Zune Off To A Slow Start

HardOCP News

[H] News
Dec 31, 1969
I know this article says that the Zune had a decent first month but I don’t think the player is doing as well as it could. Has anyone seen any real, in-depth Zune reviews? I can think of maybe 10 mainstream reviews out there and that’s it. I think it would help Microsoft greatly to get these things into the hands of people that review these things.

Although Microsoft didn't release the Zune until more than halfway through November, the company was the second-leading manufacturer of hard disk drive-based media players, capturing 9 percent of the U.S. retail market, according to NPD. Including both flash memory and hard disk drive players, Microsoft came in fourth, with 1.9 percent of the market.
Personally, I just don't see the alure of the Zune or it's service.

If I want streaming, I have Yahoo Music for $5 a month. All I can eat.

Next, instead of eating it's own dog food, Microsoft creates yet another non-cross-platform DRM system. Well, I guess it is their Dog Food. Just the cheaper store-bought brand :)

Finally, the wireless implementation sound useless to me, and is more of a marketing engine for Microsoft than an actual user feature.

It just doesn't add up.

Yeah, the only real thing that sets the Zune apart from anything else is the wireless feature and that seems pretty pointless to me. It won't be often where you're in range of another Zune user considering how poorly these will and have been selling.
I think with a little fine tuning on MS's part, add FULL wireless functionality, video downloads for that big video screen, etc. etc. etc. it would be cool.

The big problem??? I don't know a damn thing about it...no one seems to have a real review of the thing anywhere. Commercials saying stupid stuff like "welcome to the social" and "brown is the new black is the new white". What the!?!?!

I have seen a couple decent reviews, and a bunch of superficial "PR type" reviews but nothing that tore into the thing telling me why I wanted to buy it.


Microsoft needs to send two to our [H] Consumer guys and let them have a go at it.
I have both the Zune and the 60 and 80GB iPods and I cannot understand why the 30GB Zune is bigger than the 80GB iPod. As the radio and wireless feature requires a bit more hardware, Microsoft could have easily offered both a 30 and 80GB solution with the same footprint. Thus, attacking Apple head-on.

In addition, the wireless feature is useless. Limiting any song to three plays whether DRM'ed or homespun eliminates any allure of the wireless feature.

The Zune application itself is rigid and lacks the usability and functionality of iTunes. Simple one-two click operations in iTunes require multiple steps in Zune. Using Zune reminds me of the ancient days when struggling with MusicMatch Jukebox.

Another indicator that Zune has received lukewarm reception is the low number of companies manufacturing carrying cases, etc. I was surprised to see that iSkin did not have a protector of some sort available. Getting the folks at iSkin onboard would be a substantial step in the right direction.

It is very clear that Microsoft has approached this market with the intention of control or manipulation. Interestingly, I would love to see some statistics on Microsoft’s two-week free trial for those early adopters of the Zune. After ten minutes of fighting with the Zune application, I never bothered to use the two-week pass.
I have the player. I have a huge music collection. You know i made an impulse buy......... at the store it looked hella pimp. It has quite a few videos built in that gave me a good idea of what it could do. I plugged it in and then the fun started. You can not see storage space. It does not give a running count of how much space is on the dam thing. Thats a huge pet peeve for me. I dont like also how when it syncs it doesnt sync the files i selected.............. i ran through every file in my music folders. I have about 100GBs of music........ so who the hell knows what exactly it synced. I wish these players had a much easier interface without having to use these stupid proprietary software. I wish i could just drag and drop folders with play list in them onto the drive................. bam thats it. Not that simple. I guess im a nooob when it comes to that. I find it much easier to transfer music by drag and drop. Im going to return mine.

I have this 1gb player with no bells and whistle........... i can just create andy folder on the drive Name it and Presto.............. new album that the player can recognize. Then its as simple as a file transfer. Not some 1 hour sync i cant control. The inteface is not intuitive. Oh well.............. no time on display, you cant see the drive on your computer as extra storage, no equalizer other then presets....................... One thing is grand. The radio on this baby is hot! it picks up stations very well. Im just going to return it and put the money towards a decent Dell laptop with a huge screen and it can play music and videos everywhere. ......... LOL.
So, what I am hearing is the hardware is fine, it is the implementation and software that is lacking.

If they implemented wireless downloading of tunes from your PC and someone wrote a better software interface for it it would be better?

See, that is why someone needs to really give this a thorough once over.
Steve said:
So, what I am hearing is the hardware is fine, it is the implementation and software that is lacking.

