Coolfer has an interesting post this morning, responding to Peter Kafka's suggestion that it's getting too hard to buy music because fewer retailers are stocking CDs. I think Kafka's confusing cause and effect--if retailers were still making lots of money on Britney and Rihanna, CDs would be sold front and center. But regardless of the chicken-and-egg question, Coolfer makes the very good point that most music purchasers don't seek out music and aren't willing to sift through the racks at their local record stores, but rather pick up a CD as an impulse buy on … Read more
My Zune 80 hasn't left my side since December of 2007, after it successfully lured me from my trusty fifth-generation iPod. I invested in the Zune because I wanted to know how the other half lived (or more accurately, the other 4 percent), but the Zune's larger screen, bold user interface, podcast integration, and Zune Pass subscription service didn't hurt, either.
A few weeks passed and I was hooked on the Zune and the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass music subscription. I bought a 4GB Zune for my wife, invested in a Zune Home A/V dock to connect to my home stereo system, and even set up my PC to sync with my Zune wirelessly. Like any new romance, there were some initial hiccups--in this case, buggy software; mismatched album art; music that wouldn't delete; and broken subscription tracks. Eventually, though, I worked out the kinks, and the latest software and firmware upgrades have made life with the Zune experience much better.
There's just one thing: I'm lonely. Hundreds of iPod owners join me on the subway every day--even a few folks playing music on their Blackberries--but I seldom see a Zune. It's my job to help people decide what kind of MP3 player they should buy, but I still wonder if I made the wrong decision buying a Zune. Why can't this MP3 player get any traction?
There's no magic bullet that will make the Zune an instant success. I think Microsoft has the right idea by courting young, dedicated music fans and slowly building cult status. I just don't think they're moving fast enough to keep up with this audience or keep ahead of Apple.
Out of pure self-interest as a Zune user, I present four ideas that I think would make the Zune a better product. Feel free to add your own at the end.… Read more
Last night, Microsoft upgraded its Zune Pass music subscription service, allowing users to pick 10 songs each month that get permanently added to their music collection. Along with significant price drops across its Flash-capacity line of Zune MP3 players, it looks as if Microsoft is making a serious push to compete with the iPod this holiday season.
Apple isn't the only one who should be looking at Zune with some trepidation. Subscription music providers such as Rhapsody and Napster will now be expected to match Microsoft's value proposition by giving their users a mixture of purchased and subscription … Read more
One more detail about the latest Zune update: the Zune Pass, which costs $14.99 a month, is now going to allow users up to 10 permanent downloads per month. That's in addition to the unlimited downloads that expire if you stop paying your subscription. Think of it like an insurance policy for Zune Pass: if your Zune breaks and you decide to switch to another brand of MP3 player, you'll still get to keep some of the songs you downloaded.
I believe that Microsoft is the first company to offer free permanent downloads alongside unlimited temporary downloads. … Read more
With fewer consumers than hoped for signing up for all-you-can-eat music subscriptions, Microsoft and the record industry are trying to make the option more appealing.
As of Wednesday, those who pay for the $14.95 a month Zune Pass subscription will start being able to permanently keep 10 tracks a month. The subscription already allows unlimited music downloads, but users have the ability to listen to the music only so long as they are subscribers.
Under the new plan, Zune Pass members will essentially get $10 worth of music to own each month, along with whatever subscription content they download. … Read more
The idea is instead of the traditional paper boarding passes, passengers will use their mobile phones or PDAs to board an airplane.
American Airlines tried out this new method for the first time on Thursday with passengers leaving on domestic flights from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
Starting Monday, mobile boarding passes will also be offered as an option for passengers departing on domestic flights from Los Angeles International and John Wayne Orange County airports.
The ultimate freeware encryption program, TrueCrypt is loaded with powerful features for anyone who is concerned with protecting their data from thievery.
It offers 11 algorithms for encrypting your private files in a password-protected volume, with full support for Snow Leopard. You can store your encrypted data in files (containers) or partitions (devices). TrueCrypt works hard to offer powerful data protection, recommending complex passwords, explaining the benefits of hidden volumes, and erasing telltale signs of the encryption process, including mouse movements and keystrokes. Though the interface may not be immediately intuitive, its powerful, on-the-fly, no-cost encryption still earns the freeware … Read more
Microsoft warned Zune owners on Friday to prepare for an extended service outage starting Monday.
In an e-mail sent at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Microsoft warned that the outage could last for "up to 48 hours." The e-mail said the outage, which begins at 12:01 a.m. PDT on Monday, is for "scheduled maintenance."
A Microsoft representative would not offer more specifics or say why the outage was for such a long period of time. During the outage, the Zune Social, the Zune.Net forums as well as the Zune Marketplace online store will … Read more
Even with a big update, there are still many areas where the Zune comes up short when compared to Apple's iPod.
It's easy to argue that Apple still has the lead in styling, breadth of video content, add-on accessories, and software and compatibility. (Zune works only on Windows PCs.) Not to mention the fact that Microsoft has nothing to match Apple's iPod Touch with its ability to surf the Web and run a wide range of add-on programs.
But there are a couple of areas where Microsoft deserves significant credit. The most important, from my perspective, is … Read more
Microsoft, which is officially releasing its Zune 3.0 software on Tuesday, is also announcing a deal to give Zune owners free Wi-Fi access at McDonald's outlets.
The McDonald's deal is important because although every Zune has built-in Wi-Fi, the devices can only access free Wi-Fi hot spots that don't have a browser interrupt. That severely limits the types of public locations from which people can download songs wirelessly.