iPod killer was the claim made in November 2006 when Zune was launched by Microsoft. The Zune is a digital media player made for Microsoft by Toshiba. The software includes the Zune Marketplace which includes Video and podcast stores as well as online music.
Microsoft thought they could grab a large slice of the market from iPod with its new innovations for MP3 players but did not count on the iPod faithful followers. Zune comes with a built in FM radio, it has the ability to share its songs wirelessly on Windows PCs computers and with other Zune’s. On Windows XP and Vista users can, rip audio CDs, manage files, and buy songs, TV shows and video music using Zunes software.
Zune’s advantages over iPod
The first Zune was released with a 30GB memory. The Ipod is smaller and lighter but the new Zune 38GB music player has screen half an inch lager with brighter colours.
The FM tuner should give it a big advantage over the Apple iPod, and the Zune supports unprotected AAC files which is better than using the default settings for ripping CD’s with the iPod.
Wi-Fi connectivity was an innovative feature that put Zune in new territory from other MP3 players. The Wi-fi feature will enable users to socialize within their music universe. If you want to exchange songs with your friends then this portability is an attractive prospect.
The Zune Marketplace is subscription based and integrated so that there online database can be accessed without having to download to your computer before accessing new music. The ability to download as many songs as you want for a flat fee is another important aspect.
Other advantages are it is easy to use the interface combines horizontal and vertical scrolling, with many top-level menus displaying horizontally across the top of the screen, while lists of tracks or track information run vertically. Generally much faster than the iPod the Zune interface runs almost instantaneously through the tracks playlist and shuffle play. The circular main control is touch sensitive on Zune and has four-position directional control as well as a central select button.
Zunes larger display screen makes a big difference over the course of extended viewing and also boasts great quality audio, with clear and crisp video. It has tons of cool features, and synchronizes nicely with windows media centre. Because Zune also works with Xbox 360 most people think it’s fun to use.
Not so clever Zune disadvantages.
iPods smaller size and weight make it easier t carry than the Zune.
Firmware updates where needed from the start as Zune had a lot of problems. And quite a few people had reservations about Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management policy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in opposition to the Zune’s DRM, wrote:
“ Microsoft’s Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or ‘rented’ from Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, iTunes, or any other online media service. The Zune will not even play content previously purchased from Microsoft’s own MSN Music service. …The media that Microsoft promised would Play For Sure doesn’t even play on Microsoft’s own device.”
Upgrades the following year saw Microsoft become less strict in there use of DRM and dropped it for around 1/3 of its tracks.
From September 2008, Zunes like its rival iPod are designed only to be compatible only with the Zune software provided by Microsoft.
Other disadvantages include the fact that after you are only allowed to listen to a song three times before it expires after receiving it from a friend. You cannot resend it to a third party.
iTunes is a much simpler option to use that the Zune Marketplace. Simple and elegant to use iTunes is also very intuitive. With iTunes you can just click on a song and pay your 99 cents with your credit card. To buy from Zune Marketplace you have to purchase blocks of points so that you have to buy at the very least $5 of points. So if you only need one 99cent song Microsoft are holding onto your other $4.1 until you want to purchase another song. It is not easy as it is based on a points system. One song will cost you 79 points which you may think is cents while the actual 79 points costs 99cents. So buying music from Microsoft is over complicated and not easy to figure out?
Will the popularity of Zune ever be able to overtake Apple iPod the market leader?
One question everyone is asking is can Zune catch up to iPod. Apple’s share of the portable media player market among high school students increased to 84 percent, it was 80 percent a year ago according to Piper Jaffray’s bi-annual teen survey. 78% said that if they where going to buy a MP3 player then it would be an iPod. Zunes share of the market is up from the 2% last year and it now commands 3%. Now 15% of the teen’s surveyed plan to buy a Zune if they purchase within the next year. An increase from the 13% of last year.
So it looks like the Zune is progressing in the MP3 player market but not at a rate that will cause the Apple iPod and problems in the near future. Zune does is not supported on Mac computers and a lot of youngsters are using them so creating another problem for Zune.