Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

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All posts tagged "Apple"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Zune: Now a Viable iPod Alternative?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"The Zune has a long way to go to become a threat to the iPod. But it is getting closer...and it became clear that there are a few things Apple can learn from the Zune...I found the Zune's Marketplace feature easy and definitely satisfying...Mixview is miles above the Genius feature...clearly Microsoft is making strides - and maybe making consumers think twice before running out to buy a new iPod."

The smattering of quotes above were pulled from this ABC News article that compares the Zune to the new Apple Nano iPod. What's worthy of noting is that while the article clearly acknowledges that Apple is the market leader, the Zune measures up quite nicely against Apple's newest Nano. Even more worthy of noting is that since the new Zune 3.0 software and devices launched in September, I've been watching the reviews and articles take on a decidedly more positive tone toward the Zune compared to what was written about it in November of 2007. Read more...

Tags: Zune, Apple, iPod Nano

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apple Threatens iTunes Shutdown if Royalty Increase is Pushed Through

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:07 AM


"Apple has threatened to shut down the iTunes music store if an obscure three-person board appointed by the Librarian of Congress increase the royalties paid to publishers and songwriters by six cents per song. The Copyright Royalty Board is scheduled to hand down its decision on these rates Thursday. As part of their general muscle-flexing of late, music publishers asked the board to increase royalties paid to publishers and songwriters from 9 cents to 15 cents per track. Apple -- which has mightily resisted tampering in any way with its 99 cent price point for tracks -- said that if the rate hike goes through and the labels refuse to absorb the entire resulting increase, the iTunes music store will become unprofitable."

If you put music on your Windows Mobile phone, your MP3 player, or your Zune, and you ever purchase that music from iTunes, this is news you'll want to know about. I'm not personally a big fan of iTunes, but I certainly support their stance in resisting this move. They've sold several billion songs, largely because the 99 cent purchase price of an iTunes song is a reasonable alternative to piracy for most people. If you give people a chance to be honest, they will - iTunes proved that. According to this Wired article, Apple pays artists and labels 65 to 70 cents per song, 9 cents of which the artist or studio is paying to the publishers. It seems to me that if this law were to pass, the increased rates should come from the artist/label end - after all, without the songwriter that created the song in the first place, they'd have nothing in the first place.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out - the music industry has been undermining Apple and iTunes lately, offering DRM-free MP3s to Amazon while denying them to Apple. Steve Jobs isn't known for compromising (what with that huge ego and all), so this will be interesting to watch. And if this law does pass, what will happen to Amazon's MP3 store? Or Rhapsody's MP3 store? Will we see $1.10 pricing there (you just know they'd round up), or will they too shut down? This could have some dire consequences for online music stores, who all operate at razor-thin profit margins as it is. Could this kill or cripple the entire industry? The music companies would prefer to have us all buying CDs anyway, right?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Apple, iPod, and the Non-Traditional Trademark

Posted by Suhit Gupta in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 05:00 AM


"On Jan. 8, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple Inc. a trademark for the three-dimensional shape of its iPod media player. This was more than a recognition of an innovative product design. It also was Apple's capping piece in a multiyear marketing and legal campaign that pushed intellectual-property rights to new competitive advantage for the company. In many ways, Apple is benefiting from an expansion of U.S. trademark rights, beyond the traditional names, images, logos and two-dimensional symbols trademarks usually secure. In recent years, trademarks have been granted for such things as product shapes, colors and scents that companies can claim are linked exclusively to the source company in consumers' minds. These nontraditional marks are difficult to obtain... The iPod shape trademark gives Apple a new weapon in the fiercely competitive market for media players. While competitors may eventually appropriate the iPod's inner workings, as utility patents expire, they will risk litigation if their products come too close to the trademarked shape of the iPod, including its popular circular-touchpad interface."

I understand that Apple has responsibilities to its shareholders and this trademark will certainly boost revenue in the future, but I find this to be an extremely competition-squashing move, almost more so than Microsoft and its use of Windows to spread other Microsoft software. When I first read that the shape had been trademarked, I figured that it is reasonable since the iPod does have a truly distinct shape and this move may promote some innovation in the space from competitors But I was then was slightly horrified when I read the following -- "In January, the Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple the nontraditional trademark it desired, along with the following more specific description of the approved mark: "[T]he design of a portable and handheld digital electronic media device comprised of a rectangular casing displaying circular and rectangular shapes therein arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner."" That is so incredibly broad that I feel like any personal music player fits into this sort of category. I guess competitors can claim that their devices are not aesthetic? Or maybe they can place all buttons at an angle and claim that they are in the shape of a rhombus than a rectangle. Honestly, I cannot believe the US Patent Office granted a trademark that is so broad.

