breaks. At which time I will buy another.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Doesn't matter, I suppose, because the sad irony is that Microsoft is one of the few companies large enough to get away with it, yet because of their size and market aspirations, they're also massively encumbered by IP foolishness.

This is Microsoft, the company with the gigantic bullseye painted on it with lawyer attractant paint since the early 90s?
posted by Artw at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2011


It's aspirational DRM: Software/Hardware that prevents you from doing things it's maker wishes were illegal. That's what killed Sony as well. Apple just released a music player that let people play music files they already had without any trouble. Sony couldn't bring themselves to do it. I actually bought a Sony DAP that used memory sticks and ATRAC encoding. You had to convert songs using Sony's annoying software before they would play. It was pretty annoying. It was pretty small, though.
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


octothorpe writes "How they managed to fumble all of those balls over the last decade is probably fodder for a dozen MBA theses. "

Well they did have to endure a messy protracted anti trust fight. Even though they won it both gave them pause and allowed some breathing room for competitors; at least for the duration of the trial. Apple might be in a wildly different place today if it wasn't for the US government.

mmrtnt writes "That, would have been a 'killer app'."

No doubt. I remember when it was first announced without mention of any sort of DRM and I was seriously considering buy one. It would have been awesome. Especially if the ability to randomly exchange music with people in range was ever developed. Then the reality was made public and I was "Way to shot your device in its foot MS".
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> What was fun, when Zune was young,

Yesterday
when Zune was young
the tracks upon her playlist
watied to be sung

So many wild squirtings
she showered there on me
I came to know the love
that flowed from MP3
posted by mmrtnt at 7:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck you, Microsoft. Fuck you, Steve Ballmer. I don't want your stupid phone. What I want is (was) a dedicated media player. You clueless fuckwits in Redmond have managed to strangle almost all of the innovative products and ideas that came out of the Games & Devices division in the past. You have pushed out all the forward thinking talent in your company, all because some aging VP of Living Fossil Software Division feels threatened by the changing business landscape.

I love my 120 GB Zune & my Zunepass subscription. I now ive in fear of the day when my player will die. Guess Ms won't be getting my $15 bucks a month after that.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Zune, Kin, Courier, MSN Music, MSNBC, Live Search Books, Live Search Academic, MS Money, etc... etc... Basically if it's not Office or OS, expect to get screwed.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect the biggested limiting factor on Zune squirting was not DRM but the low density of Zunes out there - making it an idea that didn't really work outside of the Microsoft Campus.
posted by Artw at 7:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> This is Microsoft, the company with the gigantic bullseye painted on it with lawyer attractant paint since the early 90s?

I get your point. Microsoft is also not the company that would take a stand for consumers and say,

"Enough! We're going to make devices people want to use and the record labels can just suck it!

"No one sues Smith&Wesson or Ford for what people do with their products!"
posted by mmrtnt at 7:11 PM on March 14, 2011


Apple just released a music player that let people play music files they already had without any trouble.

Er, my Zune does just that. It does it better than the iPod. Also I don't have to dick around with iTunes, which by itself is worth the money because I hate iTunes JUST THAT MUCH. No .aaf or whatever weird files Apple uses! Just glorious mp3s! And the ZunePass is a piddling chunk of change for the all-access music pass everybody always said they wanted.

Everybody mocking the Zune is everybody who doesn't realize how shit the iPod really is once you get past the "well a monkey can use it" factor.
posted by mightygodking at 7:11 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm reading this thread on an iPod. That makes me laugh.

Yeah, the wireless sharing sounded awesome, until the crappy limits were known. Lots of people thought the iPod would't succeed or would be dethroned. Ah, memories.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2011


So what is a good cheap MP3 player with lots of space? I'm an iPod/iPhone guy but there's gotta be something cheaper
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2011


"Because the Zune had the most bloated piece of shit software ever created by man or beast"

I didn't know Zune used iTunes for Windows. What a POS that is. Ugh. Too bad about Zune, the HD was a nice piece of hardware. I have an iPod Touch I use for podcasts and games but for strictly music I use a Sansa Clip or a Creative Zen. I can't say enough good things about the Clip, tiny, inexpensive, awesome sound, nice display, drag and drop media transfer, voice recorder, FM tuner etc.... It's everything the iPod Shuffle should have been.
posted by MikeMc at 7:13 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> ThisSansa Clip is just $28

Curses!

I paid $49 for mine at Target a year or so ago.

I knew I should have waited.
posted by mmrtnt at 7:15 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


mightygodking: "No .aaf or whatever weird files Apple uses! Just glorious mp3s!"

Uh, iTunes and the iPod have always handled MP3 files just fine.
posted by mkb at 7:16 PM on March 14, 2011 [8 favorites]




Yeah, read this post on my wife's iPad. The irony. It was enjoyable.
posted by valkane at 7:17 PM on March 14, 2011


Wow, the iPod came out in 2001, the Zune in 2006. Why did it take Microsoft so long?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes! Competition eliminated! Always good news for the consumer.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:30 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, the iPod came out in 2001, the Zune in 2006. Why did it take Microsoft so long?

In 2001, Microsoft was still trying to kill Sun computers by corrupting Java.

The whole portable MP3 player thing was just another one of those wacky fads like video games and search engines.
posted by mmrtnt at 7:30 PM on March 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


It wasn't an iPod and I am a contrarian bastard. Lord help me if joy and contentment ever become popular.

Metafilter: Lord help me if joy and contentment ever become popular.
posted by spoobnooble at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The world is an oyster bed. Buy my pearl.
It's pretty.

I has riches?
posted by yesster at 7:38 PM on March 14, 2011


Well yeah I am reading on an Ipad as well. The IPad is a success more for what it lacks then for what it has. There have been "tablets" running various forms of windows for years now, they always seem like an attempt to shoehorn a desktop into a smaller form factor and add touch and handwriting recognition. The Ipad tries to do absolutely nothing besides being a bigger IPod, and for that it succeeds massively.

It is not such a big deal that they tried, and some would say failed. They can't just cede entire market segments to Apple in the same way that Google can't cede entire segments to Facebook and I think they gained something from this exercise. They produced an OS and a UI for a consumer electronic. They are no longer trying to shove a cut down version of windows into a phone, complete with start button and desktop. I think they may be on the right track with Windows Phone 7.

In 2001, Microsoft was still trying to kill Sun computers by corrupting Java.

Well that is up for debate. I am no J++ developer but some would argue that Microsoft producing an IDE, UI libraries that were consistent with the Windows look and feel and adding delegates would have helped Java on Windows at the expense of Java on the Unix desktop. But would have saved Java from what some perceive as an Enterprise server ghetto.

