Why The Zune Will Outdo The iPod

by Tanner Godarzi Oct 12, 2007

The Zune’s introduction was met with much criticism from the Apple community and was passed off as an iPod knockoff. Recently, Microsoft updated the platform and proved why Apple should be wary of the Redmond based company.

Consumer friendly hardware. Those three words don’t seem like something that would go hand in hand with Microsoft, but when it comes to the Zune, the two share the same traits. Compared to the iPod and even iPhone, the Zune lacks in design and capabilities, but after the recent introduction of two new flash players and a product refresh, Microsoft just showed how a product should be made in terms of support.

Apple’s intentions are locking down the iPhone and iPod Touch to deter any sort of added functionality; what you get is what’s in the box. Apple has been pushing out updates to make it more appealing to users, but there is a serious flaw in why Apple is doing it.

Apparently, Apple would rather lock you out of your iPhone and limit you to a walled garden of features. So you are being tempted to upgrade and gain new apps and other cool things, but it’s a ploy to tempt users who hacked their iPhones to upgrade and reset things to how Apple wanted them.

The Zune, on the other hand, had its software upgraded to that of the newer interface shipping on all new models. Tell me, would Apple think of upgrading their older iPods in such a way? Of course not, they’d rather you buy a new iPod just to increase sales.

Take, for instance, some other miniscule features that are disabled in the iPod Touch. Why is it that I can add a new calendar entry on my iPhone but when I turn to the iPod Touch—which runs the same exact OS—I cannot add a new entry? Now why is it that it takes a couple added lines to a .plist to enable a feature which had no bugs?

Will the Zune take over the iPod right now? Would Windows Mobile based phones squash the iPhone now? No way, the opportunity will come when Apple slips up and their user base becomes fed up with all the crippling and disabling of basic features and add-ons.

When this happens, Microsoft will be in the perfect position to take over the iPod and iPhone market share. They’ve got the resources, power, and hardware to accomplish this.

The current trend in technology is the convergence of devices; why not make a Windows Mobile phone combined with the Zune. Not so interesting right? Oh, how about some third party goodness and compatibility with other platforms and media stores. When it all comes down to it, Apple will want you locked in to their proprietary platform while Microsoft will take a different approach.

I won’t avoid the fact that almost every tech company out there would want to lock you in to their own stuff. Microsoft, in my opinion, would like to lock you down as well but keep it more open than Apple. They have a tendency of doing so, but in the process throwing in as much compatibility as possible with many other things.

Face it, as good as the iPhone is, as good as Apple wants it to be, Microsoft will slaughter them if they continue down the course they are on.


  • What?

    My 3g ipod software was updated pretty regularly until the technology in the new ipods went beyond what my hardware could handle (color, video, etc).  It can never be upgrade to the software of the touch or the iPhone - they run OSX.  Am I bummed about this?  No. It does what I need, it works great (even if the battery is showing it’s age).  And in terms of music formats, it plays the majority of what’s available out there except for…Microsoft’s proprietary DRM.  It works with Amazon’s MP3 store.  It works with MP3.com.  It works with Windows.  Where’s the lockdown?  And how is the Zune - which adds DRM to a song when you share it and doesn’t work on a Mac - a more open platform?

    Do you have some kind of inside info that Apple’s not going to update the calendar?  Or at some point allow developers to create programs for the touch and the iPhone?  Rumors are that’s coming pretty soon so your argument may become irrelevant sooner rather than later.  Will apple want to maintain some kind of control over what goes on their equipment?  Probably.  The user experience is their primary focus and buggy programs that crash the hardware are going to drive the user nuts.  Most general, not tech head, users I know don’t care about adding a lot of esoteric software to their phones or computers.  The latest poll on iLounge showed the majority of iPod users use their iPods for….music only!  Imagine that.  They’re the people who drive the $$.

    And let’s talk convergence for a second.  I know and work with a lot of people who use blackberrys.  You know what?  The majority of them carry a cel phone as well.  Let me repeat that - the majority of them DON’T USE THE BLACKBERRY AS A PHONE.  I have asked about this, and the answer I get back is: when I’m on the phone and have to check my e-mail or discuss an e-mail, the blackberry is usesless.  That’s the problem with the converged device…unless it’s not a business tool, but a consumer gadget.  Which is what Apple’s putting together.  It’s a different paradigm.

