September 14, 2006 2:08 PM PDT

Microsoft hopes to sell Zune using brown, not green

Microsoft does hope some iPod users will become Zune buyers, but it has no plans to bribe them.

Rumors that the company would pay to replace a user's iTunes store purchases with Zune-compatible tracks are not true, Microsoft said Thursday.

The Zune will be able to transfer music ripped to iTunes from CDs, along with information such as user-assigned ratings and playlists, said Scott Erickson, Microsoft's senior director of product management for Zune.

"The vast majority of what people have on their PCs is ripped from CDs," Erickson said in an interview on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Microsoft showed off the Zune for the first time, but declined to say just when it will go on sale or how much it will cost.

Although the Zune will play videos, Microsoft won't be selling TV shows or movies this holiday season. Nor, Erickson confirmed, will the device be able to play programs recorded on a Media Center PC, a type of Windows computer that has TiVo-like recording abilities.

"We're focusing on the question of what people are doing with these devices," he said. "By and large the main answer there is music."

Solving another mystery, Erickson explained the thinking behind the choice of brown as one of the Zune's color choices. It's part of the image Microsoft is trying to build.

"Who would create a brown device? Well, artists would and musicians would," he said. "I think it is going to be the sleeper hit."

Erickson said that the colors of the Zune are actually a "double shot," with a second more subtle tone added to give the device a richer color. The brown device, he said, has some green, while the black has a slight blue.

Microsoft has an uphill battle in chasing Apple Computer, which has sold 60 million iPods and dominated the market for legal music downloads and MP3 players. Apple stepped up the pressure on Tuesday, introducing an updated iPod that--while lacking wireless abilities or a larger screen--does offer a brighter screen, longer battery life and a lower price than prior models.

Microsoft is hoping the Zune's ability to share music will help it stand out.

"There's good technology out there, but we haven't really tapped into the human angle," Erickson said.

One of the questions though, is whether Zune owners will have enough fellow Zune owners to share music with. "We are going to be doing some activities in the next few months...that target that question specifically."

Among the events on tap, Erickson said, are Zune-backed concerts, as well as programs to make sure college students are among the early Zune owners. "The reality is the people on the streets and the groups of friends, and the community will be the best promoters of the device," he said.

Microsoft has said it expects Zune to take years to reach its full potential and it expects to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the effort.

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29 comments

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NO ZUNE
Let's all go out and NOT buy one of these. Hopefully if we dimiss
this dismal outing and ignore the upcoming newest release of
Windows, the whole company will be headed for the dumpster, The
sooner the better!!!
Posted by ampdoc (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes!
Let's not decide based on features, quality or merit, let's follow the advice of some troll that knows what's best for all!
Posted by herby67 (144 comments )
Link Flag
more brown from microsoft...
BROWN???
yep-that reminds me of somthing that microsoft has been peddling
for years - & heres some more!!
Posted by ISAIDGOD (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Brown
You're right M$ has been doing things different for a couple of years now. a Brown MP3 player is the thing you recognize, but many more, like Apple's new ITV and Windows Media Center.
Stick to White and Black or lime and pink if you're into that color, just not me.
Posted by DrtyDogg (3084 comments )
Link Flag
Did Microsoft talk to the record labels
A device that allows you to share music free, no restrictions. If the
record labels didn't like Napster, they sure as hell are not going to
stand for this. I know the record labels are looking for an
alternative to Apple, but I don't think THIS is what they had in
mind. Oh and in the car business they call it "No sale brown".
Posted by ivanbou (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: Music Labels
You can only share music files purchased from the Zune Music Service, which means the artist/label has already made their money on the track. Also, it is limited to 3 days or 3 plays, whichever comes first. At that point it "bookmarks" it as a suggested purchase. I am pretty sure this was something discussed with the labels as this exposes the user to more music than they currently "own" and may possibly translate into more sales.
Posted by tristanfey (10 comments )
Link Flag
Lay off MS
By any measure Zune(like nearly every other MS product) is crap.

They are just being honest for once, and letting you know up front it is crap.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lol
They are expecting it to be another Xbox money drain:

"Microsoft has said it expects Zune to take years to reach its full potential and it expects to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the effort."

After wasting all that money they will still be an also ran, or they could have done it right the first time and maybe make a dent.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Brown?
Why do I care about brown? and since I am asking why do I care about Jessica Simpson?
there are bigger fish to fry. why don't they make it tie-dyed. or rainbow!
Posted by maribethia (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I like brown
what's your problem with brown? I like brown, and curiously I'm a musician too. MS have done their research!!! good on 'em
Posted by garrywdm (44 comments )
Link Flag
Hey customers, here's what we're not going to do for you!
"Although the Zune will play videos, Microsoft won't be selling TV shows or movies this holiday season. Nor, Erickson confirmed, will the device be able to play programs recorded on a Media Center PC, a type of Windows computer that has TiVo-like recording abilities. "

So what exactly are we supposed to watch on this? Stuff downloaded illegally from the net? Illegally ripped DVDs?