As it is Sun did a pretty good job of killing themselves without Microsoft.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:43 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you even type Ipad on an iPad?
posted by defenestration at 7:44 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Then as details emerged my impression changed. The rub came when it turned out that you could only interact wirelessly with other Zunes

Did people really think the Zune was going to be able to somehow magically interface with other music players and write data to their HDDs that would be seamlessly recognized and integrated by the other player?

It's an mp3 player, not a sonic screwdriver...
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:46 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes. iPad.
posted by valkane at 7:46 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Watching Microsoft's crappy empire of bloat and mediocrity fall apart in slow motion is kind of fun.
posted by namasaya at 7:47 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow , it does come out as iPad if I don't Make the I capital. Never noticed that
posted by Ad hominem at 7:47 PM on March 14, 2011


Watching Microsoft's crappy empire of bloat and mediocrity fall apart in slow motion is kind of fun.

I'll let you know when I am running OS X or ubuntu, at the office. Apple better get to work on something like Active Directory if they ever want that to happen.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:49 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


MS needs to stick to enterprise and just attempt doing that right. They don't know how to design consumer products, be it software or hardware (the XBox excluded, though that's subjective). Windows, and by default its office suite, are what keeps MS afloat -- and they dread knowing that the days of monolithic OSs on big beige boxes are coming to an abrupt end. And once again, they missed the boat by either starting their photocopiers too late or failing to innovate before the other guys.

They should be working on an iPad / Droid version of MS Office right now. With a bluetooth keyboard and iWorks the iPad has a very capable office suite. I have some solace knowing that if my MacBook should be out of commission temporarily that I can fall back on my iPad for work.
posted by haroon at 7:50 PM on March 14, 2011


Well that is up for debate.

What I was trying to point out is that Microsoft always seems to be fighting a rival from the past when they come out with something.

While they were busy trying to kill Netscape, the internet happened. While they were violating licensing agreements with Sun (for whatever purpose) the iPod came out.

By the time they hit the market with Zune, people started playing music on their phones.

If it weren't for their war chest and the "Microsoft Tax" on 90% of the desktop and laptop computers sold in the US, they would be an entirely different company by now.

Different, as in partitioned, sold off, humbled even.

Feh.

What the hell are you kids doing on my lawn, anyway?
posted by mmrtnt at 7:52 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you even type Ipad on an iPad?
You dont want to.
posted by shothotbot at 7:54 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]




By choosing to not support ogg vorbis, Microsoft designed the Zune to fail.
posted by milkrate at 7:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Can you even type Ipad on an iPad?
You dont want to.


Why not? It was as easy as pie.

Now, the copy and paste.... that was a pain in the ass.
posted by valkane at 7:57 PM on March 14, 2011


They should be working on an iPad / Droid version of MS Office right now

They need to get office live working on the iPad, I just tried it and I can view my spreadsheets but just about nothing else.

What I was trying to point out is that Microsoft always seems to be fighting a rival from the past when they come out with something.

That I agree with, obviously if I knew what their next move should be I would do it myself But they should probably stop screwing around with bing and come up with something like the Facebook Like since the like button is going to make algorithmic search irrelevant.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:58 PM on March 14, 2011


By choosing to not support ogg vorbis, Microsoft designed the Zune to fail.

I know Ogg is beloved of free-software nerds everywhere, or used to be, but I'm pretty sure a lack of Ogg support never doomed anything to failure.
posted by killdevil at 7:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


"Can you even type Ipad on an iPad?'

If you try it, Steve Jobs will show up at your door and slap you in the face.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Awesome. This makes the Zune swag-hoodie I found on the street way cooler because now it's promoting a product that doesn't exist anymore. Also it was free twice over.
posted by fuq at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2011


By choosing to not support ogg vorbis, Microsoft designed the Zune to fail.

That's a joke, right?

I have 3 computers at home running Linux (one is my entire home entertainment center - TV, movies, music, radio) and even I don't use Ogg.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you try it, Steve Jobs will show up at your door and slap you in the face.

I heard he shows up in a puff of smoke and flashes your iPad firmware to Zune-emulation mode.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's the part I like: concentrate on putting zune software on mobile phones.

Probably Nokia's. Amirite?

Heh.
posted by valkane at 8:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


> they should probably stop screwing around with bing and come up with something like the Facebook Like

The idea that a company that has risen to prominence on the back of deceit and betrayal will somehow develop something truly innovative is quite a stretch.

But who knows? With all their money, maybe someday they'll hire someone with a clue and then get out of the way.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:09 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


since the like button is going to make algorithmic search irrelevant.

What do you mean by this?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:11 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: "I'll let you know when I am running OS X or ubuntu, at the office. Apple better get to work on something like Active Directory if they ever want that to happen."

My office is actually at least 3/4 Ubuntu and MacOS but we still have an IT infrastructure based on AD and Exchange. The Apples do have MS Office so they can use a native calendar but us Ubuntu users are SOL. I end up having to use the crappy PonyExpress web version of Outlook that looks like Hotmail from 1997. Of course management all use Windows so they don't see any problems. I loved it a few years ago when upper management kept sending out docx files that not a single engineer could actually read.
posted by octothorpe at 8:12 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


MS needs to stick to enterprise and just attempt doing that right.

Just two problems with this plan:

1. The next time MS does enterprise right will be the first time.
2. Tech history is littered with companies who did enterprise right while ignoring the improving cheap consumer junk of their competitors... until the improvements were far too compelling and it was far too late.

MS probably doesn't believe in problem 1, but they're certain not to overlook problem 2; they've seen it too often from the opposite side.
posted by roystgnr at 8:12 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


geoff.: "if an upstart portable music company could force Apple to open up their standards."

I think that's why Apple bought out Lala. Music that was 10 cents cheaper and DRM-free.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:14 PM on March 14, 2011


But who knows? With all their money, maybe someday they'll hire someone with a clue and then get out of the way.

I loved it a few years ago when upper management kept sending out docx files that not a single engineer could actually read.

First of all, it'll never happen and second of all, that's the way it is. Left brain/right brain. Republican, Democrat.

I hate to get all political but, beauty is truth, and liars make money. And then they crash and burn.

Microsoft playing catch-up? You bet. All they've ever done is leverage their business cred.

Apple becoming all closed-garden and trying to be a monopoly? Yep, Steve Jobs ain't one to miss a stitch.

Human nature. It ain't pretty.
posted by valkane at 8:17 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody mocking the Zune is everybody who doesn't realize how shit the iPod really is once you get past the "well a monkey can use it" factor.
posted by mightygodking


Exactly, it's just marketing and a lifestyle choice bought into by fanboys and the Zune was so much better than the iPod anyway, blah blah blah amirite?

It's amazing this load of crap is still trotted out in 2011. Keep fighting the good fight.
posted by justgary at 8:21 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


What do you mean by this?

