Microsoft launches assault on Apple's "iPod tax"

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Microsoft is no longer content with turning up the heat against just Apple's Mac lines and has begun a new marketing campaign that attacks the perceived additional costs of filling an iPod with music versus a Zune, but one which omits key flaws in the process.



A new Zune Pass page and matching commercial from the Redmond, Washington-based Zune maker claim that loading a 120GB iPod classic with music solely from the iTunes Store would cost $29,700 where a Zune Pass unlimited subscription service would cost the same $15 per month; the difference is such that it would take 165 years of using the Zune service to match what it would take to load the iPod to the brim.



The campaign also argues that the permanent ownership of tracks is a negative, rebuffing Apple chief Steve Jobs' long-held assertion that people want to own their music instead of renting it. As iTunes shoppers have to commit to any songs they download, they can't backtrack if they decide they don't want the music they just bought. And, since subscriptions by definition encourage exploration of music that would otherwise be too prohibitive, Zune Pass members can download "whole discographies" at will rather than cherry picking individual albums or tracks, Microsoft claims.



Reinforcing the monetary focus, the company has opted out of using the 'real' people found in its Laptop Hunter ads and has instead recruited Capital Investment Advisors expert and frequent media show guest Wes Moss to push its case. He argues that it makes more sense for iTunes customers to consider a subscription service like the Zune Pass depending on the amount of music they consume.



But, similar to the thorough dissection that followed the anti-Mac ads, criticism has already emerged that accuses Microsoft of deliberately padding the actual costs of owning an iPod and using it with the iTunes Store. Variable pricing is one of the most immediate concerns. Microsoft assumes an average cost of 99 cents per song; as many albums cost $10 or less but have more than 10 tracks, the actual cost of buying songs can dip well under that amount. Changes in pricing per song also render it more difficult to calculate a final price in either direction.



As observed by many, the campaign similarly assumes that customers are bent on filling their devices to capacity and are only using sheer quantity rather than quality. It's commonly accepted that most users only buy to provide enough headroom for their own listening demands. Also, those who buy the iPod classic, 120GB Zune or other large-capacity players are more likely to have music encoded at high or even lossless quality, swelling the size of the files themselves and greatly reducing the number of songs that can fit in the available space.



The marketing push likewise sidesteps the limitations of the Zune Pass itself. Although it's now possible to keep 10 download tracks per month, most of the downloaded songs will disappear the moment the subscription ends -- leaving owners with just a fraction of what they had listened to before. Any additional songs past the first 10 also cost the same as on most other music stores and can potentially be expensive for those who plan to build large permanent music libraries.



And while all the permanent downloads come as unprotected MP3s, files downloaded as part of the subscription are locked in a Zune-specific format, forcing users to run only the Zune desktop client and use Zune players away from their PCs. The absence of a subscription option in iTunes limits iPod owners' options but also simplifies the process of leaving iTunes.







No matter the merits, Microsoft is known to be prepping more than just promotional spots to put the Zune in a new light. The company has stated it plans to introduce new players this year and may center the spotlight on the rumored Zune HD, its first touchscreen player and a response that may come two years after the iPod touch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    Microsoft also fails to acknowledge that if you're buying a 120gb ipod, you more than likely already own a bunch of music that you'll be loading on it.
  • Reply 2 of 115
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    And slacker radio is free on the iPhone and no zune version
  • Reply 3 of 115
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    I don't want a Zune but if Apple offered a similar pass scheme, I'd be all over it in a second.



    I own a large CD collection but there's no such thing as too much music - especially when I can keep 10 tracks a month.
  • Reply 4 of 115
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    [email protected]#k Microsoft.
  • Reply 5 of 115
    rnp1rnp1 Posts: 175member
    This ad is silly!!! So full of misinformation. Image, just because you have 60 gigs, you are going to only fill it with purchased songs? Let's see-I have a PC with a 120 gig drive. I'll have to spend $40 million dollars on cheap, dumb software to use it! I better buy a Mac 128K. No big drive, no big spend! Zune, Alice, Zune. Right in the kisser!

    Ballmer has nothing better to do and nothing better to sell-that Bill didn't out right steal.
  • Reply 6 of 115
    if M$ gives me Khaki Brown Zune for free. :-)
  • Reply 7 of 115
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,814member
    Who the heck plans to fill up an ipod with only music?!!



    Oh yeah, Microsoft does not consider pictures, personal files, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, audio recordings, and games as things that might be used on an ipod...



    besides, when buying a storage device we expect at least 2 to 5 gigs of free space as a safety net.
  • Reply 8 of 115
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    [email protected]#k Microsoft.



