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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