A link to a page can be seen as an implicit "like". I liked, or cared enough about this content to link to the page. We have seen this can be gamed, in fact there is an entire industry devoted to gaming it. The explicit like, along with Facebook identities will go a long way to fixing this. If I want to look up a camera review I will look at the reviews liked by the most people, it is the wisdom of crowds.

I know what you will say, what about the 99% of the web that nobody will ever visit, or like. Well who cares, is anyone searching for that?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:23 PM on March 14, 2011


Plays For Sure!
posted by Ratio at 8:23 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Welcome to the social. Okay, social's over. Get out.
posted by brownpau at 8:32 PM on March 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Zune should have come out by 2003-2004. 2006 was when Apple was seeing that cellphone makers were adding features to get into the portable music/media player market, and after they had already worked with Motorola to bring out an iTunes phone.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:35 PM on March 14, 2011


We have seen this can be gamed, in fact there is an entire industry devoted to gaming it. The explicit like, along with Facebook identities will go a long way to fixing this.

The advantage pagerank has over voting is that no one entity controls the voting machine. If you recall why it was that Google was so much better than Yahoo, you'll see why that might be important.
posted by pwnguin at 8:36 PM on March 14, 2011


I wrote this up as well, and my sentiments were much the same: Zune HD is a great player, the Zune subscription service is actually quite nice, but as I put it, Microsoft never found a gun for this bullet.

RIP Zune! You'll be missed, at least after my Zune HD wears out, in like 10 years.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:43 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I feel quite lucky that I am, apparently, the only person on God's green earth who can get through an entire day without constantly listening to things in my earholes. I derive simple stoic pleasure from ignoring things happening around me the natural way: by being rude. Yes I understand that you only want money for "food" and I'm not going to pretend not to notice you, it's just that I am not interested.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:43 PM on March 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


The advantage pagerank has over voting is that no one entity controls the voting machine

Google counts the votes, we have seen that google can change the algorithm at will, blacklist sites, hell even google has lost faith in page rank and now allows users to hide sites.

If you recall why it was that Google was so much better than Yahoo

Yahoo couldn't leverage millions of people voting. Pagerank could simulate millions of votes.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:47 PM on March 14, 2011


I think I mentioned this before on Metafilter, but I got a Zune from woot. I assumed, like every other 2nd fiddle music player on the planet, that it would work as a USB drive so I wouldn't have to fiddle around. But it didn't. Worse, it required software that only runs on Windows.

I have a Mac.

That minor, annoying experience guaranteed I wouldn't be in line for Microsoft's next phone / handheld shoulder massager / whatever. Locking consumer handhelds to compatibility with only one OS (whether Windows or Mac), is a bad idea.

and the Zune is locked down hardware. No easy flashing of improved firmware, nor much of a community to care about trying.
posted by zippy at 8:52 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gone too zune.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:54 PM on March 14, 2011


The Zune music software is actually pretty awesome. I recommend anyone (especially anyone who hates itunes) to give it a try. It's really great for managing podcasts as well. I don't understand why it hasn't replaced WMP.

If I could figure out a way to cut out itunes and load my iphone from the Zune player itself, I would be a happy man...
posted by stratastar at 8:57 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, the zunemanity!
posted by mmrtnt at 8:59 PM on March 14, 2011


Zune in tommorrow?!
posted by stratastar at 9:00 PM on March 14, 2011


Yes! Competition eliminated! Always good news for the consumer.
There is plenty of competition. The problem is there's so much competition there's no money in it any more. An Mp3 player today probably only costs a tiny bit more to make then a USB memory stick, and is about the same price.
They should be working on an iPad / Droid version of MS Office right now.
That would mean giving apple 30% of all the sales of office. I don't see that happening. At all.
A link to a page can be seen as an implicit "like". I liked, or cared enough about this content to link to the page. We have seen this can be gamed, in fact there is an entire industry devoted to gaming it. The explicit like, along with Facebook identities will go a long way to fixing this. If I want to look up a camera review I will look at the reviews liked by the most people, it is the wisdom of crowds.
First of all, I wasn't even aware you could do that. Secondly there isn't really any such thing as a 'facebook identity'. You can sign up for as many fake accounts as you want. And thirdly, what does this have to do with Microsoft?

Also, Microsoft owns a chunk of facebook, 1.6%. So whatever is good for facebook is good for Microsoft. They can probably get access to the like data for bing if they want.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on March 14, 2011


They can probably get access to the like data for bing if they want.

One of these data. Bing to the zune, Alice!
posted by mmrtnt at 9:07 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes! Competition eliminated! Always good news for the consumer.

On the secret Apple list of things to worry about, "Zune's sales and marketshare" probably ranked somewhere between "Time-travelling caveman causes awkward incident in Berlin Apple Store" and "God adds extra digit between 1 and 0 as prank."
posted by No-sword at 9:26 PM on March 14, 2011 [27 favorites]


I wish the Zune hadn't failed so badly. My friends who had it seemed to really like the UI, and the software. I would have bought one instead of my current iPod if Microsoft hadn't killed the 120GB Zune in favor of the Zune HD, which was out of my price range.

I'm aware of some of the other players of this size that are out there, but somewhat skeptical of their user interfaces.
posted by !Jim at 10:04 PM on March 14, 2011


@ stratastar: Yeah, the Zune software is pretty much amazing, and the thing I love the most about it is its Podcast manager. As to why it hasn't replaced WMP, I think it has to do with the fact that the Zune and its software came out of the Games & Devices division, who (it seems), the other divisions of MS hated with a passion and felt threatened by. The Windows Phone team did everything in their power to thwart and hamstring the Zune team's attempts to make a phone (just look at the hash that MS made of the Kin by putting-- that was supposed to be the Zune Phone!) and I suspect that the WMP team made sure that their jobs would continue by insisting that it be part of the MS bloatware in Windows, effectively freezing out the Zune software from any users who didn't already own a Zune.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:13 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


mmrtnt: " They can probably get access to the like data for bing if they want.

One of these data. Bing to the zune, Alice
"

oh god please stop
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:16 PM on March 14, 2011


If you try it, Steve Jobs will show up at your door and slap you in the face.

Best. iOS. Feature. Evar.
posted by weston at 10:21 PM on March 14, 2011


Yes! Competition eliminated! Always good news for the consumer.

Well, let's be fair, the Zune was always more like a sympathy vote at junior prom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The iPod came out two months after Windows XP was launched in 2001. The iPhone was announced two months after the Zune was launched in Nov 2006. The iPad came out a month after Windows Phone 7 was announced in 2010. At the going rate Microsoft should announce an iPad competitor in 2015, two months before Apple launches the iMedulla Oblongata.
posted by furtive at 10:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is plenty of competition.

