The Zune.

I really really wanted the Zune to be outstanding. I wanted the press to get a hold of it and actually dub it the device that will dethrone the iPod. This has not happened. It hasn’t necessarily gotten bad reviews, it is just good. I was actually a little bit puzzled that my fellow Mac fanboys do not share my disappointment that the Zune was not the iPod killer.

Why do I want the Zune to be amazing? It is quite simple actually. If Microsoft made a product that the media was raving over, what would Apple do? They would make the iPod better by leaps and bounds. Apple wouldn’t sit around as their “golden child” got trampled by a competitor, they would go out and make it regain its throne. I am not saying that I am not satisfied with the iPod by any means, I just think that Apple can do better. I feel like they have a lot of cool things that they are planning to do with it but are holding out so they can release it in a steady stream and gain more revenue. This isn’t wrong from a corporate standpoint, but it doesn’t really benefit me the consumer.

So far it seems like the Zune isn’t necessarily bad, it just has some broken features. The biggest example is the wifi. It is an excellent idea but the limitations cripple it. I understand that the restrictions are in place to keep the record labels happy, but I believe that they could have made the restrictions a little more laid back. Also it could have been made a little bit more viral, they could have allowed you to re-share songs. That ways if “friend A” gives me a song that I like then I can pass it to “friend B” so that he can get a taste of it as well. Also it would have been neat if they could not only have done sharing but also a broadcasting type of thing. This way if you and your buddies are taking the train or something somewhere you could all tune into one Zune as if it were a radio station. One major thing that the Zune is lacking is Podcast support. I am a huge fan of podcasts and believe they are an excellent source of entertainment. The mere fact that the Zune does not support podcasts is a deal breaker for me.

Overall I think it is a good thing that the Zune has come in to battle the iPod, it will help force Apple’s hand to put more neat idea’s into the iPod. I am hoping that they incorporate the wifi functionality except do it better and hopefully include what I said above. Also, Apple could adopt a better interface to compete with the one on the Zune. I like the minimalistic one but it is starting to show its age. The form factor of the iPod is fantastic. I don’t want them to change the metallic back and polycarbonate front that they have used for so long. They can change up the screen layout and do some interesting stuff with the clickwheel, but in general I want it to remain the same. The last main difference means very little to me and I think that Apple’s approach is the better one. That is the built in FM tuner. I don’t need to have radio on my iPod and would personally like it to stay the way it is without it. Apple offers the FM radio add-on for those who want it and I think that is the way it should stay. That way people that want it can have it and it doesn’t add bulk to the iPod for those of us who don’t need it.

Overall I think it is good that the Zune has been brought into the market. It will force Apple to keep innovating and make the iPod better. As always, Arstechnica has done an outstanding job reviewing the Zune. You can find their review here.