NY Times: Zune Blows Away iPod For Music Discovery

Sep 18th, 2008 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players

The New York Times has a great look at the state of the Zune today, that suggests that the Microsoft’s portable media player has found a niche:

Microsoft hasn’t made much effort to match the iPod’s universe of functions. The Zune store still lacks movies, downloadable programs, gift certificates, monthly allowances or any way to rate podcasts to guide fellow visitors. And the player still has no stopwatch, alarm clock, volume limiter, calendar, address book, note pad or external-hard-drive mode.

Yet for hard-core music lovers, it’s a gem. The Zune blows the iPod off the map in music discovery and downloading.

The Zune software offers myriad ways to suggest new music that you might like, based upon what you’re listening to, or what people with your tastes have in their own libraries. Again, it’s ZunePass gold.

In short, the Zune has become almost a cross between music player and satellite radio. Wireless streaming, capturing from the radio, channel subscriptions, recommendations — if you’re a heavy music consumer and you’re willing to pay $15 a month forever, it’s just the best.

The biggest problem Microsoft seems to have with the Zune is finding a way to show that it’s not an iPod clone, and to do this it has to create new features that are useful to a lot of people. 

Last year, Microsoft was pushing “squirting” songs with other Zune users. This flopped, because it was a convoluted feature that most people had no chance to try out, because most people don’t know any other Zune users. 

Now Microsoft is focusing on music discovery. Zune’s new features make the most sense if you are interested in subscription-based music. At $15/month, subsription fees will add up to $400-500 in a few years.

For those that do like the idea of subscription-based music, though, the Zune provides an attractive option.

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