Wouldn't be microsoft if that wasn't the case ;)
So they're up to 2% of the market in less than a month? That is pretty impressive since I haven't seen any ads on TV for it like I do for the ipod all the time. Resistance is futile! :p
Ok so i finally figured out how to manually do my transfer. Aaaarrrgh much better maiteey. Ok i have decided to keep it. When i turned off Auto Sync it lets me do it all myself. To be honest now i like this baby. It even shows me a nice transfer list and as it transfers each one over. Auto sync is just retarded............. well that is if you have a huge collection like me. The only thing now is for them to allow the device to be used for storage ........... i mean dammmm is that too much to ask for. Its almost 2007 for fauks sake. Who puts out a player with this much capacity and doesn't allow you to drag and drop regular files.

Thats about my only gripe with this player............... paying this much money and it doesnt let you store other things on it. Bastards!!
Steve said:
So, what I am hearing is the hardware is fine, it is the implementation and software that is lacking.

If they implemented wireless downloading of tunes from your PC and someone wrote a better software interface for it it would be better?

See, that is why someone needs to really give this a thorough once over.
There's a lot more to it then making the software better. I think one of the core problems with adoption is saturation of the iPod. Look at the plethora of extras for the iPod, cars are coming with built-in iPod connectors. Look at the popularity of the iPod, it's the cool device. Microsoft has never been cool and there certainly not many extra's for the zune, yet. If you're making a purchase you want the device that has the most compatibility and accessories available. It's the exact opposite scenario for OS X and Windows.

Microsoft will either need the killer application, and sharing is not it, or market the hell out of the Zune. But before they do that, they need to streamline usability. On benefit of the Zune is it'll help push innovation in the portable MP3 market.
Microsoft will come through in the end. Regardless of how much people hate the company, they do listen to the communities feedback. See Vista and Xbox 360.
DieU said:
In addition, the wireless feature is useless. Limiting any song to three plays whether DRM'ed or homespun eliminates any allure of the wireless feature.
Yes! Lets make everyone a walking P2P sneakernet! Piracy ftw! :rolleyes:
I know that some of you may misunderstand what I'm about to say. From appearances my guess is that Microsoft doesn't understand either. But I'm not trying to make some semantic argument. So all I can do is try to explain it.

Zune is not an "essential good", meaning you don't have to own it to survive. Therefor it will always be sensitive to how it's priced. People may want to buy one, but if paying X amount of dollars means they won't have enough money to pay some of their bills, they will not follow through with a purchase. I believe this is the reason why Zune is "off to a slow start".

However, economics has a principle which describes how Microsoft might make far more money than they currently are making from this product. It's called "Price Elasticity Gain", which states that if they can lower the costs and price of a product then more people will be able to afford it. And in the end they can make more money than they would trying to sell the same product at a higher price. The catch is that they have to be prepared to make large quantities of said product. First, so that they can take advantage of efficiencies like "Economies of Scale". And, second, so that they can come as close to meeting all of the demand for their product.

At present, Microsoft might not have been making Zune long enough to benefit from Economies of Scale. Still if they can lower their profit margin they should be able to sell more units. Perhaps the best explanation for Microsoft not doing this is that they don't have any Accountants, or Executives, that stayed awake in Macro Economics class. :p The real fact is that "features" are not what count the most. Price is normally what makes, or breaks, a product of this kind.

That being said, I know that Marketing also makes a big difference in our society. So all the cool kids already have iPods. And regardless of how you may feel about Microsoft, they may not ever have the same "cool factor" as Apple does. If they want to compete, Microsoft has to be prepared to sell Zune to everyone else. That means, regardless of Marketing and Features, they also have to compete on Price.
I was going to get the Zune, but I was given an iPod interface for my Kenwood radio, so I got a 30gig iPod instead.
What if the Zune was $50 cheaper than the iPod? If it had a $199 pricepoint compared to the current $249.99 it might do a lot better as well.
I own a Zune. I got a video iPod for an early Christmas, but I found myself disappointed and ended up returning it. In my opinion, it suffered from six issues:

1) The screen was too small. It can watch videos, yeah, but I don't think I'd want to watch them on a screen that small for any extended period of time. Like I later found out about its intended use, it does seem more like an iPod that happens to support video rather than a video iPod.

2) The click wheel was extremely irritating to use. I prefer actual buttons - not click wheels, touch strips, or anything else of the sort. I was constantly over and undershooting selections, to the point that even to go back to change the EQ was annoying.

