Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Zune attempts to steal Apple's thunder

With Apple about to launch something-or-other at today's Let's Rock event - an iPod with spaceflight capabilities, a MacBook that folds into an actual leopard, a phone that works properly - Microsoft aren't sitting back and taking it. They're taking the battle to Apple. Power-ups for the Zune all round.

Maybe that was what the Seinfeld advert was actually meant to be advertising?

A press release clatters in, announcing, erm, something:

The Zune Social online music community. Customers can connect with millions of like-minded fans and share music via the Zune Card, a real-time playlist of each user's favorite and recently played tracks that can be accessed on the Web or within the Zune software, or synced to the Zune device. Zune Pass subscribers can play full tracks from Zune Cards synced to their device while on the go, and now the playlists will even automatically update with the most recently played tracks when Zune connects to a wireless hot spot. It's like subscribing to a free feed of music from the sources people trust most -- their friends.

Clear, huh? There's a wi-fi updated subscriber pass with a real-time playlist and... um, something. I think it's basically a bit like last.fm but on the player.

I love that bit about "the sources people trust most" - it's music, not investment advice. You might meet a bloke in the pub who says "trust me, try Dumpy's Rusty Nuts" and you could sample his advice without risking your house, your life, your sanity. Well, not your house or life anyway.

And isn't the model for most music recommendation systems now based on 'people who like music similar to your tastes also like this' rather than 'your friends like this, so will you' - after all, friendship is no guarantor of similar music taste, is it? There are people I love and would fight for, but they like Oasis. I'd no more want their Zune streaming over my wi-fi than I would want to lick a stranger's ears.

Zune is also promising "powerful software":
The Zune PC software is a free download at http://www.zune.net that provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to help consumers make the most of their existing music collections, in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace so they can add to it.

Blimey - let's hope that powerful software doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Can you imagine what the Chinese might do if they got hold of that? Other than for the purposes of manufacturing the Zune.

And there's also this:
Customers can select an artist, album or Zune Card to activate a dynamic, visual mosaic of related music and listeners. With each click users can take the view in a new direction, creating a fun, graphical way to discover new music. Mixview works with users' current collection of music, in addition to tracks and albums from across the Zune Marketplace.

At long last - someone's decided to make music fun. Thank God.

Well, with this dynamic mosaic and powerful software that's a bit like iTunes, Microsoft have really raised the bar. I'm given to understand a visibly-shaken Steve Jobs was heard shouting "well, can we make a peach coloured iPod? They haven't done a peach one..."

1 comment:

Olive said...

It's like subscribing to a free feed of music from the sources people trust most -- their friends.

Wow. Because up until now there was no way of getting songs that you liked on your friend's player onto your own. Oh, wait...

By the way, did you hear about that guy who had himself tattooed with Zune logo(s)? He's decided to have them removed because he think that MS don't respect the fans of the player.

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