    This is a pretty lousy article - all supposition and no real facts.

    domarch had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 12
  • The reason the Zune can be updated in this way is that the new generation Zune is the same as the old generation Zune, with a new wardrobe but no radical changes.

    Since the iPhone and iPod Touch are radically different from old iPods, of course you can’t change one into the other with a software upgrade.  The iPod’s CPU isn’t powerful enough to run the new software, and there is no touch screen. 

    Apple has already updated iPhone twice and promises continuous updates throughout the device.  iPhone owners have already gotten two updates, with more on the way.  It looks to me like old iPhones will be updated to resemble new ones, with the exception of technology that is not on the old units (such as a 3G radio).

    Looks to me like Apple is doing just fine in this respect, and that pretty much invalidates your article.


    David H Dennis had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 7
  • I agree with domarch but a little further research by the author would also show that Apple, until the iTouch and iPhone did not own or write the OS that ran the iPod. It was licensed from a third party OEM which may have restricted the sort of updates that could occur.

    georges had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Tanner, your articles are generally well researched and thought out.  But here you’re engaging in a surprising amount of FUD.  Well even Michael Jordan had his off days.

    tundraboy had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 132
  • There seems to be much confusion, hyperbole and speculation about the recent update to the iPhone. Consequently, I’ve noticed a series of fallacies going around about the iPod and the iPhone that appear in this article. There are questions that Apple has not cleared up, so people have put the worse spin possible on them. Future events may surprise people, including the author.

    The greatest fallacy I’ve noticed is a Post Hoc fallacy regarding the recent update to 1.1.1. The idea here is that because some iPhones were rendered inoperable (bricked) after the update that this can only mean that the update itself was responsible. Worse yet, paranoia crept in by people saying that Apple must have known the effects of the update, so the bricking was premeditated. I heard people comparing Steve Jobs to Adolf Hitler, or worst yet—George Bush.

    Some of the hype has diminished in the last several weeks so we know what really happened. Every update has a few people innocently effected; Apple has fixed those under warranty.

    Ir appears that people who just added Third Party applications sometimes had them over written, but their phones still worked. It is still unclear whether Apple did so punitively or innocently. If Apple did not know the applications were there because they didn’t check and assumed that the space was available then the applications would naturally be overwritten.

    Apple may legitimately be concerned about Third Party applications, because in order to install them the hackers had to exploit a bug in the operating system software. Apple fixed that bug in update 1.1.1, so that applications can no longer be installed that way.

    It appears that only those people who unlocked their iPhones from AT&T were bricked. There were several ways of doing that, but it appears now that only those who used the AnySIM application got bricked. Some of the people who are working to hack the 1.1.1 update say that the AnySIM application contained bad code that led to the bricking. Thus, Apple was not the direct cause of the malfunction, while AnySIM was. So, any paranoia about Apple was misplaced.

    The hackers on the 1.1.1 update have since released a method to return a bricked iPhones to the 1.0.2 firmware, so the bricked iPhones will now work. From there, you can update to 1.1.1 and then reload your apps and unlock your iPhone from AT&T. But, the hackers accept no responsibility for you choosing to do this and warn you not to update to 1.1.2 until it has been checked out.

    The author makes several assumptions from this episode that are probably fallacious. The first is that Apple intends to permanently keep Third Party applications off the iPhone. We really don’t know if this is a temporary or permanent condition. I’ve maintained that it is probably temporary. My understanding is that the iPhone OS is unfinished. It’s good enough for a phone, but it is lacking the necessary security to be safe to run as a handheld computer. All applications run at “root” level which is a massive security breach that could let in virus’ and malware.

    Apple has just released a web page of web applications for the iPhone. When Apple has released its newest operating system upgrade (Mac OSX 10.5) this month, then they can reassign programmers to fix the iPhone’s security. Then a system can be developed to safely run Third Party applications. It makes sense for Apple to allow this under controlled conditions. Apple should want to manage this so that good, safe, useful apps can be sold through the iTunes Music Store. It isn’t the small amount of money that Apple will make on this, Apple makes next to no money on the iTMS. It’s that the more useful the iPhone is to people, the more of them that will be sold.

    The author assumes that the new Zune player will have an advantage in that Third party application can be run on it. But, we do not know Apple’s intentions regarding Third Party apps in the future and it is unwise to assume that Apple won’t open up the iPhone when it is safe to do so.