Controlling 90% of the market is not my general idea of "competition". So yeah, that problem you mentioned? Not the real problem.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:45 PM on March 14, 2011


Java

I actually found this /r/programming thread pretty interesting on that subject, and relativly light on pr/anti M$ GRAR, it that corner of Reddit being a place where people tend to actual relativly adult fashion for the internets.
posted by Artw at 10:50 PM on March 14, 2011


Instead of creating Windows Phone 7, they should have integrated the WinMo platform with Zune, creating a Zune phone: the Microsoft Zone.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:06 PM on March 14, 2011


MSFT up a penny on the news.

At first Microsoft tried to compete with the iPod and iTunes by being "Microsoft". That is, create a platform (Windows Media Player) and license it to various manufacturers. That didn't work, so they threw the Microsoft approach out the, ahem, window and created the Zune.

I thought it wasn't a bad idea, in theory. But the end result was not.

What I found so strange about the Zune was Microsoft's extreme, almost pathological effort to copy the iPod and iTunes ecosystem. I mean, right down the to "Hello from Seattle" on the back. Even when it made no sense. Did they really need to write whole new Zune desktop software? And that "squircle" was ridiculous. Who were they trying to fool?

So while the Zune team was busy trying to copy what Apple was doing (even when they didn't quite understand what Apple was doing), Apple was busy innovating. The end result was absolutely comedic, if not tragic timing from Microsoft in relation to what Apple was producing with the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iOS.

$100 Million in product development and marketing, and 5 years later "Zune" is nothing but the punchline to a joke in a sitcom. Meanwhile, the iPod has grown to become this absolutely immense ecosystem to include the iPhone, iPad, iOS, iTunes, Apple TV, and Airplay. It's a music geek's wet dream.

At least Microsoft can leverage their Zune music software with their next current mobile platform, Windows Phone 7. It's one advantage they'll have when trying to compete with Android.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 11:16 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


dumbland: "I'm an Australian. I live in Australia. Did this ever end up coming out down here?"

Not afaik. They're not totally unknown though; I see maybe one or two a month during my daily commute. A friend bought one (yes, a brown 1st gen) when travelling in the US, but here it's about as useful as any other no-name MP3 player - no integrated store (without a US CC), so you're stuck with downloading music separately and adding it manually.

"Microsoft will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones."

Errr… WTF?! Does WP7 not already have complete Zune functionality? Or is this just Microsoft's roundabout way of saying that existing Zunes will miss out on future enhancements? If the former, then wow - I understand there would have been internal politics involved, but that's right up there with "fighting a land war in Asia"…

What can't be denied, though, is that they made a helluva lot of mistakes with the thing. People may have criticised the first iPod for being an average-featured music player, but it wasn't the butt of jokes before it was released (Brown? 'Squirting'? C'mon, that's just asking for it…). Similarly, it didn't take Apple more than a couple of years to roll out a Windows version of iTunes or extend the iTunes store pretty much world-wide. Microsoft tried to match them by starting where Apple had been 12 months earlier - then tried to catch up by not moving at all.

And now MS's plan is to catch up by … doing what? Leveraging multi-platform (PC - phone - console)? Apple - really, currently their only competitor - at this stage seems to be content being a slowly-growing niche player in the first, is years ahead in the second, doesn't even play in the third, is slowly building its own fourth (AppleTV), and rocketing ahead in a fifth platform (tablets).

It doesn't make sense.

At this stage, if you really hated Apple and had to choose between them and Microsoft for your digital lifestyle needs, you'd have to be putting your money on Android…
posted by Pinback at 11:20 PM on March 14, 2011


I think that's why Apple bought out Lala. Music that was 10 cents cheaper and DRM-free.

Apple hasn't sold music with DRM since 2009. Just sayin'
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, Zune. My stepsons were very excited about it when it was announced. They were Apple haters at the time, die hard because their biodad was way into Windows and derided them. As the stepdad with a Linux machine, a Mac laptop, and a Win XP machine at the time, I was somewhat suspect. I try to be "whatever you can do to get your work done, more power to you!"

They were most excited because the promise and hype of Zune was "I will be able to wirelessly get music! I will be able to give music to my friends and get music and this music player will make way more sense than iPod where you have to mess around with iTunes."

That promise, at the time, and still now, is just so sad. It *does* make perfect sense that we should be able to simply share music back and forth. You like that song? I have it! Here have a listen! But that is absolutely not the way licensed music works in the US (let alone elsewhere) and a mainstream product that could do that *could not* exist. I said as much to them: it cannot have that feature you have read about. There will be a crippling of the file with DRM, or it will be an excerpt with an option to buy, or some other scheme, because copying music is OMG illegal. I did allow, that if Microsoft somehow pulled a rabbit out of the hat and made a deal with the record companies somehow to feed back data, or push down ads, or *something* there might be a way it could work, but I basically pooh-poohed it. They didn't believe me, Microsoft would find a way and, hey, it will be wireless and have copying, so you will HAVE to be able to share music. How could it not work?

I didn't kill their dreams of mobile music sharing nirvana--I let the product itself do that.

My middle boy actually got a Zune (age 14 at the time IIRC), and he did have it synced to one of our machines. Man, the Zune software was way worse than iTunes (at least for the first year) on Windows. Slow and confusing. He has now been through a few iPods in the intervening years, and now he's got a nice Android phone that plays music.

For my own use, I went through a Shuffle, and later got an iPod Classic, works wonderfully. I considered a Zune but lack of reliable software for Mac or Linux made it a nonstarter. I've inherited an iPod Touch but I find the interface overblown for playing music and podcasts. I think single-use is better for music. The alternative devices mentioned above (like the Clip) sound interesting, if/when my Classic blows up I may take a look at that product. But really the iTunes "process" still makes good sense to me in terms of syncing my huge music and rotating podcast library so I have little reason to switch. If Apple discontinues iPod Classics, I may be pushed that way, though it's hard to see them doing that. If they did I'd probably buy a backup Classic, mine's worked great since 2007 and it's hard to see them killing support for them now.
posted by artlung at 12:03 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I feel quite lucky that I am, apparently, the only person on God's green earth who can get through an entire day without constantly listening to things in my earholes.

I have a radio in my car which I have never turned on. I owned a knock-off sony walkman in high school which didn't get much use. An audio equipment which is meant for ears-only and portable immediately gets passed to my bride. So you're not alone.
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on March 15, 2011


They came out in a market where Apple had 85% market share and the market for standalone players was starting to shrink (-4% in 2006). Even if they'd had a vastly superior product, that would have been it. Add to that their turf war between Zune and windows mobile closing off access to the smartphone segment and you can see how futile it was.

Personally, I've got a Sansa player that takes SD cards, and I never use it because I'm almost always near a computer or smartphone with last.fm or pandora or NPR streaming. Frankly I can't imagine wasting my time managing my MP3 library, tagging it, and backing it up. I suppose there's some database of tags out there that you can access, but I still don't want to waste time moving files around and coming up with playlists.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 AM on March 15, 2011


My mama says the iMedulla Oblongata is the Devil!
posted by arcticseal at 1:18 AM on March 15, 2011


I have a Zune, and I dig it. I can transfer my video files (without proprietary software that makes my computer cry) hook it up to a projector with an rca cable and that's bitchin'.

