I must say, upfront, that i think the Zune HD is an excellent device. While admitantly below par when compared to the iPod Touch or the iPhone.
There are still weak points, like the mobile browser being IE6 based ( IE6 has more holes than Swiss cheese).
But the Zune is not simply pure hardware. The Zune Pass you can purchase ($15??) gives you essentially unlimited music (plus 10 free tracks a month that are yours to keep forever).
That is the key to the Zune succeeding big in the world. Think of the implications for your music listening habits.
The Zune will scan your music library and download tracks that complement it. Automatically. No human input required. No Passwords, nothing. Nada. This is great for music discovery, not to mention indie bands and labels whose work may not be as well known.
Andy Ihnatko made the point on last weeks episode of Macbreak Weekly that instead of simply being restricted to 30 second previews per track of an album, Zune Pass allows you to just download and buy the whole album. I had that situation just the other day. I was trying to figure out if I should get the soundtrack to 500 Days of Summer (great movie BTW, but I digress) from iTunes. If I had Zune Pass, I could get the whole thing and only then decide if I like it. I could then make that my 10 free tracks for the month.
Talking of which, that episode is a must listen since it centres on the Zune HD.
Also available on the Zune are TV programs and movies, although the catalogue is far smaller than the one on iTunes. I’m not totally sure whether this is included in the Zune Pass, but lets assume for a minute, that it is. Since it should be.
See at the moment I’ve bought 3 seasons of The West Wing on iTunes. All of which were a perfectly reasonable £19.99 each. Now season 4 is £34.99. I’d like to buy Season 4, really. But that is too darn expensive. I can rent a few movies every weekend for a month for that price. If I had a Zune Pass, this would be a different story completely. You see i really DON’T want 60 West Wing episodes taking up space on my Hard Drives. Apple can have them back. But I do want to continue watching the series. A Zune Pass would let me do both of those things.
I’m sure that both Apple and the Record Labels and the Studios would love for me to continue spending money. But as long as prices are that high, my money isn’t going anywhere. What would you rather have, a burst of income once in a blue moon, or a steady, albeit lower than usual, income stream??? Multiply that by millions of millions of subscribers and you’re sitting on a friggin’ fortune.
As I said on Twitter earlier, make it easier for customer to spend their hard-earned cash on things they actually want to buy. I want to buy music and that 4th season of the West Wing, really, but i want a Zune Pass. Or an iTunes Pass. Something.
It goes without saying that this will deter many MANY (illegal) casual file sharers. The benefits of a Zune pass are extraordinarily compelling.
I suspect that the music industry and the studios are dragging its heels on this. Let the Zune go global, and let iTunes do something similar.
Fans every will thank you.
PS. Apple. I want wireless syncing with my iPhone. Now.