There is No iPod, Only Zune

So now Microsoft is in the iPod killing business. Details are starting to come out about their upcoming line of digital audio players called Zune. I'll let you catch up on the details if needed over at Engadget. I want to get right to why I'd care.

Getting me to switch away from iPods is no easy task. My iPods are part of my daily life now. I have one near me pretty much wherever I am. It's not just the hardware. It's iTunes. It's the iTunes Music Store. It's the availability of accessories. It's the experience.

So what would it take for me to ditch the 'pod and get with the Zune? I'll give you a list.

  1. Gapless Playback - I'll keep saying it until they give it to me. Don't try and tell me about Rockbox or 0 second crossfades. I want true gapless playback, just as if I were playing the CD and I don't want to hack anything to do it.

  2. Battery Life - No, I'm not unhappy with the iPod battery life. I find it to be quite adequate for most uses, but I always want more, MORE! Oh, and you can't make the device any bigger than an iPod. Smaller, smaller, please.

  3. Player to computer sync - Read that closely. I want to be able to use the player as the source to sync. This means I could transfer music on to another one of my computers without some middleman harddrive. The music player is the middleman harddrive. It's completely possible to do it today. There are plenty of 3rd party apps to allow it. The only reason Apple itself doesn't allow it is the copyright argument.
    My friends and I were discussing this the other day. If anything, the DRM'd music should absolutely be allowed to be pulled from the music player to another computer. You can't play the DRM'd music without a proper registration right? Right! So, what's the harm in allowing it. Only authorized users can listen anyway.
    I doubt Microsoft will leave DRM out. That just won't happen. However, they do have the opportunity to make it even less intrusive than Apple's already reasonable uses.

  4. More selection in their music store - Don't get me wrong, the selection in the iTMS is great and getting better everyday, but it still doesn't have everything that I can find in some other online music stores, like Beatport. The other biggie would be unsigned music. I want to upload my latest creation and sell it in their store. I can sort of do this today in the iTMS through places like CD Baby, but why do I need that service taking their cut? If Microsoft can find a way to ink deals to cover all of that music too, they gain some points in my book.

  5. Uncompressed downloads - Let me burn my disk space, please. I don't want stuff that sounds like the CD. I want stuff that is the CD.

  6. Pitch control - This is a selfish one. I want to be able to use my music player as a DJing source. The only way that can happen is if I can adjust the playback speed to allow beatmatching. Things like key lock and original pitch snap back would be appreciated as well. Heck, just give me a DJ mode where the scroll wheel becomes a scrub wheel by default.

  7. Increased meta-data viewing and editing - I want to add notes to files. Example, a setlist from a live DJ recording. I want to add meta data on the fly, like marking files I want to delete, or maybe blog about later. Right now, I have to do silly star ratings hacks to accomplish this. I know the interface is not ideal, but figure something out.

  8. Wireless - The WiFi rumors are interesting. Hopefully Microsoft enables some peer to peer streaming. Ideally, I want Bluetooth. A2DP, sync, I've covered all of that before.

  9. Run code on the device - I saved the best for last. Here is where Microsoft can step things up. They have years of experience in their CE and Windows Mobile operating systems. I sure hope they use that experience here. I'm not saying I want Pocket Word on my music player, but having the ability to run my own apps that also run on a PDA is killer. The development environments already exist. From day 1, I could develop apps to leverage the wireless in the device. I could write a Bluetooth phone dialer. I could make my own album art display system or visualizations. I could add in those things they leave out, like DJ pitch control :) Microsoft has a huge advantage over Apple here.

For what it's worth, I like the Zune design show above. It's clean. It's simple. It doesn't have words all over the front! Ahhh, refreshing. Sort of like the iPod :)


Thelonious said...


I think you fall on the high end of the music consumer spectrum. And how much would you pay for a device that gives you all (or most) of your wish list?

Ray said...

I saw a picture online this morning of Bill Gates hawking this toy-


-and instantly blurted out the same Ghostbuster reference that you did. (He even looks like Rick Moranis, dontcha think?) Congratulations on beating me to it by about five months.

(My Blogger site's just a parking space for now; mind if I try RSSing yours onto the page I usually read?)

---ryan said...

Thanks for the comment Ray. What page do you usually read? :)