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  • Apple and Microsoft's Big Auditions

    Image via Washington Post


    In this morning's Washington Post, Rob Pegorano presents an interesting suggestion - one that challenges us to view Microsoft and Apple as two major companies auditioning for new roles in our lives.

    We need to retire the term "MP3 player." Not only do the newest media gadgets from Apple and Microsoft play more music formats than MP3 -- in addition to showing photos and videos -- they also fill some roles once reserved for high-end smartphones. They can even replace an old transistor radio.
    Pegorano suggests that as consumers have demanded more from their "MP3 players," Apple and Microsoft have so far exhibited weaknesses in their attempts to give us what we want. In short, Apple and Microsoft may be paying too much attention to one another and not enough attention to us. Apple's updated iPod nano and Microsoft's Zune HD, for example, do their jobs in providing music but they haven't elevated their game adequately elsewhere.

    With regard to the new nano, Pegorano says the video camera is an "awkward addition."

    Its lens is too easy to cover with a stray finger, and it deals poorly with low light and moving subjects. In good light, it can record decent clips, but their low resolution (640 by 480 pixels) and dull colors make them a better fit for YouTube than your HDTV.
    Next on Pegorano's radar is Microsoft's Zune HD, which he calls "a much more ambitious attempt -- but maybe not ambitious enough."

    It falls into a gap between simpler players like older Zunes and full-fledged, Internet-enabled gadgets such as Apple's iPod touch.
    Its easy to see today's Washington Post article as a hatchet job, but I don't see it that way. I see it as a challenge to Apple and Microsoft to ... well, stop competing with each other and start competing with themselves to better fill the new role consumers need them to fill. Although his commentary suggests that Microsoft, for example, deserves some degree of commendation for honestly striving to compete with Apple in the game that Apple has perennially dominated, Microsoft is "going to have to do more than ship flashy hardware that compares favorably with last year's iPods."

    The same, of course, can be said of Apple. Instead of rushing sloppy updates or unimpressive upgrades just to make the MP3 players of yesterday a little flashier today won't cut it. And to many, that's what it seems Apple and Microsoft are only interested in doing for now.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple and Microsoft's Big Auditions started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. BenzoHartt's Avatar
      BenzoHartt -
      Nice article. I'm glad i have my iPhone, it's all of the above. :-)
    1. BigMike09890's Avatar
      BigMike09890 -
      I remeber having a Zen Micro. That was a good MP3 player
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      For now apple has a strangle hold on the "mp3 player" market. Its going to take a lot to release their grips from it.
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      I love Apple products. But the Zune's something I would buy to replace my Ipod.
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tha5150 View Post
      1st
      Thank you for contributing such a useful and intelligent comment.


      I agree that the nano camera addition is strange....
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      I don't need those products since I have an iPhone , my brother has 120 gb iPod classic that I do love and I have my entire iTunes movie and music collection on it since it's a way to backup my MBA. The camera should have been on the iPod touch that just goes to show apple does whatever they want.
    1. Luppin's Avatar
      Luppin -
      Quote Originally Posted by BigMike09890 View Post
      I remeber having a Zen Micro. That was a good MP3 player
      I had a Zen Xtra, that thing was a tank.
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      Quote Originally Posted by BenzoHartt View Post
      Nice article. I'm glad i have my iPhone, it's all of the above. :-)
      I agree. One stop device
    1. noeticascetic's Avatar
      noeticascetic -
      "zen micro" ha, I had one of those pre-1st gen iPod (which I still use occasionally as a fw drive.)

      I agree that 640x480 is completely useless in these moments of rapidly increasing resolutions and access: Free hd hosting on vimeo and youtube for years, super-cheap h.264 derivatives, near-consumer access to Mark II's and Red One's.

      I'm not suggesting a mobile media-player should provide 4k @35mm with Prime lenses, but 5 year old tech seems a waste of marketing and manufacturing efforts.

      I suppose the nano is cheap and sexy (even though the asymmetry while horizontal always felt awkward to me,) so what do I know.

      I suspect few iPhone owners (or this site's members) are the marketing target of either device, but an interesting article.
    1. trevorrawson's Avatar
      trevorrawson -
      Anybody else still have their 5 gig original iPod with a spinning wheel that actually spins? 1000 songs in your pocket! But nothing else since it was so large, cutting edge technology for its day though and it was only what 8 years ago?
    1. robbpell's Avatar
      robbpell -
      Quote Originally Posted by trevorrawson View Post
      Anybody else still have their 5 gig original iPod with a spinning wheel that actually spins? 1000 songs in your pocket! But nothing else since it was so large, cutting edge technology for its day though and it was only what 8 years ago?
      i know first scroll wheel now touch screen!
      what are we gonna be using in 10 years thought controlled?
    1. plcrules's Avatar
      plcrules -
      i really like the UI of the zune
      but if apple had an oled screen i bet it would make up for it
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      My iPod touch is just what I need.
    1. darius359's Avatar
      darius359 -
      I don't really think this guy Rob Pegorano has a valid point. We're not always going to get every little thing we want out of something. And if you're the type of person who expects to get everything you want, then your momma should have stopped breast feeding you at an earlier age.

      Can you just be happy that you have a kick *** MP3 PLAYER that does so much more than being only an MP3 PLAYER? That's probably the reason why they're still going to be called MP3 PLAYERS, because their main goal is to play music. Everything else you're getting is already an add on that most people have requested or at least we're getting as a bonus gift with purchase. Would you like a latte with that too sir??
    1. badass1469's Avatar
      badass1469 -
      I think that the new nano is retarted as hell, i say f the nano and put the camera into the new ipod touch, but not some $h!t camera but a decent one, like the one in the 3GS. Oh and video recording as well not just pics.
    1. spudman01's Avatar
      spudman01 -
      man i have had a zune since the first day the 30 gig came out.. actually it was the first one out of best buy! and i loved it, and upgraded every time a new model came out. i was going to get the zune HD, but ever since i got my iphone, my 120 gig just collects dust.. sorry microsoft, i love the zune, dont get me wrong, but until you can one up the iphone with every feature it has and then some, apples iphone gets my vote
    1. mattharris85's Avatar
      mattharris85 -
      Microsoft should focus their attention elsewhere. Apples had this market in their back pocket for a long time
    1. kaaroFC's Avatar
      kaaroFC -
      I think that we will get what we ask for, but not everything at once, and once we get the things we're asking for now...we would want more...its a cycle...
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      What I don't understand is why the nano doesn't take pictures? I take pics far more often than I take videos...
    1. Tokyo's Avatar
      Tokyo -
      Quote Originally Posted by BenzoHartt View Post
      Nice article. I'm glad i have my iPhone, it's all of the above. :-)
      This.