Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune head-to-head with iPod

While reading reviews, I came across an interesting point - How is Microsoft going to erode Apple's market share, when happy iPod users are locked in with Apple's DRM? Uhmm, with this "Locked-in" monopoly, Microsoft can only compete with the 25%+ market share that Apple doesn't already own. Ouch! Zune marketeers cannot expect iPod users to throw away hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of Apple DRM'd content.

Call to action:
Microsoft needs to either create or endorse porting kits/incentive or creative licensing to lure iPod user's to the neat Zune platform. Say, port the DRM over with the consent of the music industry backers - the 'owners' of the IP.

Just food for thought.

Congrats Zune! - but i think you need to loose a bit of weight

Today's the day that Zune debuts! W00 hoo! I've been eyeing this little device for quite sometime. I mean there was all that hype at the Company Meeting, people were soo excited! Cheering whenever there was a whisper of Zune mentioned on stage.

Anyway, so 11.14.2006 Microsoft officially enters the consumer digital media player market. This lucrative market has made and broken many players. From the failures of S3/Diamond's RIO to the hyper success of the iPod. Everyone's asking, is Microsoft next in line to take over the throne?

Here's my take in a few parts:
1) First impressions
2) Look and feel/Sex appeal
3) Service + offerings

First impressions - Zune, you need to trim the fat...
Well today, I rushed off to go take a peek at the Zune right after work at the local Circuit City. Overall, the buttons take a minute to get used to - things are not exactly where you think it would be... after all I'm an avid iPod user.

The video resolution is beautiful and the real estate is generous. I couldn't really get a sense of the weight of the thing as it was tied down in the kiosk, but i did get a chance to really check out it's exterior. The two tone casing is decent, but is it really worth the 3mm extra layer of "Fat?!". I could definitely do without it, especially to make it look slim and sexy compared to it's killer competitor.

Tactile comparison:

  • Plastic - feels cheap, talks cheap
  • Polished metal - speaks money and value
  • Thin - feels refined, minimal, is not intrusive to carry around
  • Thick - bulky archaic, undesireable
Overall, I kinda got a so-so feeling about the device after fidgeting with it for a bit. Not an overwhelming impulse. The I got to HAVE this thing reaction - as encountered with the v1.0 Nano.

2) Look and sex appeal

Two tone look is nice, but is it sexy? - I can't get over it's chunkiness - Zune you're fat. Also, what can you say about this user experience?! Installation Error and you show this girl who looks a) having so much fun her stomach hurts b) is having an orgasmic of a time listening to the music (wait no Zune or headphones) c) is in so much pain because of this error message she wants to cringe - yikes! bad image to burn into the user's minds.

3) Servicing + Offerings
Welcome to the social - Great selling point, but will it be as pervasive as marketing and business strategy hopes? I can only hope, over time the service will enable Zune not only to exchange music wirelessly, but also purchase music and eventually access rich online services - be it, a personal digital wallet :)

I still gotta check out the Zune music service - aside from the pain point above, the screen shots look awesome.

Vista compatibility is limited yes, but hey this thing's gotta ship right? I'm sure Vista updates will be out and ready by the time Vista for the consumer is ready in Jan '07.

Subscription based music leasing - Dude! Make this a selling point! for 15 bux a month I can lease any music I want?! I wonder what the cost would be to convert those music leased to music bought. This is a key differentiating factor from iTunes and iPod - I hope that Zune's Music service exploits this difference.

Overall, my impressions of the Zune is that it's an average music player. Nothing to de-throne the iPod from it's overwhelming 75%+ market share, yet. Hey Microsoft's always in it for the long haul, let's see what V2 is like.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vista RTM'd

Yeppie! Vista is locked, loaded and ready to go. Enterprises, here Vista comes!

Now this begs the question, as a consumer should I go get Business Ed. For my desktop? Or should I wait till Jan for the consumer versions: Home Basic, Premium and Ultimate?

Well, Microsoft not just going to hold their breath from now until Jan. There are going to be subtle improvements on the way for sure. The bottom line, it's always worth the wait for quality... Right?

Speaking of quality check out these sweet new boxes:

What's cool in Vista that I like?
1) Organization via search - no more poking around to find your app and docs, just search!
2) Eye candy: Aero (glass), improved Alt-Tab (sticky is a nice feature), 3d-flip (kinda gimmicky), sidebar gadgets
3) More security conscious - reduced access while running software (UAC), IEs security offerings
4) Somewhat faster network access
5) DX10, yet to be seen what kind of awesome games this can help produce

With that said... how many people out there are going to be lining up at Best Buy to get a copy come January??

My guess.... not too many. The feedback i've been getting from the consumer land is that:

1) "...This product has been pegged with delays, and they still don't have it all right.. "
2) "...Microsoft never gets the OS right on the first try, I'm going to wait for SP1 or even SP2..."
3) "...Where are all my drivers? I want to game, use cool hardware, do things i could do on XPSP2, but better!..."

I guess you can't argue with those above points. ISVs (Independent software vendors) and IHVs (Independent hardware vendors) need to catch up and revise their products to be compatibile with Vista.

My take...
Well, my finger print reader software doesn't work, but most of my other peripherals work out of the box. My iPod (Zune isn't out yet so chill), my SD card reader, my webcam and all the little gadgets on my motherboard, all seem to work with Vista. I'm ready for it. I say try it out.

Wikipedia has an entry that describes the new features quite well: [link]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Music I Like: Kaskade - Love Mysterious

Arist: Kaskade
Album: Love Mysterious
Genre: Electronic, Down-tempo

Seductive, cool, and chill, what more can you ask for soft easy listening while driving to work or just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon reading a book. This guy can really produce awesome tracks, from his ground breaking In the Moment and his double 'best of' album Here and Now. On Love Mysterious, I find myself listening to the catchy club antheme 'Be Still' and chilled out track of 4am. Never the less, another great production, good job!

In search of sashimi

Ah... Winter is starting to settle in. As I sit here blogging, I stark crave for some SUSHI. In a recent trip back home I had the fortune of making a trip to an all you can eat buffet @ Masion du Japon in Toronto. (Go figure with the french name for Japanese cuisine).

MMMMMmm (pulpy salivation), doesn't this look awesome!

I gotta find a place here in the NW with similar offerings.