I guess I don't care about the store or the social thingies or wireless sharing whatzitz. All I want is portable cartoon tiem. I don't think it's a replacement for a computer or a smartphone. I have those, they do what they do, the Zune does what it does. It was cheap for what it does, I like what it does, and I don't expect it to do things that it doesn't.

I guess you could say I am not an Apple person. I am not necessarily opposed. It's just my lot. I don't always want what they offer, and need more than they are willing to give.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:20 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I played with Zunes/Archos/Creative Devives, but bought a succession of iDevices for Mrs arcticseal. For a long while I was on the "I don't need an iPod" train and firmly in MS territory, but eventually gave in and am now on my second iPod. We have an iPad, I gave in and bought a MBA in Jan. We are now a fully Apple household apart from my work Dell. When my Nokia dies, I suspect I'll be getting an iPhone n.

MS lost the initiative and in doing so, lost my business.
posted by arcticseal at 1:35 AM on March 15, 2011


My dad really likes his Zune, he's got some huge amount of storage on it.

But I know that his was one of the ones that got bricked in some firmware upgrade bullshit a year or so back. I think he ultimately got it back working again, but he may have just bought another one. In any event, what always kept me from being interested was that you had to believe that MS was going to keep supporting it (at least their subscription music), otherwise the money you'd sunk was just gone.
posted by klangklangston at 1:39 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm now on winphone after previously having ipods, iPhones and an Android phone. MS have some distance to go to catch up, and I don't know if they will catch up, but the winphone with zunepass combination works well, and the UI is really simple to pick up. Zunepass is a great offering. Its only a matter of time before Apple copies it.
posted by seanyboy at 1:48 AM on March 15, 2011


This is your future, Nokia.

I'm always surprised by the hostile reaction to the irrelevancy of Nokia. It might not be doing what your $500 iPhone does, but Nokia popularised things like roaming and cheap mobile phones and was a great case of successful company-industry-country interaction, especially in the 90s.
posted by ersatz at 4:33 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


.

Ive had my 30 GB Zune for 4 years and its still going strong. Maybe I can get an HD or an 80 GB Zune for cheap now. I also hope they keep the Zune market place around for awhile. $15/month for unlimited songs and you get to keep 10 songs a month is what stopped me from downloading music illegally.
posted by lilkeith07 at 4:45 AM on March 15, 2011


My weblog gets hundreds and hundreds of spam comments for the the Zune. If this does nothing but decrease spam my life will still be much, much better.
posted by tommasz at 4:50 AM on March 15, 2011


Atrocity Exhibition.

I didn't need to see that.
*weeps*
posted by klausness at 5:50 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm always surprised by the hostile reaction to the irrelevancy of Nokia.

It's probably less hostility and more disappointment, watching an otherwise once-great company dig its way into the void of obsolescence with both hands.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:20 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Watching Microsoft's crappy empire of bloat and mediocrity fall apart in slow motion is kind of fun.

They still do have ~90% of the desktop/laptop OS market and a bigger share of the Office market so I'm not ready to cry for them yet. No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damnit, I love my Zune. The GUI is far superior to my pre-Touch iPod, and my 80GB Zune has had zero technical problems, unlike my last iPod which died 3 times in a year.
*cries in the corner*
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:51 AM on March 15, 2011


On the other hand, they never did give me Marketplace in Canada. Bastards.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:52 AM on March 15, 2011


namasaya: "Watching Microsoft's crappy empire of bloat and mediocrity fall apart in slow motion is kind of fun"

I would wail and gnash my teeth at this, but I have loads of games to play and so little time.
posted by Splunge at 6:56 AM on March 15, 2011


It's probably less hostility and more disappointment, watching an otherwise once-great company dig its way into the void of obsolescence with both hands.

They started shipping a lot of cheap junk phones all while they indirectly told (European) users that "we know better than you, we don't need to listen to you, our phones are as great as phones can be".

This created a large market for consumer quality smartphones that wasn't covered by Nokia and which they couldn't see (nor respect).
posted by flif at 7:29 AM on March 15, 2011


Yeah, the Nokia thing is disappointment for me. Had a succession of phones I loved, but Nokia lost their way. Current one I'm touting will be my last.
posted by arcticseal at 7:33 AM on March 15, 2011


On the secret Apple list of things to worry about, "Zune's sales and marketshare" probably ranked somewhere between "Time-travelling caveman causes awkward incident in Berlin Apple Store" and "God adds extra digit between 1 and 0 as prank."

Indeed. It would be like Microsoft and RedHat, IBM, HP, etc. giving a fuck about Apple in the server space and when Apple killed off the xServe we had an equal amount of little reaction as to the end of the Zune (which anecdotally I have never actually seen in the wild, not that I personally would get any music player. Never saw a rack with an xServe either). Neither was a big player in the respective spaces, though both had some fans, which is fine and it really is to bad for those who liked them and used them but sometimes diversity suffers. In both cases the software lives on and the innovative features in it.

As for Nokia, I think they'll be fine. I don't think they've had a "way" for quite some years and now they do. It remains to be seen.
posted by juiceCake at 7:49 AM on March 15, 2011


Its only a matter of time before Apple copies it

Apple has been selling music by the single file download for a decade now. They sell more music than even WalMart. Subscription music certainly has lots of fans and customers, but I think the market (consider also the Amazon MP3 store) has confirmed that people generally like to own their music.

I won't say that Apple will never do a subscription plan, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
posted by device55 at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2011


ZeusHumms: "The Zune should have come out by 2003-2004."

Yes. But other great players came out 2003-2004 and also got nowhere. Apple has such mindshare in the portable music space that it for all intents and purposes it *is* the Microsoft of that niche, and it's just difficult to compete against that no matter how crappy some of the players are (virtually impossible now with that particular niche shrinking yearly). And the volume of pure "classic" media players that Apple still shifts is quite amazing given it's obvious disdain for that platform and the lack of any future conceivable UI or feature improvements. For the last few years, Sansa and Cowon have basically consistently pwned everyone else's players, repeatedly and through whole series of Nokia-like iterations, while iRiver has brought out, every few years, amazingly well executed tiny players with sleek hardware and UI gems that often seem to be limited to SE Asia markets, yet whose innovations seem to end up in Apple Nanos or Touches a couple of years later. During all this time, Zune has kind of lumbered on in a very American multinational sense, with all the grace and market dynamics and flexibility of a brontosaurus. A very well muscled animal with tremendous potential energy and displacement, but never agile enough to survive long term.

