Giz Interview: J Allard Calls iPod the Pong of Digital Audio (Snap!)

We called up J Allard today to get him to spill the rest of the Zune enchillada. Like our obsession with Steve Jobs, cousin gaming site Kotaku can't stop thinking about Allard. Brian Ashcraft wanted us to ask him questions like, "If Microsoft was a World of Warcraft guild, what class would you be? " We're not fanboys, but have to admit, you have to be a pretty dreamy rad guy to have eboy do pixel art of you.

But we only had a few minutes, and decided to squeeze some more Zune info out of him, including well as the choice quote we've put in the headline. (We're no newspaper jerks, so I'll tell you he didn't mean it in a bad way.) Man, is that guy good at doing the hypnotic PR speak. The uncrackable egg! Here's the transcript, minus the fluff:

Giz: Why should iPod users switch to a Zune?
J Allard:The wrong consumer to start with is...

(Jump!)

the one who says "You'll take my ipod from my cold clammy hands."
People love their social networks, though. If they're over email, IM, or on the web, it's integrated into their lives. We want to bring that to portable music. Digital music is far front done. Ipod is the Pong of digital music. Let's take it to the next level. And connected is what its all about.

The other thing is video. It's a much more inclusive part of people's life. Especially tail end video [referring to Wired and Chris Anderson's Long Tail theories]. How do we bring that to pockets? Oh yes: People said we want a bigger screen [than the ipod].

Giz: OK, if I'm using a Zune, am I really going to troll Wifi for other people's music? What is that going to do for battery life?
J Allard:It's a tough problem, and we're not done with it yet. What we have is different power modes. Oversimplifying, we have a beacon mode that says "I'm around." The next level that uses more power says "hey, I want to do something, and share, whether that's music, photos."

Giz: I heard you're a Snowcrash fan. You're obviously inspired by Sci Fi. Any other concepts from author Neal Stephenson's books that you'd like to see implemented at any point in zune?
J Allard:The metaverse is far from being built. The opportunity for connected communities in games, music has a long way to go.
Sure, new Zune devices will come. They'll be fun, they'll be exciting. But like Xbox, we're going to keep adding features to the core idea. We're just scratching the surface with the WiFi and peer-to-peer connectivity. Put WiFi in, start with one or two scenarios that users will understand. A few times a year, we'll update the firmware, and let consumers do new and exciting things.

Giz: You have a track record for Cool at Microsoft. And the Kotaku guys, they practically stalk you. So, indulge us with some fantasies. Suppose you're in charge of the company. What would you do differently.

J Allard:I wouldn't change much. There are already bright, passionate people at Microsoft who understand digital music, and games, and who are tired of seeing complacency...Maybe I'd hire a bodyguard. The Kotaku stalking thing is kind of creepy.

J Allard is a big shot at Microsoft, with the official title of "Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA Architect." To us, he's the guy that woke up Microsoft to things like, um, the INTERNET. And the man who convinced Billy G. to go ahead with the Xbox. Here's a great profile of him, from Wired.