Side of the Zune
Over the past week, a couple of things have happened in the
information world that are much less important that most of
the media would have you believe.
The first is the over-hyped release of Zune, Microsoft’s attempt
to unseat Apple in the digital-music world. The media catchphrase
for Zune has been “The iPod Killer,” and on the day of its
release the headlines screamed things like “Microsoft takes
a bite out of iPod!!!”
Rubbish. Let me start by saying that I don’t own an iPod.
Years of playing rock & roll without ear protection has
severely compromised my hearing, and the last thing I need
is tinny, compressed music being mainlined into my inner ear.
So what I am about to relate is based on a survey of the literature,
not personal experience.
It appears that Zune is DOA. Bigger and heavier than the biggest
iPod, it apparently doesn’t offer much in the way of improvement
over the sleek, iconic frontrunner. I guess the video screen
is a little bigger, which might be a boon for those who think
that viewing movies on a calling-card-sized screen is a fun
thing to do. The user interface is reportedly OK, but not
as seamless and intuitive as the iPod’s. The Zune is available
in white, black, and . . . brown? Brown? To paraphrase
a great man, brown Zunes don’t make it.
The biggest “innovation” the Zune boasts is the “sharing”
function. If you’ve got your Zune nearby somebody else with
a Zune, you can send and receive songs from the other person.
Freakin’ awesome, dude! And you know the really cool thing
about Zune’s sharing function? When somebody sends you a song,
you can listen to it three whole times or keep it in your
Zune for three whole days! Then the song disappears!
My 2-year-old MacBook has a wireless music-sharing function
in it. And when I get somebody else’s music, it’s mine forever.
Then there’s the Zune store, called the Zune Marketplace,
which you can try to find by going to Zune.net. Apparently
Microsoft didn’t have enough money to wrangle Zune.com from
somebody currently using the site to provide the world with
this message: Listado de directorio denegado Este directorio
virtual no permite listar contenidos.)
The text descriptions of what goes on at the Zune Marketplace
are classic and sickening examples of mind-addled ad-agency
cretins trying to sound snappy and hip. You know how, at some
public events, they have this annoying system where you can’t
just go buy a beer, but you have to stand in line and buy
tickets, then stand in line again to buy your beer with the
tickets? Same thing here: To buy music, you first have to
buy “Microsoft Points” and then buy music with your “points.”
But your “points” are wicked cool because “Microsoft Points
. . . is [sic] a system that works across borders, including
Xbox Live® Marketplace and other Microsoft properties.” Good
Lord, I’m trembling with excitement. Can you say Limewire?
Sure you can.
Finally, all of this nonsense will never overcome the iPod’s
cache, Apple’s coolness factor, that whole John-Hodgman-vs.-the-skinny-dude-who-looks-like-Jimmy-Fallon
thing. Apple rocks; Microsoft doesn’t. As if this isn’t self-evident,
Microsoft already has issued updates for the software that
you have to download into your Zune to get it to work right,
which raises the specters of corrupted file messages, SP/2,
frozen programs, and blue screens of death.
Preliminary reports show that the Zune is moving slowly. Duh!
In other news, Universal Music Group sued MySpace for copyright
infringement, claiming MySpace is responsible for its users’
posting of Universal-owned video and music on individual MySpace
pages. Twenty-five years ago, Universal honcho Doug Morris
turned down a certain rock band that I know something about,
and then refused to give the band its demo tape back because
the band was Morris’ kids’ favorite band. He hasn’t gotten
any brighter in the intervening years. It’s an idiotic lawsuit,
as MySpace is generally protected under copyright laws if
it removes offending material on demand, which it does. What’s
more, kids decorating their MySpace pages with images and
music of their favorite bands is something Morris should be
happy about. But then, here’s a guy who recently said iPod
owners were all thieves and thinks that suing his own customers
makes business sense.
These days, you don’t have to fight the power. The power is
eating itself. And it’s great to watch it all fall apart.