Zune never had a chance. Apple's brought out some nice Ipods, but also some real duds. Yet they all pretty much sell quite well... even the real stinkers. The noughties are littered with some really good players and initiatives every couple of years that looked good on paper but ran up against the wall of Apple marketing and mindshare. During the years you mention, iRiver looked strong and the iRiver H1xx series was like an mp3 player beamed in from the future. But iRiver sold it at retail for a higher MRSP than the Ipod, and see how well that's going for the other high-end tablet makers lately? Then a bunch of makers, including but not limited to iRiver, jumped on the portable multimedia player (and in some cases, recorder) a couple of years before Apple. Again, first-mover/innovator advantage here doesn't really win as they like to tell you in the ideology because when a big, well-capitalised marketing gorilla like Apple muscles in your early advantage is swept away almost effortlessly. Early Zunes were pretty much dogs with some nice ideas finally mass available (points, subs, wireless transfer) and the later Zunes upped the hardware and UI ante, but by then you're basically renovating the Titanic's ballroom mid-journey, the iceberg's up ahead, and everyone else has moved on to airplanes.

Still, if Rockbox came out for Zune HD I'd get one tomorrow.
posted by meehawl at 8:18 AM on March 15, 2011


Apple has such mindshare in the portable music space that it for all intents and purposes it *is* the Microsoft of that niche,

I still remember the first iPod commercial, loved it. It summed up what the iPod was and how it would make your life better/more fun. Note that no feature specs are mentioned, other than 1,000 songs in your pocket. The appeal was instant. I remember thinking "Wait, there's about 10-15 songs per album, so that's 60-100 albums in a device smaller than a portable CD player!!! HOLY SHIT THE FUTURE IS HERE!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been looking for an HD receiver recently, and if the Zune came down to a fire-sale price, I might consider getting it and a dock just for that. Otherwise, no big loss.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on March 15, 2011


So long, Zune. You've been great comedic fodder and we'll miss you for that, if nothing else. MeFi is sending you out in style, with one more thread full of Microsoftie FUD. You'd have liked that, I think.

Thank God for Android, otherwise we might be suffering a critical shortage of lulz.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:14 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One more point about MS. Some things, like Silverlight and ASP.NET MVC seem to have quick iterations with alot of CTP releases and lots of blog posts by team members, stuff you would expect from a much smaller company. I think the things marketed towards developers and other niche markets have great freedom, maybe not many execs want to stick their fingers in the pie. Mass market products like the Zune and more recently WP7 seem to fossilize within MS. Any developers here who have worked on "flagship" products in any industry have seen that execs love to attach themselves to important projects. They like to stack the team with their favorite people and position themselves to get part of the accolades once the product ships. This is a serious problem as execs try to bend the project to their will. I think this is why we see so many products from microsoft that seem so ... unfocused.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm always surprised by the hostile reaction to the irrelevancy of Nokia.
It's probably less hostility and more disappointment.


That's what it is for me. I've used Nokia handsets for most of the time I've been using a cell phone. I've liked them. I'd happily buy them again. I've been waiting for them to come out with a real answer to the raised bar that the iPhone and some Android devices have presented. S60 phones were great five years ago but it doesn't cut it now. The N900 is great but, just like its also pretty cool predecessors, they never really got behind it.

Part of me wants to believe I'm wrong that Nokia is Doomed. But I'm pretty certain that even if the Windows Phone based models succeed, the market trends are going to mean that the best Nokia has to look forward to is relevancy comparable to IBM/Lenovo's in the PC market... or, potentially, when their market cap is even lower than it is now, new ownership by MS if they decide to emulate Apple's vertically-integrated mobile platform model.
posted by weston at 11:08 AM on March 15, 2011


If I didn't read tech blogs (or metafilter) I'm not sure that I'd even be aware that Nokia still exists. I haven't seen one of their phones in the real world for something like a decade. Mostly I remember them from The Matrix and haven't really thought about them since.
posted by octothorpe at 11:27 AM on March 15, 2011


My current phone is a Nokia. I bought it while in a third world country last summer, and I don't really expect it to last through this summer, and it defaults to that awful awful ringtone. But it gets the job done, I guess.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:40 AM on March 15, 2011


The tiny Zune players before the HD are really quite nice, and the subscription-based music service is basically Rhapsody.

That's the funniest thing about it all. Zunes, Sansas, Creative, whatever .. they're all better than the iPod.

"Microsoft will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones."

HAHAHAHAHA. I use Audiogalaxy, Songbird, and Last.fm (I get a free subscription). I'm open to all sorts of new music phone apps, but I can't imagine anyone using Zune on Android. (It seems even more laughable on iOS.) I suppose they are just doubling down on Windows Phone 7. OOPS.

ThisSansa Clip is just $28 and it has a Micro SDHC slot, which means you can put up to 32gb on it, and 8-16gb cards are really cheap these days. I have an older 2gb Sansa Fuse, with an 8gb card in it. I still haven't filled it up with music.

I really like the Sansas, but mine (or the ones I didn't smash) all tended to lose their screen display after a year or so. My latest one is like a stupid 8G iShuffle now. :(
posted by mrgrimm at 1:21 PM on March 15, 2011


I saw this in the HN discussion, the Zune HD 32 is currently clocking in at number 9 on the top MP3 players list (8th if you discount the Magic Mouse, which, while Magical isn't an MP# player). That isn't bad at all.

I think this is just part of the deal with Nokia. Microsoft kills the Zune and Nokia steps in with a WP7 phone/music device.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2011


Development Manager for Zune denies reports of Zune's death on anythingbutipod forums:
Dave McLauchlan, Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, stopped by our forums to give an official statement on the “Zune is dead” rumor that took the internet by storm. Here’s what he had to say…

...To be 100% clear – NO information about our future plans, no matter what the incarnation, has been shared. Until then treat with healthy skepticism anything you read. That’s probably a good general rule actually.

So for those who tweeted or emailed asking what I’m “going to do now” – I’ll be going to work tomorrow, working on Zune hardware bizdev. And when Microsoft announces news that is actually news, you’ll hear it from us directly, and I’ll be sure to pass it on immediately. Only then should you take it as gospel.

Cheers, Dave.

posted by nooneyouknow at 2:04 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I don't want to go on the cart!"
posted by entropicamericana at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mumble mumble Generalissimo Francisco Franco mumble mumble...
posted by Kinbote at 3:28 PM on March 15, 2011


"Microsoft will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones."

Thanks for the warning.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:11 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hell would be a creative/ visionary person who worked at Microsoft. So much potential. so many ways to get stabbed in the back by your "coworkers" and management. I mean these kinds of backroom shenannigans between departments are tolerated as long as the company has free money; but when that passes...

Anyways, this article is old but has has anyone managed to setup their iOS device to work with Zunepass?
posted by stratastar at 6:21 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody mocking the Zune is everybody who doesn't realize how shit the iPod really is once you get past the "well a monkey can use it" factor.

