I've been excitedly yet quietly waiting for Microsoft's mp3 player The Zune to be launched. Tomorrow is the big launch day, and I will not be buying one. As recent as last week, my plan was to be an early adopter and be one of the first to have a Zune. Those plans have changed. It's not just the poor reviews it's received, or the fact that Microsoft is preventing such reviews from being made. It's not that I'm an Apple fanboy, because I have two Windows machines and no Macs, though I do have an iPod. My iPod is starting to show it's age, though, so I do consider myself in the market for a new mp3 player. Here I will list my pros and cons of the Zune and hopefully my reasons for not standing in line to be an early adopter will ring clear.
1. Screen Size - I really like the size of the screen and the idea of turning it on it's side to gain the video perspective.
2. Microsoft - Say what you will about them (and every time I say something about them, I hear about it in the comments), they have the ability to make great products that people enjoy. I also think the potential for integration with Windows Vista should be positive.
3. FM Radio - Believe it or not, despite my addiction to podcasts, there's a time and a place for some FM, though I doubt it would help in the FM blackhole that is Dublin, California.
4. WiFi Enabled - The capabilities are limited to sharing songs amongst Zunes, but I can see updates down the road making their marketplace show up wherever you go.
5. Comes with Content - Some great songs and videos that the casual consumer might not be exposed to normally.
1. Podcasting - I know it's rumored to be something eventually integrated into the Zune, but at this point, they just haven't put any effort into it.
2. Hard Drive - For some reason, the Zune doesn't mount as a portable hard drive.
3. Size Options - Although I think 30 GB is the perfect size for me, I imagine there are plenty of consumers out there that look at the 80 GB iPod video vs. the 30 GB Zune and think bigger is better.
4. Timing - Apple launched the iPod in October of 2001, it was 5 GB and cost $400. With a five year head start, the iPod has and an insurmountable market share and a brand so recognized, any other MP3 player has been considered at best second class. Five years after the party started, I don't say that Microsoft is just late to the party, but they are late with what seems to be an incomplete product.
5. Zune Marketplace - Nothing compares to iTunes or the iTunes music store. It's smooth, easy, it makes sense, it operates in currency with real time billing: The Zune marketplace promises to be confusing and quirky and...
Saying that I will not be an early adopter of the Zune, I am not saying I will never adopt. As I did with XP and the iPod and many other products, I will wait Microsoft to adapt and evolve based on their reviews and criticisms. The positive thing is, and we've seen this from Apple, they have the ability to make updates to the not only the software that runs on the Zune, but also to the Zune Marketplace. Remember it wasn't too long ago that iTunes released a stinker of a version of iTunes. For now I will keep my eye on the 30 GB iPod if mine continues to struggle.