3) The interface was boring. Customization was, well...not good. For me, that's important.

4) The construction materials aren't what I would call ideal. The metal back, while it looks nice, is a fingerprint magnet and the front plastic scratches extremely easily.

5) No FM tuner. Being a fan of talk radio, I figured my favorite talk radio personalities would offer podcasts of the current day's show. Wrong. With the exception of Michael Savage, who has no podcasting of his show and once sued someone for posting podcasts of it, they all charge exorbitant fees.

6) The sound quality didn't seem to befit its price tag. It seemed flat and didn't have much punch to it at all, even with my Sennheiser CX-300b's.

Please don't think of that as a tirade against the iPod, because I do think for someone who simply wants something "that just works", it's a good product, while the Zune might be more geared towards someone like me who doesn't mind braving the preliminary bugs and issues for an overall "newer" product. So far, my Zune seems to have been the answer to the issues that I had:

1) The screen is bigger and is much easier to watch. I recognize that the Zune doesn't necessarily have the most colorful screen on the market, but for me that's not particularly important. I'm an A/V kind of guy, but audio is much more important than video.

2) No touch wheel or pad or strip or anything else, ACTUAL BUTTONS! My Zune is so unbelievably easy to navigate that I can hardly believe it.

3) The interface is a delight to behold. When I first set it up, I actually felt compelled to show it off because I was proud of it. It's simple, easy to navigate, customizable, and then some.

4) The construction material for the Zune is extremely nice. For once, I won't have to blow money on a case because of its scratch-resistant body. A screen protector is a given, yeah, but those can be had for a pittance. The subtle transparent blue edges accent the black very nicely, and my Zune feels very nice to hold.

5) The FM tuner is the BOMB. It gets outstanding reception and its interface looks fantastic. You can even see the station name, station genre, and current song for each station (if they're broadcasting it).

6) The sound quality is excellent. While there aren't an abundance of EQ settings, I don't really see that as a downside since the overall sound quality is quite a bit better than the iPod.

I do love my Zune - really, I do. But I don't think it's currently an iPod killer as much as it is an alternative; there aren't many reasons for current owners of an iPod to upgrade to a Zune unless you're in the same boat I was. Microsoft seems to be trying to match Apple rather than beat them - the pricetags for the video iPod and Zune are the same, and the accessory prices are about the same (too expensive).

This is entirely unacceptable given the fact that the Zune software can be cumbersome and more difficult to use than iTunes, and the Zune Marketplace is nowhere near on the level of the iTunes store. The DRM restrictions are bad enough...sheesh.

ZM doesn't even have any videos yet! Having a bigger screen on the Zune is great, M$, but if you want us to even think twice about using it then you're going to have to add downloadable movies and TV shows. Converting our video files to WMV is cumbersome enough, but not having any readily downloadable videos from the marketplace is really not going to help matters.

But even still, I believe the Zune could gain traction and become more of a threat the iPod.

First, Microsoft needs to have price cuts across the board, even small ones, to make the prices of Zune-related items lower than iPod items. The Zune should at least be a little cheaper than the iPod to deliver a one-two punch of lower price and superior features and its accessories should be a little cheaper as well. If that was the case, Joe Schmo might start to question whether he wants to pay for an across-the-board more expensive iPod which has less features than the Zune.

Next, they need to fix the Zune software to make it easier to use. Having a good Zune GUI is useless if the computer software necessary to utilize it is bunk!

After that, they need to loosen up on the DRM music sharing restrictions. How are we supposed to "spread the music" if the DRM kicks in and cripples it after three plays? I don't think there's anything wrong with limitations on music sharing, but they shouldn't be nearly as restrictive as they currently are. Make it something like 7 plays or 7 days.

And finally, they need to either add more to the Zune Marketplace or lower its prices ever so slightly - preferably both. First, let us buy things individually and don't strongarm the customer into paying for "blocks" of points. As it stands, few people want to deal with a service that forces you to buy these "blocks" of points and has a much narrower selection than iTunes. Even fewer would want to pay for a monthly "subscription" that robs you of all your downloaded music that you paid to download if you stop paying. If the prices were even a little cheaper than iTunes or the selection was comparable, ZM would be easier to stomach.
I'll prolly get an iPod Nano. I don't understand why anybody would want to watch video on such a small screen.
Maximus825 said:
I'll prolly get an iPod Nano. I don't understand why anybody would want to watch video on such a small screen.
I chose the iPod video since it has more storage, and I was tired of burning MP3 CD's for the car. video is just a neat feature.