I have an iPod classic that I fill using CopyTrans to get around the myriad iTunes issues. The only quirk is the old-fashioned hard drive which requires a bit more care than flash drives, but it holds everything, including quite a few albums on WAV rather than MP3. I use it every day and have for the last couple years. Would not want to give it up and will probably buy a backup sometime this year.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:19 AM on March 16, 2011


krinklyfig, your experience is meaningless cuz iPods are just for dummies and they actually suck really bad even though everyone has them and the only people I hear complaining about them are people that don't, you know?
posted by defenestration at 11:33 AM on March 16, 2011


Note: competition is good. And the newer Zunes had some cool UI ideas thrown in there. I wish a company that wasn't so well-known for bumbling their new products was behind it — it could have been something.
posted by defenestration at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2011


krinklyfig, your experience is meaningless cuz iPods are just for dummies and they actually suck really bad even though everyone has them and the only people I hear complaining about them are people that don't, you know?

So like Windows?
posted by juiceCake at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2011


People who don't use Windows talk about it? Sounds tedious.
posted by defenestration at 12:48 PM on March 16, 2011


10 years of the iPod - Interestingly points out that non-Touch iPods haven't seen much update love lately either.
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: 10 years of the iPod

Now, in 2011, Apple is set to become the world's most valuable company full stop, overtaking the current leader, oil multinational ExxonMobil.

That's sort of amazing to me. In the 21th century, when most of us can download any content we want for free, the iTunes Store has created the most valuable company in the world. !!

"It was the first MP3 player that really worked. With the earlier ones you had to get down on your knees and pray to get a bit of music out of them"

Nah, it really wasn't. It was a slightly better than usual MP3 player, nothing more. It was the iTunes Store that prompted Apple's ascension into the consumer stratosphere.

I still have trouble believing it, but the music industry was so desperate for any solution that worked, I shouldn't be.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2011


mrgrimm writes "That's sort of amazing to me. In the 21th century, when most of us can download any content we want for free, the iTunes Store has created the most valuable company in the world. !!"

Validation of the "make it cheap and easy and people won't pirate (enough to hurt sales)" rhetoric.

mrgrimm writes "but the music industry was so desperate for any solution that worked"

Apple had to drag the music industry into iTunes store participation kicking and screaming and then even had to baby step it with AAC and DRM.
posted by Mitheral at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2011


> non-Touch iPods haven't seen much update love lately either.

The iPod Classic is arguably feature-complete and mature; there's not much to do to it except increase disk capacity or battery life.

If you prefer a product with more interactivity or broader functionality, Apple will sell you a Touch or iPhone. If the only feature that matters to you is size or weight, there's the Nano and Shuffle.

The Classic continues to have a following, probably large enough for Apple to justify continuing the product even if it'll never set sales records again. People use them as portable high-volume music libraries - 120 GB is good for a few hundred albums at lossless quality, many times as much music with lossy compression. It's also drawn its share of software hacks (ranging from the ability to mount it as a system storage device to installing alternate OSes) and hardware hacks (anything from adding bigger drives to bridging the headphone amp for an audiophile-approved signal).
posted by ardgedee at 4:28 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]




The iPod Classic is arguably feature-complete and mature

That seems ridiculous to me. There are jillions of ways to improve it as a pure, storage-heavy MP3 player, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2011


I think the Rockbox developers make some fairly convincing arguments along those lines.
posted by box at 11:43 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Amazon service looks neat, but I have a hard time seeing as anything but a not-very-good Dropbox competitor. The streaming aspect and the forever backup of newly purchased Amazon MP3s are great though.

I do love and use s3, and Amazon entering this space is good. I would love to see this pushing Apple to make a subset of their .mac services free.

mrgrimm, you may find the claim ridiculous, but I hope you can appreciate that not everyone agrees with you. My iPod works very well for me. Reading about Rockbox, there is nothing they have to offer that is of use to me. I think few people see the something like an iPod Classic needing huge amounts of new features. The rockbox themes do not make me want to look further at doing whatever hackery is required to "improve" my iPod.
posted by artlung at 1:07 PM on March 29, 2011


artlung, just because you can't think of any new features that you would use doesn't mean that lots of users can't.

there's a million things alone you could do with playlist creation and file management.

how about a "Karaoke" button that automatically removed the vocals from any song? just plug it into any stereo for an automatic karaoke party. I'd take that.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on March 29, 2011


Mitheral: "
Apple had to drag the music industry into iTunes store participation kicking and screaming and then even had to baby step it with AAC and DRM.
"

And given how Apple is now Bigger Than Jesus while the labels all got bought up by conglomerates (... and Citibank), their feet dragging may have been justified in retrospect.
posted by pwnguin at 2:09 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you really believe Apple is responsible for the labels selling their shriveled souls to conglomerates, you're pretty ignorant of the history of the labels.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:18 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"artlung, just because you can't think of any new features that you would use doesn't mean that lots of users can't."

Where do those users go now? zune failed to fill that niche. who does?

re: automatic karaoke party and automatically removing vocals from a song, does that exist in something now? For karaoke: going out for drinks is cool. My family always liked SingStar or Rock Band on the PlayStation.

The impression you give in your rhetoric is a *huge* base of unhappy, underserved iPod users, but your examples give me the impression it's a vocal but small set of niche users. Maybe that's not your intent, but that's what I'm reading. Based on your examples, I'll second the contention that iPods are mature and largely feature-complete.
posted by artlung at 3:32 PM on March 29, 2011


Yup, TBH it seems like an area that nobody, not Apple and (per the OP once parsed into reality) not Microsoft really wants to invest much time expanding.

It's all phones and phone-like things now: Cowon D3 Plenue Android PMP
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on March 29, 2011


Artw -- wow, that Cowon looks like a truly wonderfully engineered piece of hardware, hobbled utterly by poorly thought out user experience and operating system. The inclusion of Android and the ability to install apps is a neat feature, if it works, it would make it a nice competitor to the iPod Touch, as it is, it sounds like the process of actually installing anything would be painful for the tech savvy, and impossible for most people. If the Cowon is representative of the "PMP" (personal music player, I don't remember that acronym) space, I don't see mrgrimm getting his wishlist fulfilled anytime soon.
posted by artlung at 6:36 PM on March 29, 2011


Oh, and the Cowon isn't even inexpensive!
posted by artlung at 6:36 PM on March 29, 2011


a truly wonderfully engineered piece of hardware, hobbled utterly by poorly thought out user experience and operating system

Yup. It used to be iRiver in that slot, but it's Cowon these days.
posted by box at 7:27 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


entropicamericana: "If you really believe Apple is responsible for the labels selling their shriveled souls to conglomerates, you're pretty ignorant of the history of the labels."

