The Tour de Zune

by Erica Sadun

According to today's press releases, Microsoft's new Zune media player will debut in stores on 14 November, retailing for $249.99. Walmart is now accepting pre-orders for the units in white, black and brown.

Individual songs will cost $0.99, paid for using Microsoft Points. (You buy the points and then pay for the songs with points, 79 points per track.) You can also subscribe for $14.99 a month to an unlimited Zune Pass, allowing access to "millions of songs".

"On Nov. 14 we're delivering not only a device, but a shared, social experience that will be shaped by the collective imagination of consumers," said Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune. "We're infusing the spirit of discovery and sharing into everything we do -- from the experience we crafted around the device and service to pre-loading music and videos on every device to expose people to something new."



2006-09-28 18:16:39
I just "love" M$ user interfaces. That looks like a progress indicator at the bottom of the window above the play button - progress of what I wonder? So, does orange type tell you what you've selected in the list on the left? If you play a song, where does the info about the song show up?
2006-09-28 18:53:55
We're not invited to the party. (Whether or not we want to be I'll leave to the otehr Mac-centric sites.)
2006-09-28 21:08:45
gosh, its bad enough that it looks a lot like iTunes, but they even ripped off the album-covers-on-a-glass-table look. this has become a signature look for a lot of apple marketing, the CoverFlow view, its in iWeb as a graphic option for any photo or graphic. can't they do anything that's original and still look cool?
2006-09-29 00:55:12
$0.99 = 79 Microsoft points???

What marketing imbecile decided that 1 real cent should equal 1.25 fake Microsoft Points? What the hell is wrong with 1 cent = 1 point? In fact, what the hell is wrong with 1 cent = 1 cent??? Redmond's need for unnecessary complexity boggles the mind.

M. David Peterson
2006-10-05 17:30:18

>> 1 real cent should equal 1.25 fake Microsoft Points?

Isn't that the other way round, or better said, 1 real cent is worth .75 Microsft points? Well, .7821 to be precise, but I think taking it to that level of precision is beyond your point, which is a good one.

That said, I did read in the press release (at least I think it was the press release, though it may have been content that was linked to from the press release) that this is similar to what they have done with XBox, and as such my guess is that as strange as it might sound, its something that has proven to generate enough interest and overall success as a result to justify the weirdness of it all.

If I were to suggest a possible reason behind this it would probably be something similar to the popularity of giving Visa/Mastercard gift card's instead of cold hard cash to their children as it allows the ability to place limitations upon how much can be spent, while at the same time restricting them in regards to what they are enabled to purchase. If not mistaken, there are ways to disable the ability to purchase various items using the Visa/MC gift cards, and using this same generalized idea, this would allow parents to provide their kids the freedom to choose what it is they want to purchase, while at the same time limiting the scope of their overall choices.

From an adult consumer perspective, I believe you're spot on. But from the stanpoint of ones children, I must admit that in many ways it does make enough sense as to understand why they have chosen this route, as the "tweener" market is without a doubt a market they are going to take significant interest in. The very fact that it's this same target market that has created a billion dollar industry out of ring-tones should be enough to get the marketing types moving forward with ways to make it as easy as possible for parents to provide ways of both controlling access to the various areas of the Zune marketplace while at the same time not limiting them past these points of control.

M. David Peterson
2006-10-05 17:36:45

>> That looks like a progress indicator at the bottom of the window above the play button - progress of what I wonder?

The current song being played.

Its the same as Windows Media Player 11, though I will admit that the above screen shot doesn't exactly make it obvious.