    Poetic
  • Reply 9 of 115
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    Who the heck plans to fill up an ipod with only music?!!



    Oh yeah, Microsoft does not consider pictures, personal files, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, audio recordings, and games as things that might be used on an ipod...



    besides, when buying a storage device we expect at least 2 to 5 gigs of free space as a safety net.



    Microsoft is so out of touch. I don't even consider iPods Digital Music Players ..they're Digital Media Players now. I'm always showing pictures on mine or using the address book sync.
  • Reply 10 of 115
    rnp1rnp1 Posts: 175member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    [email protected]#k Microsoft.



    That's what Microsoft does to every customer!
  • Reply 11 of 115
    terrilljaterrillja Posts: 11member
    Napster did the exact same ad maybe 5 years ago. Didn't work then, so MS thinks it will work now? No.
  • Reply 12 of 115
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by terrillja View Post


    Napster did the exact same ad maybe 5 years ago. Didn't work then, so MS thinks it will work now? No.



    LOL...Napster. Who was that idiot that worked for Napster that was high on something. He was always talking like Napster was actually relevant and competition. I'm surprised they can still keep the lights on.



    Microsoft really needs to stop thinking they can compete in anything beyond Servers and Office Suites.



    They have literally gotten their arses kicked in just about every frontal assualt they've tried. They haven't slayed a company since Netscape imploded in a fit of foolishness.
  • Reply 13 of 115
    tumme-tottetumme-totte Posts: 147member
    Microsoft - why have we bought CDs when there existed radio? Radio is free. You can't choose music, but you may change station and often enough for enough many people that is good enough. So why pay 15 bucks to own only 10 tracks (which is what remains if you o not like Zune Pass any more).



    And Microsoft has forgotten Pirate Bay! iPod works great with Pirate Bay! All for free (however legal not too sure...)
  • Reply 14 of 115
    sahajsahaj Posts: 5member
    though i loathe the ad itself, i think the approach that microsoft is taking is fairly clever. i don't think the ads will have any particular affect on the ipod/phone buyers and/or sales of zune. i don't think a large amount of people will be willing to shell out $10/month. pandora is free and does a pretty good job of letting me listen to the songs that i like, and if i don't like ads, then it's $36/year, a much better deal than $120/year.
  • Reply 15 of 115
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sahaj View Post


    though i loathe the ad itself, i think the approach that microsoft is taking is fairly clever. i don't think the ads will have any particular affect on the ipod/phone buyers and/or sales of zune. i don't think a large amount of people will be willing to shell out $10/month. pandora is free and does a pretty good job of letting me listen to the songs that i like, and if i don't like ads, then it's $36/year, a much better deal than $120/year.



    The problem is that Microsoft is speaking a half truth here.



    1. Yes it "could" cost 30 grand to fill up an iPod but when you're done you own 30 grand of music.



    2. You could fill up your Zune with music for $10 or so a month but the minute your payment lapses your bounty of music is gone.



    Yes Pandora is an excellent choice. Mucho music and no monthly fees. I'm sick of monthly monthly fees.
  • Reply 16 of 115
    I have one and its filled up half with music and half with Movies/TV Shows. TV shows on iTunes cost only $2 and take up atleast 300 mb. Many of the movies I have are ripped from DVDs I already owned. How does that factor in to the calculations? A music pass? I hate having monthly payments. What a joke.
  • Reply 17 of 115
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    These ads won't work, 1st, the average Kid can't afford to flush $14.99 a month just for music, 2nd Kids don't hold credit cards to subscribe, 3rd, Pretty much everyone already knows what happens to the music you download when you skip a monthly payment. Who the heck wants to subscribe to a $14.99 monthly service just for music in this freggin economy when you can use Pandora or bit torrent for free.
  • Reply 18 of 115
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 645member
    Heeelarious. About 80% of the music on my 20GB iPod is ripped from CD's I already own. I wish Apple would just make a statement (or a nice clever ad) about MS's ads and tell them to just give up, it aint workin Redmond.
  • Reply 19 of 115
    fx9fx9 Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    [email protected]#k Microsoft.



    i'm going to have to second this one.
  • Reply 20 of 115
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,237member
    You gotta admire the fact that they just keep slugging, no matter how lopsided the score. I don't think they honestly believe that they can overtake the iPod juggernaut to become the most popular player, but with decent devices they could stake out a modest minority position. Maybe that's enough for them to make it worthwhile. Kind of like the role Apple played for many years with it's computers. Except Apple's computers are actually better. New name for Ballmer: "Tenacious B"
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