meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zune Marketplace good, still kind of a mess

One of my best friends works for Microsoft so I often get to hear about the neat stuff they're doing. I've also worked with Christian Thilmany, their local BizSpark guy and he's doing some really great stuff for small businesses. That is to say - I don't have any sort of axe to grind but Microsoft is nothing if not confused.

So why can't Microsoft figure out how to make their Zune Marketplace cohesive and intuitive?

I've had my 80GB Zune for about a year and a half and as hardware goes it's been pretty solid. I reformated it for the first time this past month - which was more than I could say about my 2 previous iPods.

There has been a large marketing push for the Zune pass's rental model being a viable alternative to iTunes' purchase model. It may not be a good option for everyone but for a music lover like myself it's perfect! I've had my Zune pass for almost a year now. I download unlimited amounts of music and I love being able to download directly to my Zune via wifi.

No marriage is perfect. So let me introduce you to the suck:
  • MP3 vs WMA vs MP3 - as a Zune pass member I have 10 tracks I can download per month to keep DRM-free. But most albums have more than 10 tracks so I have to strategize. i.e. remember to download the last 3 tracks off of Sonic Youth's "Sister". Sometimes these will be mp3 and sometimes wma. Today when I downloaded the last half of Fujiya and Miyagi's "Lightbulbs" it turned out to be both - part MP3, part WMA.
  • New releases are not consistant - still no word on the latest Datarock album "Red". It's been up in iTunes, eMusic and Amazon since the release date in June.
  • I can't listen to music from my Zune on my Xbox 360. Even though my Xbox Live Gamertag and Zune are linked. This is actually still less annoying than paying $.99 for a track on iTunes and then another $.99 to turn it into a ringtone.
I get that all of this stuff is pretty complex. But it's not all lines of code - that is to say, these problems can be solved by having one person (or probably a small team) actually helming the project or division. Usually they're called Project Managers.

Zune's marketplace is really great for people like myself who consume music but i think it's time for her to take off her glasses, suss up her hair and transform herself from the ugly duckling into the Rachael Leigh Cook we all know she is!

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