Steve Ballmer on Zune's Future: "I Won’t Say Full Steam Ahead"

Illustration for article titled Steve Ballmer on Zunes Future: I Won’t Say Full Steam Ahead

What's the future of the Zune? It's a question that Steve Ballmer sort of answered last week. They're not abandoning it, but it doesn't look super bright and shiny, either.

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Baller said that they're "going to keep going with Zune" but "I won't say full steam ahead, because that implies acceleration of investment, but we're going to sustain our investment." He divides the Zune into two things, a service and a device, with the service spreading out in different directions. Peter Kafka paraphrases Ballmer: "We like it and the future may be the software/ecosystem on other devices."

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If Microsoft's not planning on pouring more money into Zune than already is, it means they've given up on trying to take more of the iPod's media player marketshare. At least that's how I read a standstill on development investment. Instead we'll see the Zune software spread to other devices, probably Windows Mobile phones—maybe with Windows Mobile 7—which is something we've been hearing about for a while. If the Zune software goes on, but the hardware doesn't, is Zune dead or alive? [WSJ via Zune Boards, Thanks Dave!]

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DISCUSSION

I believe that the only reason the iPod still exists is the amazing property of the generally stupid public to follow trends like lemmings. I would say 90% of my peers have iPods, and the only reason for this is that everyone else has an iPod. Given the fact that my peers are teenagers, it is right to assume that they probably received those iPods as a gift. Say hello to Apple's brilliant marketing. They have somehow convinced everyone that the iPod is the only device that will play music. Have you ever tried asking someone who owns an iPod (and has only owned an iPod) what an Mp3 player is? The blank stares you usually get will make you want to punch a baby or kick a puppy.

I have nothing against Apple as a whole. I like the iPod touch (my brother owns one), and I find it to be well designed and fun to use. I do have a problem with the click wheel though on other iPods. It is quite possibly the most frustrating thing I have ever used. Sometimes it doesn't register your thumbs frantic circular motions; other times, you end up spending 30 seconds trying to select one song since it's so damn sensitive. The Zune touch pad on the other hand is actually quite easy to use, and won't give you chronic joint pain. The Zune's GUI is also as a whole more polished and pleasing to eye (the iPod GUI is nice, but nothing special). And please, would the idiots that insist on saying the Zune is shit-brown look at the other colours available? Oh, and the 2nd Gen Zune looks pretty good, quit using the 1st Gen Zune to bash the brand.

For the record, I find iTunes to be junk. It's slow, looks horrible, and is difficult to manage your music in. The Zune software is marginally better (granted, it still has a bunch of annoying problems), and it monitors your folders, which is very convenient.

Blah blah blah, can't say much more that hasn't already been said. No one reads these anyways.

Right?