Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Happy Birthday / Sad Launch

:-) Karen's 40th
I'd like to wish my lovely wife Karen a very happy 40th birthday today. She opened all her presents a couple of hours ago and is thrilled with them all, including three pieces of Tiffany jewellery and a new mobile phone. Now relaxing in front of the TV after a dinner of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, so you'll excuse me if I nod off in a mo...zzzzz

:-( Microsoft's attempt to muscle in on digital music
Today also marks the launch of the Zune digital media player by Microsoft; a device that many people in the consumer electronics press are dubbing the "iPod killer".

Microsoft and I do not get on, as most people who know me will tell you; I do like to rant on about their monopolistic practices, and reliance on advertising dollars and marketing muscle to shore up a mediocre product. I am concerned that, with Zune, Microsoft may be in a position to hurt Apple's position as leader in the digital music player market, and I do not think they deserve to succeed in that endeavour. Now, the Zune may well be a great new product; I haven't bothered to research it well enough to judge, but that's not the point. If any company other than Microsoft brought out a music player to rival the iPod I would be all in favour of letting market forces do their job, and may the best man win. When the rival is Microsoft, however, the game changes. All of a sudden, the new contender does not necessarily have to win on features, design aesthetic or usability; just because it's a Microsoft product it gets a leg-up on the ladder to success, much like the spoilt brat kids of well-to-do families have an automatic advantage over "the rest of us".
You may be thinking of buying a digital music player for Christmas; either for yourself or for a loved one. All I would ask is that you do not buy Zune JUST because it is from Microsoft. That is how they've got to the undeserved position they hold in the market today. Instead, compare products feature by feature, compare design, compare usability and overall user experience. If the Zune still wins after all that, then I have lost my argument and would stand aside while you go and buy one, but I don't think I'll lose. Apple's iPods have iconic status in the design world, they are reliable, good value for money, and the iTunes Music Store provides a fair, customer-friendly way to buy music on-line.

Apple deserves top slot in this market -- Microsoft does not.

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