Everyone is talking about Microsoft’s Zune. Speculation abounds on how well it will or won’t do, if it will eclipse the iPod or fizzle completely. Analysis supporting success and failure focus mostly on the Zune’s own eco-system of player+store, the wireless addition (limited as it is) for social music sharing and the strict DRM components.
From where I sit, there is a piece that is strangely missing from the discussion. If the banner ads floating around Manhattan are any example, Microsoft can’t really decide what Zune is – but and they really don’t have it pegged as a social device. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s got lots of beautiful people playfully using it…. Sounds like an [substitute MP3 player of choice] to me.
The problem with Zune, and the reason v1.0 will only see moderate success is that it doesn’t add significant differentiated value via social networks and where there is the ability to leverage social networks, that ability is dramatically hobbled.
Here’s what would make it work: 1. Let me build a list of friends on my Zune and the accompanying software; 2. Let my friends send me music (over the air or wire) and do it without restriction (even between other music systems); 3. Let me use the Zune to then send tracks back (again, over the air or wire); 4. Let me browse my friend’s music, or browse their friends on my Zune and 5. download tracks on the fly.
Let me use it to build a social network within the system and leverage it for new music discovery.