Apparently, Microsoft is now running commercials claiming that it would cost $30,000 to fill an iPod, but that a Zune Pass only costs $14.99 a month. If you’re not familiar with the Zune Pass, it’s a subscription model for music. Essentially, you pay for a subscription and can listen to any music that you want. That model is in ways better than the “buy a song, keep a song” model, which is better than the “buy a CD with 12 songs, 11 of which totally suck, in order to get one good song” model we followed previously. Of course, that model is bad in the way that once you stop your subscription, it all goes away. Supposedly you can keep 10 songs per month.
Microsoft created it's own competitor to the iPod, known as the Microsoft Zune. I think it came out in 2007. At one point, I briefly considered it but then I got an iPod Touch. From what I hear, the Zune does have better battery life than a video iPod. After the frustrations that led me to dump Windows Mobile for the iPhone, I'm not going to consider a mobile device with Microsoft's name on it any time soon. The Zune is made mostly in-house though. I'm sure the hardware is made with communist child slave labor like the iPod, but the software integration is done at Microsoft.
I'm not trying to bash Microsoft just because they're Microsoft. I use Windows and Microsoft Office. I think there are some things that Microsoft does well, but digital media is not on that list. I've never believed that Microsoft has a grasp of reality in digital media. Windows Media Player is a classic example. It's huge, slow, bloated, non-intuitive, can't do simple tasks easily, still has no podcatcher (which is a component that can subscribe to and download podcasts), and when I get a new computer, I install VLC Media Player right away so I don't have to deal with WMP.
I've long since believed that Microsoft thinks it's digital media consumer is one of those gyrating silhouettes from the older iPod commercials. Not everybody using an iPod listens to that kind of music. Listening to music on my iPhone is more of an afterthought. I normally listen to podcasts on my iPhone. I only listen to music when my wife and kids are in the car with me, because nobody else wants to listen to John C. Dvorak, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Chuck Colson, Mark Driscoll, David Allen, or any of the other podcasts I subscribe to. There was a time when I might have stuck with Microsoft if they'd included a podcatcher in WMP at that critical moment. But, when I started really getting into podcasts, WMP couldn't handle it, so I went with iTunes. Then, when WMP couldn't transfer my podcasts to my Windows Mobile device (the capability is there, but never worked for me on any computer I tried), I went with an iPod because iTunes automatically syncs my library. Then it was only natural to go with an iPod Touch, then an iPhone. I hate to sound like an Apple cliched fanboi, but "It just works".
Obviously, Microsoft is selling enough Zunes to keep the program alive. I still don't think they understand digital media though.If you happen to see one of these commercials, just remember: don't believe everything you see on TV.