A swing, and a miss. Listen, why even offer video? MS has a huge opportunity here: integrate the livingroom media center and their player. Timeshift video on your PC, watch it anywhere. No, instead they've chose to keep their obviously complementary products locked into separate worlds. Too bad the great wall of DRM probably also separates their products from the customers. D'oh!
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who is running this company - such buffoon decisions
So if I had a WMC PC (Comes bundled with many PCs today), and I have all these videos stored on there. I would consider buying a Zune to carry my Videos with me as I travel! Duh. But I guess they want you to buy from their future Zune video store instead. No surprise if that was the reason, looking out for their already deep pockets first.
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
consumer demand
I guess they'll wait a while then add the capability in the next version and sing about how they respond to consumer demand. That's typically what they do with their software -- leave out something really obvious then add it in a later ver$ion upgrade and celebrate their magnanimousness.
Posted by tipper_gore (74 comments )
Link Flag
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-zune
Good ol' MS can't compete without pouring hundreds of millions
down the drain.

What kind of strategy is that? How does that sound to investors?
And what does that say about the quality and appeal of their
products?

They got lucky with lock-in distribution deals for DOS. If it
weren't for that, they would have died the quick death of every
other company that continually offers subpar products in a
competitive market.

And what's with the chunky, plastic 80's styling?

They NEED fantasties and hundreds of millions in cash to even
have a shot at pulling this off.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE:zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-zune
Any company, and I mean any, would need millions of dollars and years products in the field to hope to have a chance against Apple in the digital music market. As it stands, there are several players out there better than Appple's i-[lines], but without the money to make the public notice they are not making any real dent into Apple's dominance (Sansa being the notable exception).

It would be the same thing if Apple wanted to really push to knock MS off the OS pedestal, which it dominates even tho many consider its OS to be subpar to Mac, Linux , etc. Apple would have to toss millions of dollars at the effort. Who knows how much is being spent right now by Apple on just the new commercial series "humanizing" the Mac and PC in their TV ads.

Do I think Zune is a better piece of hardware than Apple's counterparts? I have no idea, I do not have one in my hand. Like most everyone else I will need to wait to compare them side-by-side.
Posted by tristanfey (10 comments )
Link Flag
three colors
Zune has three colors: white, black and grown. There are zune photos here <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dvdtozune.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.dvdtozune.com/</a>
Posted by wanna_b (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
zune Converter
Here are some good software suits for Zune lovers: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.pqdvd.com/dvd-to-zune-video-converter.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.pqdvd.com/dvd-to-zune-video-converter.html</a>. Believe me or not.
Posted by dvd to zune PQ (2 comments )
Link Flag
Brown _always_ contains some green
Erickson said that the colors of the Zune are actually a "double
shot," with a second more subtle tone added to give the device a
richer color. The brown device, he said, has some green."

What nonsense. Brown _always_ contains some green. The
chances that _anything_ you've looked at... outside of an original
oil painting... contains a single, pure pigment is virtually nil.
They are "double shots," triple shots, hextuple shots... and in
the case of a "brown," a green would almost always be part of
the mix.

This is just an infuriatingly way of pretending that a perfectly
ordinary, arbitrary color choice sound is something wise and
special.
Posted by dpbsmith--2008 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
"expects to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the effort"
That's lotsa "green"!!!
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So no DRM-WMA and no mediacenter movies
Its insane, MS thinks there alone in the market and can
completely dictate what we can and can't do. Sony has tried this
with the Atrac coding but it miserably failed, MS is maybe bigger
than Apple and Sony-elec but they sure miss the boat by a wide
margin here.

I predict it will sell in the 5 digits per month with enough media
attention and advertising, if there lucky. So this is 10.000 to
99.000 but my bet is 20.000 per month worldwide the first half
year.
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Reply Link Flag
are you daft??? it costs 15 bucks a month for zune pass... so.. if you just look at the 10 mp3's you get... for a dollar 50 each. so that's like only a little bit more than what itunes charges, AND you get to download and keep everything else you want, as long as you have the service.. this is awesome because it's a service. and it's practically free. i mean i spend about 10-15 bucks a month on itunes music purchases. i could spend that, every month on zune. and get way more.... and even if you quit the service you still have your mp3's, and you diddn't pay that much more. so it was worth it.
Posted by graig78 (10 comments )
Link Flag
why must they try if they won't try?
Sorry, Ive tried to be fair&but absolutely everything (minus the wi-fi connection) thats come out about the MS Zune has been so uninteresting and non-evolutionary. Did they actually market-test to see why people want portable music players? For music?

Say what you will about the iPod, but the thing provides the best and easiest experience for music on the go and managing a library at home. The new models look amazing, and when the iTV finally comes out its all over. Why on earth would I or anyone else want to switch to an inferior product?

I dont think so.
Posted by kuguy3000 (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod (best/easiest)
"Say what you will about the iPod, but the thing provides the best and easiest experience for music on the go and managing a library at home."

You should try a Sansa model.
Posted by tristanfey (10 comments )
Link Flag
"Say what you will about the iPod, but the thing provides the best and easiest experience for music on the go and managing a library at home. The new models look amazing, and when the iTV finally comes out it?s all over. Why on earth would I or anyone else want to switch to an inferior product?"

i'll be selling my ipod touch here in a while, i just got my zune, and it's so much better for music.. MUCH easier to navigate. there are pinned favorites of your music. it shows the newest music. playlists are easy to create on the device. and the software is very good. and works well. unlike itunes for windows.

i wont say the ipod is inferior. or anything biased like that. because the ipod is a great device. itunes for windows is terrible though. and if you cant support your devices with software that works well then your going to loose customers. people are getting fed up with itunes. it's bloated, it forces you to install like 10 other applications, it's ugly, and not very easy.
Posted by graig78 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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