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All posts tagged "future"

Monday, December 6, 2010

20 Dying Technologies: Agree or Disagree?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 12:00 PM


"All too often, the hottest devices and coolest gadgets of the moment are dusty in the marketplace before the ink is dry on the receipt. And the pace of replacement is getting faster every year. Indeed, there are so many game-changers in the world of technology that the death knell is sounding on many a device that we use every day."

There are some obvious ones on this list - like the fax machine, though that's been "dying" for many years now - but some of them are real head-scratchers. Take gaming consoles for instance; this article says that ten years from now we'll have Internet-connected TVs and, apparently, all our gaming will be done online. Really? Maybe for a quick game of SuDoKu with a friend, but I can't see TVs having the same level of hardware, software, performance, and polish that a gaming console has. I firmly believe in products that are really good at their primary task, not products that are sort of good at a lot of things. And gaming is also about platforms; who really believes that the TV industry will be able to get together and cooperate on creating a unified hardware specification for game developers to target? Not going to happen.

Oh, and point and shoot digital cameras are also on list this of dying technologies - that one's a bit easier to swallow, because cameras on smartphones are getting better, but I think it's going to take quite a few years and advances in folded optics, image sensor quality, performance, and battery life before people won't prefer a dedicated digital camera.

What's your take on the items on this list?

Friday, September 17, 2010

ZuneHD2 on the Way?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:48 PM


It's that time of year again. New iPods are out, and the next generation Zunes can't be far behind. Or can they? There's been a great deal of talk whether the Zune HD will be the last or second to last hardware Zune Microsoft produces. It's clear Zune's future lies in a platform, on PC, Xbox and Windows Phone, but a new Hardware version may have something to offer that the last few iterations couldn't. WMPowerUser via Engadget seems to think that an MS job posting for a hardware specialist focusing on “next generation of portable entertainment and communication devices” has something to do with a Microsoft-produced PMP or phone handset. Given the success of the iPod/iTunes same foundation in iOS (and to a similar extent the UI innovations from Zune HD that eventually made their way to WP7), it makes sense for Microsoft to consolidate the media player and phone OS teams. If Microsoft can produce a phone-less Windows Phone 7 the way Apple has with the iPod Touch they may have a chance, albeit a small one. Microsoft and Apple have already killed off their once-popular dedicated harddrive-based players in favor of multifunction touchscreen models (iPod shuffle notwithstanding). And after the Kin debacle, I can't imagine Microsoft bigwigs are in a hurry to reenter the consumer dumbphone market with an in-house handset. As exciting as it would be to have a cheaper, contract-less Windows Phone for apps, music and video, the platform has at most one or two more iterations before being killed off. Is it even viable for Microsoft to release another ZuneHD at this point?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Will Zune Evolve?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:00 AM

"Microsoft is considering whether it should port the Zune software and services to other platforms, including Apple’s. There’s no guarantee that the Redmondians will end up doing this - or timetable as to when this could happen - but it’s one of many strategies under active consideration. That’s what I heard today from Jose Pinero, Director of Communications for Microsoft’s TV, Video and Music Business. I had a chance to chat with Pinero at Microsoft’s consumer open-house showcase in New York on October 6."

Going along with the news of a definite Microsoft commitment to putting the Zune platform on Windows phones, this article at ZDNet is even more interesting. Microsoft would be willing, going forward to support other platforms, including Apple. What exactly does that mean? Just Zune software on the Mac? Apparently not! Microsoft even is thinking in terms of direct iPod support. