Tech Pundits and Zune, a Look Back

Microsoft is apparently killing the Zune once and for all, according to a report out of Bloomberg earlier this week. As another tech product reaches the end of it’s lifetime, it can be fun to look back at what all the experts had to say about the original model and whether or not anything has changed, really.

Chris Pirillo
In a post on his personal blog made the day before Microsoft Zune was released in to the world, Chris indicated boldly that he would not be purchasing a Zune.

A year later, he gave a breakdown of the differences between the iPod (classic) and the Zune using his experience with his Zune as an example. At this time, the iPhone had already been released and both of these products were quickly becoming obsolete. He remarked that the larger screen was a plus as well as the FM tuner, which was added to some iPod models in future generations, but the most useful benefit to the Zune was access to a subscription service.

He noted in his blog that it’s lack of cross-platform support, podcast management, questionable battery life, and overall lack of anything “new” were clear downsides to the device.

Leo Laporte
Leo’s impressions of the Microsoft Zune became a viral sensation in the tech community, even reaching a top 10 spot on Digg. His impressions were simply that it lacked the core features that made the iPod a success. His statement that the cut of the purchase price the music industry received was an indication that the release of the Zune marked, “The day the music died” served as a bold opening to his 3-minute rant about how terrible the device truly was.

Ryan Block (Engadget)
Ryan’s comments about the Zune were pretty straightforward. The software installation process was far from flawless, battery life was lackluster, there was a lack of Mac support, and the Zune felt bulky and heavy compared to the current model iPod. The positives he noted in his review include a bigger screen, a comfortable soft finish, and a simple interface.

His review on Engadget ended with the prediction that the Zune was not enough to topple the iPod from it’s position as king of all portable media players. Five years later, his prediction has been proven accurate.

Overall, it would appear that the general response from tech enthusiasts and pundits at the time were that the Zune itself was too little, too late. While the device certainly exceeded expectations by grabbing a 9% market share the first month of release, its rapid decline shortly after and lackluster sales for the past five years have done little to encourage confidence in the Zune brand.

Did Microsoft pay attention to what their customers and reviews thought? Changes to the device over time would indicate that their attention was on trying to be something more like the iPod and less about what made it unique. Whether or not spending more time concentrating on these defining features would have made a difference in this product’s success is a mystery we will sadly never uncover.

What started as a fresh take on the idea of portable media, featuring concepts like subscription-based music and a more social way to think about your portable media player has ended up another footnote in the history of tech.

Bloomberg – Microsoft Is Said to Stop Releasing New Models of the Zune
Chris Pirillo – I’m Not Buying a Zune
Chris Pirillo – Zune: Good and Bad
Chris Pirillo – Apple iPod vs Microsoft Zune
Engadget – Installing the Zune…Sucked
Engadget – Zune Review

3 comments On Tech Pundits and Zune, a Look Back

  • If you think that DirectTV cancellation was a problem, don’t even THINK of ever subscribing to DISH network. They make it so easy to originally subscribe (really, a pleasure), but cancellation is next to impossible. Not only do they make promises that they don’t keep (publically advertised and on their website, too, promises) but they absolutely certainly don’t keep promises that they make when you ATTEMPT to cancel. They keep you on hold white pushing you UP to higher level administrators and they, too, make it difficult, and push you up, again, to still higher administrators, giving you the idea that they don’t believe that ANYONE would ever WANT to cancel. Finally, in exasperation, I not only followed up my cancellation with an email confirming it and an email to my credit card company to also tell of the concellation and instructing them to refuse further charges from DISH. Well, THAT should have done it. However, DISH not only continued to bill for months afterwards (even though the credit card company DID NOT accept or pay the charges) and DISH went on for years (yes, I mean and meant “years”) of getting a succession of “debt collectors” to continue to threaten legal action if I did not pay. DISH is the worst supplier of ANYTHING that I’ve ever come across in my entire lifetime.

  • What is the deal with the return box? i bought my Sat receivers off ebay dirt cheep. No return and if I cancel I can just put them up on ebay for some extra WAM

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Ryan Matthew Pierson