Microsoft wants to clone the iPod, not kill it
As more details emerge about Microsoft's Zune music player, one thing is clear: Microsoft is trying its best to copy Apple's playbook for the iPod. For starters, Digital Music News reports, it's gutting its PlaysForSure licensing system, which lets Windows Media play music on gadgets from Creative and Samsung, and download music from any online store. Songs downloaded from RealNetworks' Rhapsody, Napster, MusicMatch and others reportedly won't play on the new Zune. Instead, the Zune will have its own branded store that's off-limits to other players -- much as song downloads from the iTunes Music Store are meant to play on iPods only.

After Microsoft gets done stabbing its former partners in the back, however, it's hardly planning to do more than poke at Apple. Strategy documents leaked to Digital Music News say that Microsoft is only hoping to capture 20 percent of the iPod market, concentrating on the 18-to-28-year-old demographic. And even those modest ambitions may be a bit high, since, at $399 for a 30-gigabyte player, Microsoft's first Zune will cost $100 more than a comparable iPod. A better way to capture cash-strapped teens would seem to be offering a cheaper player, not a more expensive one -- but the Wi-Fi networking features in the Zune apparently boosted the cost.

Does Microsoft's new music strategy have a chance? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.
Posted by Owen Thomas 10:30 AM 10 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Sounds like it will be DOA. Microsoft is trying way too hard to catch lightning in a bottle like Apple did. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't have the cache nor the cool factor that comes along with iPods. Maybe if they tried to innovate instead of rip off Apple's strategy then perhaps they would have a chance. As it stands I don't see anything that would make me even consider switching.
Posted By Clinton, Montreal, Quebec : 2:06 PM  

I believe abandoning the Plays for Sure format will doom it to be another niche oriented relic. Apple so far has been able maintain its dominance by being the first into the MP3 market with a great hardware device; But this is exactly what let the door open for Microsoft to knock them off with Windows in the PC/OS market. Now it seems Microsoft has forgotten it's own strategy and is trying to play protectionist king of the hill. Plays-for-Sure will yield the ultimate winner in this competition, and whoever utilizes it the best will come out on top
Posted By Steve, Tampa FL : 3:35 PM  

As an 18 year old, I believe this new music player from microsoft will not be a success. If the price is higher than an Ipod no one is going to buy it unless it has features different of the Ipod. Its like going to two different grocery stores and seeing granny smith apple's for a dollar a pound at one and two dollars a pound at the other...people are going to buy the one dollar a pound apples obviously...
Posted By Matt, Trumbull Connecticut : 3:49 PM  

I use iTunes and as a customer I don't see why I would buy Microsoft's Zune and lose my music collection (that I spent hundreds of dollars building). I don't see how Microsoft can capture iPod users without letting them transfer their music collection.
Posted By Tony, Minneapolis, MN : 4:56 PM  

Sony tried it too...does anyone really use Sony Connect?
Posted By chase, barrington, illinois : 12:15 AM  

What does Apple have the Microsoft doesn't seem to understand? A stable operating system. As said before, it has taken time and money to build up the song collection that I have for my iPod, and I trust my iPod and my Powerbook to retain that music a lot more than I would any PC. Plus costing that much more money, it just seems silly to switch. Give me my iPod any day. Microsoft needs to focus on making better, more stable products rather than targeting anyone who possibly has a good idea that is possibly related to their field and trying to kill them. Microsoft is a digital bully with a lousy product, and iPod will win out in the end.
Posted By Liz, Williamsburg, VA : 4:46 PM  

I don't have an Ipod, I bought a cheaper Creative 512MB player. Only because I'm waiting for the new bigger screen video IPods to roll out. I've liked Apple since high school, however I do own a Dell-PC, but seriously considering buying the new MacBook Pro since it's Intel Core Duo (best of both worlds). Why would anyone pay more for a player just because it's WIFI, that's not a big enough lure (and you know Apple will have one soon anyway). And I agree, why would any IPod user buy the Zure when they can't move their Ipod music over and new users would be stuck to the same rule as Itunes, what you buy is only good on a Zune. The lure of Creative, Napster, etc is being able to play your downloads on any player for less $$ (Napster & Real aren't exactly breaking any sales records). Apple has already built too big of a customer base and the marketing has burnt into many minds MP3=Ipod. It's like when Mini-CDs (and the new mini-DVDs) came out, they may have been very good options, but no one was about to dump their current CD/DVD collections for a newer system that would require more money spent and still give the same quality. DVDs, CD's & MP3's did it only because they changed the entire industry & are easier, and made the old formats (VCR & Vinyl) seem obsolete and were analog. MSFT is SOL on this one, as long as Itunes downloads are only playable on an Ipod - Apple will be the victorious. At least until MP3 is supplanted by the next technology and someone jumps on that technology with something cooler and more marketable than Ipod (unless it's Apple who does it).
Posted By Travis, Fremont, CA : 5:32 PM  

Microsoft has economic momentum but the Intellectual Property pool is starting to dry out for the giant, who is fighting too many losing battles and is now mimicking their competitors.

They may have a huge cash reserve in their warchest, but the wiser decision is innovation, not confrontation/immitation.
Posted By William Gates, Seatle, WA : 11:16 PM  

DOA for Microsoft's Zune! Apple's greatest weapon is its creativity. Microsoft will always play catch-up. Look at Windows -- it has so many bugs and constantly infested with viruses. Their OS is caged in boxy computers. Clone iPod??? - I do not think so, Microsoft.
Posted By Eric G. -- Jersey City USA : 11:22 PM  

It is rather interesting to see where MS will go with their Zune. But I do not see their attempt to "clone" the ipod ever succeeding.
Why do they even bother, look at Apples Ipod/Itunes, it is genuinely an excellent product....hence the dominance. What's the problem, they deserve the success.
MS should try and improve the music player, add some features, but for the success, keep the cost of a player lower then Apples!
If MS want to even subsidise the player, then go ahead. I doubt it will work....They will probably fail as the Sony's Bean did.....

MS should work on the idea of a purely wireless music player with no memory! Accessing directly via hotspots (need more though) from the users own playlist uploaded onto online player. That would keep the costs down! MS could even charge for service of uploading.... Just an idea!!
Posted By Tor Skule, Copenhagen, Denmark : 5:51 AM  

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