Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Microsoft Zune - Plays for sure??

I have been reading a lot of the hype about Microsoft's new iPod competitor, the Zune. My first reaction was when I heard about the colors it will be available in - Black, White and Brown. Microsoft is really demonstrating their understanding of the youth market with their fashionable choice of colors - NOT! One area I need to delve in to in more depth is all the rumors circulating about the Digital Rights Management. Microsoft's moves in this area seem to be less about competing with the iPod and more about crippling their partners. I was reading Michael Kwan's analysis in Mobile Magazine and was caught by the statement:
a new PlaysForSure DRM to accompany, rendering this player useless to Napster and other download service users
Does this mean that the current "Plays For Sure" program is going to be renamed "Plays for Sure - Sort of"? The other concern is the WiFi capability and the addition of DRM controls to any music that is streamed to other Zune owners. At the very least this should be a feature that users should be able to control. The prospects for the Zune do not look great. The likelihood is that the player will cannibalize sales from existing Microsoft partners. The steps we have seen taken so far look likely to result in further fracturing of the non-iPod marketplace. Microsoft seems to be demonstrating their understanding of network dynamics and the architecture of community in their moves with the Windows Live platform. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to have extended in to the Entertainment & Devices Division that is developing Zune. Time will tell.

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