    UrbanBard had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 111
  • I can’t find the link at the moment, but I read recently that Jobs admitted that updating calendar events on the iPod touch would be fixed in the near future.  It’s omission was a “bug.”

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 44
  • Tell me, would Apple think of upgrading their older iPods in such a way?

    What you’re asking for is NOT an upgrade of an older model (which, as others note, Apple has done repeatedly), but rather, a cross-grade from one product (the iPhone) to another (the iPod Touch).

    By that stellar reasoning, Zunes should’ve picked up the feature sets of Windows CE phones. Once again, MS screwing their customers and. We knew it when they abandoned the “Plays for Sure” customers and biz partners, without so much as a “sorry, guys; Life moves on.” Ehh?

    WaltFrench had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 5
  • Are your out of your freaking mind???

    The very first thing the Zune did to loyal Microsoft customers when it was first introduced was to SCREW everyone they’d suckered into buying music with their “playsforsure” DRM!! And now your praising them because they came up with a freaking firmware update.  Yeah when the change to your product is evolutionary and not revolutionary, you can do that sort of thing.

    The firmware for the iPod touch will _never_ run on an older iPod. 

    THE mp3 player for this year is the iPod Touch.  Watch the numbers for the Christmas season.  The touch will mop the floor with the Zune.

    Don’t ever try to tell me that a player introduced from a manufacturer was to royally screw their initial customers has anything even resembling customer service. 

    Cry and bitch all you want about the calendar feature on the touch, but with respect to the Zune vs. the iPod I have to ask where’s the Wifi store for buying songs on the Zune??  That’s a pretty blatant missing feature right there.

    I don’t know why I bother responding to some of these stories.  You should just rename your site - Trolling Apple Users Matters….

    BigW had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 10
  • M$ did that because that was the ONLY way they would be able to sell the boatloads of Zunes still in the channel. It had everything to do with trying not to obsolete the ones that hadn’t even been sold yet! To figure out how many that is, just subtract the 27 who actually bought a Zune from the millions that M$ claims to have sold.

    instig8r had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 1
  • “Will the Zune take over the iPod right now? Would Windows Mobile based phones squash the iPhone now? No way, the opportunity will come when Apple slips up and their user base becomes fed up with all the crippling and disabling of basic features and add-ons.”

    One thing Apple is very good at is leap-frogging anything out there. Microsoft’s mobile phone was available a long long time ago, yet Apple quickly surpassed it with the iPhone.

    Sometimes, MS is slow to recognize rapid changes in the marketplace and technology. Despite its resources, it couldn’t take advantage of its work in touch screen PDAs and extend it to phones and portable music players. MS is always a step back. No matter what it does, it will always be behind.

    Certainly, Apple can stumble, but I’m less certain any other company can fill the gap. Apple is capable of bringing another product to outdo the competition.

    I continue to think Apple’s closed systems are its biggest archilles’ heel. Time for competitors to really widen the gap in this area.

    TechGuy2 had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 12
  • Dude, do you have a death wish?  This is like walking into a Southern Baptist convention and telling them that only Allah can show them the way.

    For now, the Zune and the iPod both have the same problems, locked down DRM and completely closed systems.  That’s fine for the iPod because it’s the market leader.  But if you want to compete with that, you have to offer a product that is unquestionably better.  And right now, the Zune isn’t.

    It has to offer more features, more capacity, at a cheaper price.  Right now it’s got a few more features (wifi updating being a significant one), but the same capacity at the same price.  Not good enough.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 13, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • That one wants to update an iPods less frequently than one wants to charge it makes wifi synching a dull boy.

    First to give me wireless CHARGING wins my heart forever.

    Unless it’s Microsoft.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 13, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Typical Apple Matters “THE SKY IS FALLING!!!” article.

    mitchell_pgh had this to say on Oct 13, 2007 Posts: 18
  • Even a cursory reading of Economics 101 will reveal that ‘closed’ systems, exclusivity and delivery pipes are what reliably generate revenue. So from AAPL’s POV this is perfectly reasonable, as shown by the selling of 100+ million iPods and 3 billion songs through the closed iPod/iTunes/iTS triad.

    I explore why those who blindly advocate ‘opening up’ right now may not be looking at a full deck of facts here:

    iPod touch nay-sayers: shackled by “gadget thinking”

    Kontra had this to say on Oct 14, 2007 Posts: 1
  • There is no simple answer. Strong arguments could be made either way as to what is about to happen.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 14, 2007 Posts: 927
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