Five Reasons iPods Still Beat Zunes

Oct 7th, 2007 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players

ipod touch

Microsoft has announced updates to its line of Zune portable media players. While there is a lot of good news in Microsoft’s announcement, including improved wireless features and podcasting support, the Zune platform still lags way behind Apple’s iTunes/iPod platform.

Here are five reasons iPods still beat Zunes:

  • Zunes are still boring. With the exception of the Zune’s wireless features, its hardware is competitive with iPods …from about two years ago. While Apple is introducing innovative touch-screen interfaces to its iPod line, Microsoft’s hardware innovation is the squircle – a roundish square button. 4GB flash players? Wake me up before you go-go, Zune! Microsoft needs to get innovative if it wants to compete with Apple’s offerings.
  • Microsoft still wants you to use the points system to buy stuff. We haven’t used the points system since grade school, where the teachers would take off points if you talked out of turn, acted up, or in any other way failed to conform to the man. Lose too many points, and no recess for you! Here’s how Microsoft explains its points system: “The Points that you purchase can be easily managed in a special account that you can use on Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live Marketplace. You can buy Points online from the Marketplace itself by using your credit card, or you can pick up Microsoft Points cards at many participating retail locations and use those Points to purchase new music that you want. Once you purchase Points, you can browse and purchase songs or albums through the Zune Marketplace for 79 Microsoft Points per track.” Who wants to buy points? We just want to buy some tunes! No recess for Microsoft!
  • The Zune has no content. The Zune store has about three million songs – or about half of what’s available in the iTunes music store. When it comes to podcast support, Microsoft has about 1,000 podcasts in its directory, compared to 125,000 in Apple’s directory. Games? Movies? Missing in action. Microsoft could go a long way towards fixing the Zune’s content problem by expanding its podcast support to Windows to create more demand for podcasts, making Microsoft, and the Zune, a player in the podcast world.
  • Limited accessories – Zune accessories are hard to come by. This is enough of a liability that Microsoft made a point of releasing its own line of accessories with the new Zunes, mentioning leather cases, sync cables and AC adapters in its announcement. Now that’s something to get excited about! While Zune owners are enjoying their Microsoft sync cables, iPod owners can choose from a zillion iPod accessories, including iPod audio recorders, iPod monitors, iPod home theaters, iPod underwear, iPod Victrolas, iPod video recorders, and other things too strange to mention.
  • It’s still a Zune. Microsoft’s first generation Zune got a lukewarm reaction, because the hardware was uninspired, the software was buggy and the Zune didn’t have much content. While Microsoft has gone a long way towards addressing the Zune’s problems, the Zune platform still isn’t nearly as rich as Apple’s iTunes/iPod platform, the Zune still isn’t sexy and the Zune doesn’t challenge the weaknesses of Apple’s offerings. Apple’s iTunes/iPod platform is the de facto standard for portable media, so iPods are going to get great new content first. Microsoft’s introduction of the first generation Zune was a debacle, creating a stigmatized platform. You can put lipstick on a pig – but a Zune is still a Zune.

The new Zunes are no iPod-killers. Think different? Let us know in the comments…

No Responses to “Five Reasons iPods Still Beat Zunes”

  1. The one and only reason I prefer Zune to the iPod is the ability to pay a monthly fee and get all the music I could possibly listen to. I pay $45 per quarter for the ability to download to the Zune any of the 3m songs I’d like to hear. I like variety on the go, and I like predictability of cost. This is not possible on the iTunes store, as far as I know. This is why I liked the Rhapsody service, but at the time they did not offer a player that would provide unlimited downloads. Zune did, and I have not looked back.

  2. info says:


    So – basically you spend a couple hundred bucks a year and at the end you don’t have anything to show for it? Why not just buy the music you like?

  3. fairplay says:


    Charlie surely has enjoyed a year of unlimited choice for that $200? So its not something for nothing here, lets be clear about that.

    There are pluses and minuses on both sides of this coin and it basically comes down to personal choice.

    Though Microsoft has hardly been the most trustworthy company in the music field and they have a lot to make up for previous wrongdoings, PlaysForSure!

    I have a mac and two ipods but I do like the design of the new Zune and Apple has failed its customers by not allowing wireless Sync or a decent sized memory iPod touch. I for one was disappointed with the new generation of iPods. I still just cant get why it doesnt wireless sync when the Apple TV does, that means the software hurdles have already been crossed (thought doubt they were very difficult to cross), so why NOT do it?

  4. Tahler says:

    I think the Zune is really cool. I saw something about the new ones coming out soon. I’m going to save up and buy one!

  5. William says:

    Typical drivel. Of those 125k podcasts and vidcasts, you do realize the zune software will support RSS feed which means (ZOMG!) any podcast website that does RSS support (which is most of them) will be on a zune if you want it. Face it the Zune has features the ipod doesn’t and games are the only feature ipods have that zunes don’t. Wow..theres a reason to blow that $300 on a ipod, woohoo sign me up for cheap ass games on a click wheel.

  6. Kev Orng says:

    The iPod has one other KILLER feature that the Zune is missing: available to the other 97% of the planet who live outside the US.

    What else… The iPod is available to the, what is it now, 40% of university students who use Macs. Zune has no Mac support.

    These would have been easy fixes. Thanks for coming out, Zune!

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