Tuesday, November 14, 2006

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.

No comments: