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Cliczune Archives: March 2009

Windows Mobile 7 Incorporates Zune


There have been many rumors about the Zune being recreated into a phone.  At this point, it is more than safe to say that it ain't happening.  However, lately Microsoft has been focusing on the Zune as a software platform as well, and more than "just" a handheld device.

The newest rumor is that Zune will be incorporated into the Windows Mobile 7 platform.  The downside is that this newest mobile OS will likely make its debut in 2010, hopefully in the first half.  This means that there will be a wait to getting this in consumer's hands.  The upside is that this may entice more users to purchase Windows Mobile phones which have traditionally fared better for enterprise use than average consumers.

I personally like the sound of this strategy.  If there is a way to get the Zune platform into more users hands, this could be a good way as smartphones penetrate more.  Imagine how awesome it would be to be able to use your Zune pass with streaming via a 3G network!  Not to mention how social we could be if we weren't limited to WiFi exchanges.  This is the forward thinking that is called for, and hopefully this will be implemented up to its full potential.

New Zune Literature

Zune_gamebook As the Zune concept is getting redesigned, the emphasis is on transitioning the Zune from a physical media player, to a software concept.  As such, it can be then added as software into existing products.  Two likely targets include the Xbox line, and Windows Mobile phones.  After all, Microsoft is at its heart a software company, and the hardware will always be a secondary endeavor to them.

They are envisioning, or shoudl I say reenvisioing the Zune as both a device and a service.  With the Zune able to play games, apparently they wish to port this ability to other devices of the Microsoft pantheon as well.  This became apparent at a McGraw Hill book summit with the release of a new title: Zune Game Development Using XNA 3.0.  While this may all sound like an intriguing development, I have to point out that I'm not quite sure that Xbox owners are clamoring to play Zune games on that platform.  Music, maybe, but portable games, well, no.  At any rate, it's nice to see some further developments of integrating the Zune further into other core Microsoft products.



When I think of the game bingo, I think of a room full of seniors with their cards, and those magic marker stamps.  After all it is a staple for the senior crowd.  The high stakes games are at the Indian Reservation where the serious players do more than one card at a time.  And for the kiddy crowd, the ever popular car bingo can pass the hours on a trip (when the Zune battery drains, of course).

However, there appears to be yet another version of this venerable game.  At the South By Southwest conference (SXSW), they decided to turn bingo into a picture game.  The cards had various targets of pictures, and the lower right hand one was "Someone using a Zune."  While the other categories included "Geek girl," "Techy Mom," and "Someone using a Kindle," I think that it's notable that the Zune ended up in the Gadgets column.  Should I point out that a certain player named after a popular fruit didn't make the cut for the card?

Rapid Repair

5b Sometimes in a down economy, some businesses do better.  One example is the repair business.  Whereas a year ago, when something broke we would just toss it and buy another, now if it is an expensive item, we might look into getting it fixed for less.  Sometimes it is a challenge to know where to get something repaired.

As an FYI, I stumbled upon this press release, and wanted to share it.  Apparently the company Rapid Repair, which has been around for five years, will diagnose your Zune's issue.  The good part is that they will do it for free, and then you only have to pay for shipping it home if you decide not to do anything.  There are also Zune batteries for sale as separate items, and some well done disassembly guides to the Zune done with hi res photos.

I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Rapid Repair only because I have not used their services firsthand.  If anyone has direct experience with them- good or bad- we'd love to hear about it in the comments.  In the meantime, it's worth knowing about because sooner or later, all this electronic stuff does hiccup.

Buy From FM Discussed

The internet has significantly changed much of what we do.  Many have realized that newspapers days are numbered.  Television content can be distributed in new ways with services such as Hulu for online streaming.  Along the same line, radio is not exactly gaining market share.

While an FM radio can be somewhat useful at times, I don't generally use it.  Hence why I find the FM radio in the Zune a feature I simply don't use.  However, with the "Buy From FM" feature, Zune users can use this to help find out what the song is playing on the radio, and buy it if they like it.  This was instituted with the last Zune update in September last year.

This feature came up today.  Apparently, this type of interactivity is felt to have potential in saving radio:

Haley also pointed to radio's interactive initiatives, particularly the Buy From FM platform on the Microsoft Zune, which allows listeners to buy songs for the Zune as they play on its built-in FM radio. Haley said the platform is being extended to interactive advertising as well: "Imagine, when you buy five coffee drinks from McDonald's, you receive a Buy From FM purchase, free song from McDonald's. Imagine you buy a song -- 'Ordinary People' from John Legend -- and you get a coupon for his album live from Target. So you have the ability to really interact, and we can measure this, and we can kind of bring a new product to our suite of services for our clients."

Whether this will have a lasting effect on FM radio or not we'll have to see.  While I'm a bit skeptical, I am at least intrigued to give this a try.  And that would make me listen to the radio again, so it may have a little effect for this user.  Stay tuned?

