Briefly: Reflections on some time spent with Zune

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
After having run smack into a Zune beta tester, one AppleInsider correspondent recently had the opportunity to toy with a pre-production unit of the much-hyped iPod rival.



Though the correspondent's session ended abruptly (with the Zune's battery running out of juice), he found the device to be a viable attempt at the iPod with some glaring pitfalls.



Some key take-aways from the hands-on session with Zune follow:



Operating System: The primary Zune menu includes "Music," "Video," "Photos," a few other typical options, and "Community."* Under "Community," there is a submenu with several of options, including one for nearby Zunes (and it appears as if users can also exchange messages with nearby Zune users).*



The Zune's software interface is laid out in such a way that it prompts the user to make a selection from a vertically listed main menu. It then displays a horizontal menu across the top of the screen, which comes off as "a bit clunky."



Mechanics: Zune's circle navigational mechanism is only responsive to clicks and is not scrollable (because Microsoft does not hold the patent on such functionality). *"While my fingers intuitively wanted to scroll, I kept having to click up/down/right/left and found this frustrating," the correspondent said.



Battery: According to the tester provided with the Zune, its battery*is far less robust than the iPod's. However, Microsoft has reportedly vouched to make improvements to this area in future versions of the device. Ironically, the battery died during the correspondent's hands-on session.



Casing: The Zune -- at least in pre-production form -- is enclosed by a "sort of hard rubber (not quite plastic) material" that appears to be somewhat durable.* "However, the whole unit was rather thick in my opinion; certainly thicker than our latest iPods," the correspondent said.



Marketing: Finally, it appears that Microsoft is attempting to swipe a page from Apple's marketing prowess -- on the rear of each Zune, in small inscription on the bottom next to the serial number, is a message: "Hello from Seattle."



Zune, which comes with 30GB of storage, will retail for $249.99 (about 99 cents more than the iPod) when it goes on sale Nov. 14. Similarly, songs will be available for download from Microsoft's Zune Marketplace service for about 99 cents a song, on par with prices at Apple's iTunes.



Although the iPod rival is somewhat bulky and lacking in appeal, analysts believe it is likely to see "some modest success" due to Microsoft's vast resources and its willingness to take a loss with each unit it sells. It's estimated the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will incur an approximate $50 operating loss on each Zune.



Sources in the far east have indicated that Microsoft hopes to sell as many as 3 million of the devices between Nov. 14 and the time Christmas rolls around in late December.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,755member
    Holi scroll-wheeli!



    Not interested...
  • Reply 2 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider


    Sources in the far east have indicated that Microsoft hopes to sell as many as 3 million of the devices between Nov. 14 and the time Christmas rolls around in late December.



    3million??



  • Reply 3 of 115
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    3 million seems pretty damn optimistic, even if they're able to pull out a sharp, pervasive (and incredibly expensive) ad campaign.



    A million or less sounds far more realistic (assuming they sort out the battery issue). I'm sure there's people out there eager to buy anything but an iPod, but that's not going to be a large number... especially with this 1G model.
  • Reply 4 of 115
    In other words, they're hoping to lose $150 million by Christmas
  • Reply 5 of 115
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    ^^^ Exactly.



    They're set to lose far more than the operating loss per Zune, of course. There's also the R&D... plus the tens (hundreds?) of millions for the advertising/marketing campaign. It's really quite stunning.
  • Reply 6 of 115
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    In other news: If those very recent rumors about the True Video iPod due any day now are true, then don't expect Microsoft to have the gadget in every kids and adults dreams this Christmas.
  • Reply 7 of 115
    They should call Zune, Poon. That way, the geeks that'll actually buy this crap can try to get "some" via Zune's Community function.
  • Reply 8 of 115
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,720member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hobbes


    They're set to lose far more than the operating loss per Zune, of course. There's also the R&D... plus the tens (hundreds?) of millions for the advertising/marketing campaign.



    I believe that "operating loss" includes R&D, and possibly marketing. The operating loss is only an estimate because the precise loss per unit depends on how many units they sell.



    It's along the lines of the fact that whilst the iPod's parts cost about 50% of the retail price, Apple's "operating margin" is around 10%.
  • Reply 9 of 115
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    Ah, I see. That's a little less insane, at least.
  • Reply 10 of 115
    why all the fuss about zune? this should be the one people are talking about!



  • Reply 11 of 115
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    How about no.
  • Reply 12 of 115
    It's the lack of attention to detail that gets me about Microsoft products.



    I have a Windows Mobile 5.0 based phone and while it seems nice on the surface, once you actually start using it, it's like someone hitting your thumb with a hammer when you want to do something.



    Little things like the fact they have white text, but have a default background which has a very light blue patch up where the time is displayed, so it's hard to read. A philosophy that requires 10 "wizard style" dialogs where 3 taps would suffice, the way Palm OS did it when they were still viable.



    I can imagine the Zune's similar: flashy in the shop, but a pain after a few weeks of use.



    Of course, looking flashy in the shop will help them sell.
  • Reply 13 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Catman4d2


    why all the fuss about zune? this should be the one people are talking about!







    Personally i like the Rover Tv except for the whole flash card memory.... Apple let us down at this last keynote as far as the main iPod goes. We all wanted and thought we were getting horizontal iPod with on screen click wheel. Instead we got a larger size (which is nice) and a brighter screen. A let down if you ask me.
  • Reply 14 of 115
    "Hello from Seattle."



    Gotta give it to them: That's freakin' cute!



    I saw this thing and it's not horrible. It's no iPod, but it's definitely not horrible. I actually dig the brown (though I think it'd look much better as a brushed aluminum case instead of... whatever it's made of.)



    It's pretty polarizing, though. You either love it or hate it.



  • Reply 15 of 115
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    I wouldn't take the Zune too lightly, Apple made that mistake before and it almost cost them everything. I have to admit the free downloads for songs you bought from iTunes deal kinda scares me.
  • Reply 16 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BenRoethig


    I wouldn't take the Zune too lightly, Apple made that mistake before and it almost cost them everything. I have to admit the free downloads for songs you bought from iTunes deal kinda scares me.





    I thought that was a hoax.
  • Reply 17 of 115
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BenRoethig


    I wouldn't take the Zune too lightly, Apple made that mistake before and it almost cost them everything.



    Where did Apple make such a mistake before? With the Macintosh? Are you implying that the Macintosh, or the Apple II, had a dominating market position like the iPod does now? Because?*they never did.
  • Reply 18 of 115
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rawhead


    I thought that was a hoax.



    It was a rumor-turned-alleged-fact. So, yeah, pretty much a hoax.
  • Reply 19 of 115
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Catman4d2


    why all the fuss about zune? this should be the one people are talking about!







    It looks like a stripped down PSP.
  • Reply 20 of 115
    flounderflounder Posts: 2,674member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BenRoethig


    I wouldn't take the Zune too lightly, Apple made that mistake before and it almost cost them everything. I have to admit the free downloads for songs you bought from iTunes deal kinda scares me.



    That was a totally unfounded rumor, from my understanding.
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