Well, I was going to cite dwindling profits and market caps, but as I discovered by browsing Wikipedia, the buyouts make that impossible to cite. Point is, if your business partner becomes the worlds largest company in the world, you have to imagine you could have bargained harder.
posted by pwnguin at 2:48 PM on March 31, 2011


artlung: ""I'll second the contention that iPods are mature and largely feature-complete"

Yeah, just like after winning that war, MS decided back in the early noughts that internet browsing was basically finished and IE6 was the pinnacle of achievement there and needed no further improvement. How did that work out?

Ipods may be mature and feature-complete, but the devotional and highly personal activity of portble audio/video collection, mixing and consumption is still evolving. There's a lot of, as you term it, "niche" developers, users, and initiatives. The funny thing about tech and "niches" is how fast one that gets the right note can go viral. Miss that wave, and suddenly what looked "mature and feature-complete" can suddenly seem as antiquated as, say, the Minidisc, or DAT.

mrgrimm: "That's sort of amazing to me. In the 21th century, when most of us can download any content we want for free, the iTunes Store has created the most valuable company in the world."

It's difficult to actually quantify how crucial the Itunes Store is for sales of Ipods. Wikipedia tells me that 297,000,000 Ipods have been sold, and that the Itunes Store licenced its 10 billionth download in 2010-02, with its 8.5 billionth download in 2009-09. Let's say there's... 12 billion downloads licenced now. That's 40 tunes/Ipod, assuming all Ipods sold are still in use (quite a generous assumption). 40 tunes is not really a driver for much of anything. Even if half the Ipods sold are effectively dead, that's 80 tunes/Ipod. Still not really a massive influencer. Many people seem to keep their Ipods somewhere around 70% full. They're not full of Itunes downloads - they're full of CD rips, stream rips and Other People's Music. Apple may have abandoned its old "Rip Mix Burn" tagline, but plain old piracy and person-to-person music sharing is what drives Ipod sales, and was the early reason for Apple's media success.
posted by meehawl at 5:30 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zune email
posted by Artw at 6:53 PM on April 2, 2011


Yeah, just like after winning that war, MS decided back in the early noughts that internet browsing was basically finished and IE6 was the pinnacle of achievement there and needed no further improvement. How did that work out?

Is the retail market for a virtual good (web browser) with basically 4 solid entrants, none of which charge money to be acquired and nstalled a good analogy in terms of market and competitiveness for a real, tangible good that costs between $20-$600?

And is Apple really not doing anything in this space? I would argue that they continue to, but as was said earlier in the thread, the focus they have is on Apps, and they make incremental changes to the iPod/iTunes ecosystem. Clearly some of you HATE the experience of using an iPod, but I am dumbfounded at what seems like anger that the product does not do all you wish it would do.

Ipods may be mature and feature-complete, but the devotional and highly personal activity of portble audio/video collection, mixing and consumption is still evolving.

Absolutely.

There's a lot of, as you term it, "niche" developers, users, and initiatives. The funny thing about tech and "niches" is how fast one that gets the right note can go viral. Miss that wave, and suddenly what looked "mature and feature-complete" can suddenly seem as antiquated as, say, the Minidisc, or DAT.

I will believe it when I see it. If the demand out there is burning up, then someone will make a go of it as a new PMP player. Surveying the market, that has not happened, people are starting to use phones now, perhaps people will put their music in the cloud and then access it like your personal Pandora. There is certainly a case to characterize Apple as "laying back" in terms of iPods, but I don't see it that way. I think the "iPod" PMP category is, like was said, mature.
posted by artlung at 8:22 AM on April 4, 2011


meehawl writes "It's difficult to actually quantify how crucial the Itunes Store is for sales of Ipods. Wikipedia tells me that 297,000,000 Ipods have been sold, and that the Itunes Store licenced its 10 billionth download in 2010-02, with its 8.5 billionth download in 2009-09. Let's say there's... 12 billion downloads licenced now. That's 40 tunes/Ipod, assuming all Ipods sold are still in use (quite a generous assumption). 40 tunes is not really a driver for much of anything. Even if half the Ipods sold are effectively dead, that's 80 tunes/Ipod. "

That's now. When iPods and iTunes+iTunes store first came out the synergy of the two and Apple's force feeding acceptance of the iTunes software were a big part of the iPod's success. Thank god they weren't as successful shoving the quicktime player into the market place.
posted by Mitheral at 5:29 PM on April 4, 2011


My god they tried, they tried so hard.
posted by Artw at 6:30 PM on April 4, 2011


The Flip is dead - phones are eating everything.
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on April 12, 2011


om nom nom nom
posted by entropicamericana at 1:25 PM on April 12, 2011


Aww, man, Carson's got one of those flip recorders and the only thing keeping me from picking one up is that I hate video editing.
posted by klangklangston at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2011


The Flip is dead - phones are eating everything.

I got one at Christmas for my technophobe Dad who would never use a phone to video, but loves his new "cine" camera. It's a niche product so will likely have a longish tail in the eBay market.
posted by arcticseal at 1:47 AM on April 13, 2011


Mitheral: "When iPods and iTunes+iTunes store first came out the synergy of the two and Apple's force feeding acceptance of the iTunes software were a big part of the iPod's success. Thank god they weren't as successful shoving the quicktime player into the market place"

One benefit of hindsight is that as well as framing what is accepted to have happened as more inevitable and less contingent than what actually happened and the greater confusional experience as it was actually happening. That's the beauty of victory narratives, their unifying concordance makes for easy and comfortable repetition. It's also what makes "revisionist" histories possible, as reactions against the status quo and the minting of new cultural capital.

Anyway, I agree that the sum of the parts you mention is not negligible, but I dispute the magnitude of the "synergy", and its sequencing. Apple's progress to dominance was halting, and characterised by many false or delayed "synergies". The first Itunes (basically, a reskinned, lobotomised Soundjam) in early 2001 was OS9 only and didn't get around to supporting the Ipod (also Mac-only and no WIndows versions for a while) until, what, V2 or so? And even then only on OSX, no Windows (that happened nearly three years later). I recall being surprised as well that early Itunes software could sync with Rios and Archoses (Apple was hedging there). And the Itunes Store came a few years later.

I recall when the big relative and absolute acceleration in Ipod sales was happening in 2003-2007. I prepared some graphs for a report with Apple data porn on them, and one of them was tracking the absolute number of Itunes downloads/Ipod. The ratio was actually flat for a while at ~10 downloads/unit. So today's numbers do represent something of a success for Apple in terms of wringing extra post-sale revenue from the media player SKUs. But it's still chickenfeed compared to the post-sale revenues from the mobiles (where Apple gets an relatively outsize chunk of ARPUs significantly higher than the industry averages).
posted by meehawl at 4:28 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


David Pogue mourns the Flip in the NYT.
posted by arcticseal at 5:02 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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