Zune Replaces Satellite For One User

Best_satellite_radio Satellite radio has always looked like a needless expense to me.  With radio available for free OTA, and mp3 players galore, why would anyone pay another monthly expense?  Especially in these tough economic times, with cell phone bills going up to cover wireless web and text messaging, and ever increasing cable bills, there is a limit to what consumers will pay for entertainment.  Apparently, at least one consumer reached their limit:

Frankly, I've been listening to Sirius Online less and less with the passage of time. I've got a formidable library of network-stored music ripped from the CDs I own. My Microsoft Zune subscription streaming-and-download service (which includes 128 different online streamed channels) provides additional music content. And there are plenty of other low-to-no cost (i.e. advertising-supported) online streamed music sources around, such as Pandora. Anyway, I have little confidence that Sirius will still be a viable business entity a year from now, far from two or three. So this morning I decided to just go ahead and cancel my Sirius service, in advance of Wednesday's Online cut-off.

Personally this is a no brainer to me.  A Zune Pass subscription offers a lot more value for a month than satellite radio does.  Choosing the Zune for those on a budget is an easy choice, and owning your own music and just playing it from the Zune is still a cost effective entertainment option.

Big Brother Is Watching

The iPod folks seem to want to beat up on the Zune these days.  Ok, make that all the time.  Recently, there has been an online debate on whether the Zune is good enough to steal- or not.

This online debate conversation has spawned yet another viral video.  How about a more carefully done study?  While the first pilot studies were the case reports, this most recent effort is the equivalent of a multicenter randomized trial.  What they did was to put both an iPod and Zune within easy pilfering reach.  Oh, and there was a webcam to capture it all in flash video glory.  While folks did prefer the iPod over the Zune, there were a handful that went for the Microsoft player.  Oh, and at least it's a good sign that the Zune is clearly the competitor to the class leader...

Zune Searches For New Canadian Music Talent


One thing that the Zune has tried to foster is the social experience of music.  After all, much of our musical taste is based upon what others around us listen to.  This is the so called "social" aspect of the music experience.

Along that vein, Zune Canada is sponsoring a concert to discover a new Canadian band.  To do that, they are sponsoring the Zune Concert Series.  Here are some details:

We’re scouring the country in search of Canada’s best, undiscovered band. When found, we will offer them a once in a lifetime opportunity – the chance to play live in front of 10,000 people during the Zune Concert Series in Whistler, BC. They will also receive a unique mentorship with influential Canadian music industry representatives such as A&R reps, producers and agents through Zune.  The grand prize winner will receive a trip for up to five band members to the Zune Concert Series at the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, BC.

Along with that, the fortunate winning group will get a Zune mentorship.  This provides them with some valuable "face time" with influential Canadian music industry represntatives. 

Those that play the radio better than a musical instrument also have the opportunity to win a trip for two to the festival.  along with the prize, the lucky winners will get VIP passes, overnight accommodations, and keeping with the theme, a pair of Zunes.  Let the squirting begin...

Zune Kiosk


Seems like these kisoks are popping up everywhere.  You know, those "stores within a store" that highlight one product or product line from a manufacturer?  Looks like the latest marketing effort for the Zune involves them putting their products into a kiosk.  While this concept may appear at one of those new Microsoft stores, it also could easily fit in at the local big block retailer.  I think it does a good job of highlighting and displaying the Zune line.  Also note the laptops to show that the Zune can update wirelessly.

Zune To Keep Focus, Please

147a1114e6bff4e44aaf51d4b031e989 For the last few weeks, much attention has been paid to the second iteration of the Amazon Kindle.  With the e-ink, and the link in to Sprint's data network for content, it certainly is possibly a "rules changing" piece of consumer electronics.  For the last week, much attention had been paid to the new iPhone app that can bring some level of "Kindle functionality" to the Apple device, and allow users to read an ebook on the go.

In the process, pot shots get taken at the Zune.  Maybe I should be used to it by now, but this one was somewhat inflammatory, and bothered me:

Support for platforms outside the iPhone. Lots of mobile devices have suitable screens for reading eBooks, it’d be nice to see this opened up beyond the iPhone market. I’m sure Zune users (both of them) would like to be able to read an eBook on their devices as well.

First of all, a professional site like that doesn't need to bash the Zune as they obviously don't own one.  Many of us do, and there are plenty more than "both of them" would suggest.  Then, my main criticism is this: the Zune, unlike the iPhone doesn't attempt to be a Swiss army knife of electronics.  I have no desire to read anything on my Zune other than my track titles.  Most users bought their Zune for music, and use it for such.  I seriously hope that the Zune team doesn't lose their focus of making the best music player out there.  I felt it was when I bought mine, and would buy one again if it died today.  I don't need an ebook reader, and while I wouldn't mind seeing more apps for my Palm T/X, if I wanted to read an ebook, I'd buy a Kindle and not remake my Zune. 

If you're listening over at Microsoft, don't remake the Zune and take away what works so well.