Dell Goes After Some Zing

Illustration for article titled Dell Goes After Some Zing

Dell announced today that it's acquiring Zing in order "to continue improving the entertainment experiences it provides its customers." The short, vague announcement (check it post-jump) is a bit surprising because Zing's bread and butter is Wi-Fi music players (Sansa Connect, Sirius Stiletto, Pandora's Wi-Fi player), and Dell hasn't really had much luck with portable music devices. Does this mean Dell's getting back into the game? Not to stoke the fire too much, but it would be sort of a pointless acquisition if they weren't, wouldn't it?

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DELL PLANS TO ACQUIRE ZING SYSTEMS INC. ROUND ROCK, Texas, August 6, 2007 — Dell announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held ZING Systems Inc., a consumer technology and services company that focuses on always-connected audio and entertainment devices. In a move that reflects the renewed interest and energy being directed at its Consumer business, Dell plans to use ZING and its capabilities to continue improving the entertainment experiences it provides its customers.

Terms were not disclosed, and the purchase will not be final until all closing conditions are met.

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DISCUSSION

Unfortunately, being better than the iPod is only half the battle. There have been plenty of MP3 players that have been on the market that are, arguably, better than the iPod. However, none of them have even cracked the armor of the Apple fortress.

Apple not only has a very good product, they also have a brand recognition level that trumps any competition that may actually be a better product. Think about the core things that the iPod is missing: Easily swappable battery, FM tuner, voice recording, widescreen display, etc.. There is some pretty excellent competition out there that has these things, plus is an outstanding music player.

I know some will say 'it is iTunes' — but, frankly, that is hogwash. In fact, if it were not for the iPod, very few people would use iTunes. Certainly, the way they connect seemlessly is part of the attraction — but, even that is sometimes a big negative. (Ever seen someone with a 50 gig music collection connect a 30 gig iPod to their system, and heard their amazing rant when they find out the system is automatically trying to copy over the entire collection? Or how about when said 50 gig music collection owner gets an upgrade notice on a weekly basis from iTunes, and then it proceeds to spend two days putting in 'gapless' crap and other 'upgrades'.)

All of which is to say that Dell could use Zing to create the best MP3 player ever made, but it will not be enough. They also need seemless software integration, great advertising, and — most importantly — their product needs to be the thing all the kids want. How do they do that?

"Dude, you're getting a Zing!"