Saturday, July 22, 2006

Zune: Microsoft's New Music Network

Microsoft has once again entered the field of music by confronting Apple with a similar hardware/software/ internet service called Zune.

Engadget and Jupiter have some great posts on the service features, so I won't bother rehashing them here.

What intrigues me most about this new venture is they are saying that their service will have a "social" side to it. It's possible their music store will allow some sort of social networking and authorized P2P that surpasses iTunes' editorial and minimal social content. While fun to think about, it still doesn't sell me on Zune taking the 800lb primate to the mat.

The Cupertino camp has proven that the multi-platform strategy of linked hardware, software, and retail is a huge winner. Team Redmond has built their business on following Apple's winning OS format, and now they're going to try to one-up them once again. What's that the President said? "Fool me once, shame on... on.... won't get fooled again." I would imagine Jobs has learned from his previous mistakes and is prepared for this. (Can you tell I'm a Mac user?)

From the label perspective? Yet another music store where the customer still has to pay out the ass for music doesn't make me all that happy. CD's are dying, and despite the huge gains in the digital market, downloads are still too expensive to encourage experimentation and impulse purchases by the more casual listener. This is why I still think that the eMusic subscribe-to-own model is the best because it's not limited by DRM and it's financially pretty painless.

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