While I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet(I’m waiting on Rhode to donate hers when she gets it), this whole Microsoft Zune thing seems like as if it was designed to be unspectacular and mediocre. Microsoft usually has a way about spewing awe, even if it’s for vaporware. For example, this Longhorn concept video, makes me want to run out and buy a copy. Why don’t I feel like that for the Zune? MacObserver is running an article with similar thoughts, and I agree that Microsoft isn’t really trying to compete here. There’s no way they can catch up with Apple’s 6-year lead instantly, so they’ve decided that they’ll simply launch a product that will dilute the market. Since the Zune looks(atleast from a distance) just like an iPod, it’s prevalence is going to take the “ooh, look he has an iPod” perception to “meh, it’s a Zune like thing; and that Zune is lame. What a loser.”. One may argue that millions of other mp3 players have not diluted iPod’s branding, but the difference is that this is Microsoft.
The next year is going to be a fun one for handheld devices. I’m saying handheld devices because I’m waiting for the real video iPod — a 9-inch UMPC tablet running a lightweight OSX — The Rebirth of the The Newton, I guess!
Update: After spending 2 minutes with Rhode’s Zune, I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really suck. It’s basically a fat iPod, a successor to the Portable Windows Media Players. The perfect analogy would be the characters from the “Hi, I’m a Mac” campaign — while the iPod is slim and suave, the Zune is quirky, plump and primitive; but definitely quite likable.