Having said this, the WSJ article does do a pretty good job of explaining non-traditional trademarks in laymen terms as well as the entire process for Apple to trademark the shape.

Tags: iPod, Apple, trademark

Friday, May 9, 2008

iTunes - Pay More Get Less

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 PM


"For example, Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 on 256-bit DRM-free MP3 is just $9.99 from Amazon. The same album is also $9.99 from Apple, but you get DRM. And there are tons of tracks on Amazon that are actually less expensive than on iTMS, so you get better music for less money without the DRM hassle. So is Apple screwing the customers? In a word, no. The reason you can find more music on Amazon at a lower price is that the Record Labels want it that way. Do you think they charge Apple and Amazon the same price for each track and Apple simply charges you more and pockets the difference as a higher markup? The labels would like you to think that, but they actually charge Amazon less for each track, and that’s how Amazon can charge you less."

There is some interesting logic to this article. There were no references, so I have no idea if the labels actually sell to Amazon for less than Apple. I certainly follow that the record companies want Amazon in the game to keep Apple in check. However, I disagree that this will let the record labels take back control AND allow them to keep DRM. I think at this point they have to choose either/or. If they want to keep DRM in place, then they are stuck with Apple calling the shots. If they are willing to go DRM free, then competition can at least keep Apple in check .

Tags: Apple, Amazon, MP3

Friday, January 18, 2008


Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 06:30 PM


"Use a red Zune to inform your Valentine that you have no future together with a message like; "If I really loved you, this would have been an iPod Touch instead" or send this sweet message to your babies momma; "When your squircle gets stuck think of me... because I'm stuck with you and now you're stuck with Zune". Take the opportunity to tell your little gold digger how much she means to you by buying her a gift that's sure to have her doubting your intentions for the rest of the year. Place your order at Zune Originals by February 4th to ensure delivery by Valentine's Day. Because nothing says "I think so very little of you" better than sending someone a brand new Zune."

I can appreciate a good bit of humor as much as the next guy. Head over to iPhoneSavior.com for their take on the red 80.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tip Tuesday: Zune on Mac (Software)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 02:00 PM

It's no secret that the iPod didn't start to take off in popularity until Apple released a Windows version of its iTunes client software--many people would argue that the iPod would not be the success it is today were it not for Windows support. At the same time, the Portable Media Player battle is often seen as a microcosm of the OS Wars, with the two players reversing roles.

Currently , Apple's iTunes client runs on both Windows and Mac OSX, while Microsoft's Zune software is Windows-only. Is it worth it for Microsoft to port the Zune software to OSX, in effect "giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell"? Sure, it would give the tech pundits one more thing to scratch off the list of preconceived issues with the Zune family, but would it actually matter? We'll leave that kind of hardcore thinking for the Philosophers, because today is Tuesday, and Tuesday is hardcore thinking-free!

Installing Zune on a Mac is just like installing on a Windows machine, except...virtual. Fret not, fellow Zuner, it's not as bad as you'd think. Sure you've got to acquire a virtual machine software (like VMWare or Parallels) or run Boot Camp and install a copy of Windows, but you can handle that, right?

After that, just install the software as you normally would, and you're in Virtual Zune paradise. Just don't forget the paper umbrellas.

The process should be similar with VMWare on Linux. Though I haven't heard any reports about this year's software, Zune-Online's Kostas Tzounopoulos showed that it could be done with gen1 software, the only caveat being that USB 1.1 was the only supported transfer method (a.k.a. slow data transfer).

And that's it for this week! Check back next week for another tip. Got any idea, thought, or suggestion? Paste it in the comments link (I'll be nice, I promise) or check out the forum.

EDIT (12-12-07): Fixed atrocious grammar and general cleanup.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Zune 2 Rumors

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 02:30 PM

Phew. In just a couple days, the alleged "confirmation" of the Zune 2.0 has shot to the top of all the major tech blogs, and even a few of the bigger guys too.

This is both great news and terrible news. The great news is that it shows people are actually caring enough about Zune that it's moved beyond the mostly mocking and hyper-critical coverage it was getting at its inception. It also means that Microsoft has a great deal to live up to. Apple has proven itself in the hype arena, meeting and often greatly exceeding expectations. Now it's Microsoft's chance to step up. Many parallels have been drawn between the Zune and Microsoft's other big entertainment project, the Xbox. Many would agree that the original Xbox, while quite capable, was bested by the PS2 in nearly everywhere that counts. Now its successor, the Xbox 360, has set the standard for video game consoles in both device experience and entertainment value while the PS3 slowly rots.

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