While at the Zune Media Event in Redmond on Monday, the media had some downtime between presentations, and naturally the conversation moved to Microsoft vs. Apple. The mix of bloggers, reporters and Microsoft advertorial/internal bloggers provided an interesting, if predictable dialogue. Then the convo turned to iPod vs. Zune, and the question of Zune's lack of Mac support came up. The closest anyone came to giving a good reason was suggesting Mac users bought Apple products more for the logo than the actual product, meaning they'd never abandon the iPod for a Zune. A fair point, perhaps, but a silly reason for a company to justify their lack of support for another platform. Here are a few reasons Zune should support OS X:
Tech Journalists and Reviewers Use Macs: Sure, Microsoft may not think it's profitable to develop software for a platform where users are unlikely to purchase their products, but what about drawing interest from the media? If you look around any tech media event, you're going to see more people using Macs than PCs. And sure, most, if not all, of us have both platforms running. But for those of us who use OS X as our primary OS, how many are using Zune past the initial review stage? It's more of a hassle to go back and forth between machines just to use devices, especially when it comes to the storage of media files. I think the media would be more interested in the nuances of Zune if it fit in with their daily lives.
Zune 2.0 Is a Quality Product: Pound for Pound, I'd say the Zune80 is a better product than the iPod Classic. It has a better UI, more features (hardware and software), a better platform and control mechanism for gaming, and a decent enough design. While many companies in the past have put out good MP3 players, none have hands-down outclassed the iPod. The Zune80 might be the first to challenge the supremacy of the iPod. Why not have faith that Mac users will see that?
Devices And Platforms Should Never Be Exclusive: The iPod never really took off until it began supporting Windows with it's 2G iteration. Of course, Apple had more to gain from opening up to a much, much larger Windows user base, but it never hurts to make a product more widely available to the public.
How Costly Can Mac Support Be?: Even if the number of potential Mac users who would buy Zune products is minuscule, how expensive can it be to code an app? There have been far smaller companies who have supported both platforms, and Microsoft has other Mac apps, so what gives?
All The Cool Kids Are Doing It: The iPod didn't become the de facto standard for MP3 players because of its technical prowess alone. The great white earbud craze of 2004 probably started because a handful of popular kids liked the design of the iPod a year or two earlier, which in turn made them technological tastemakers. All the kids who want to be popular generally follow along. I think it goes without saying that it's currently considered "cool" to own a Mac. Microsoft is never going to get Zunes in the hands of this group if they can't get their music on it.
It's entirely possible adding Mac support won't have a huge impact, but with open source technology and DRM-free media growing more popular by the day, giving people the freedom of platform is always good for the image.