If you follow the world of portable music players at all, you've probably seen the ads for the Zune popping up all over the place like insidious paper mushrooms, announcing that the future is here. No longer will we be slaves to the product of Apple, for Zune is here, by God and the world of portable music is about to change forever.
Not quite, says the New York Times. In his review, writer David Pogue talks about how not only is the Zune Microsoft's second attempt to take down the iPod (the first attempt, PlaysForSure is about to start dying a slow death after Microsoft abandoned the standard and its technology partners in favor of the Zune), but it's not even up to the standards of "iPod Killer"…it's just an interesting player with a lot of room for improvement.
As Pogue hints in his review though, Microsoft wouldn't be Microsoft without their promotional ability. How many other MP3 players can you name offhand besides the iPod? I know there's the Creative Zen and the products from iriver, but that's about it – because MP3 players don't really get much attention these days unless they're either a.) from Apple or b.) included in another gadget, like a phone. Microsoft worked some market share with their hype machine, even if the player doesn't live up to expectations. Furthermore, this is Microsoft we're talking about; they won't get it right on the first try, but they have the resources to keep pushing for a long time until they get it right. The Zune won't kill the iPod yet, but I think eventually it will be a viable competitor.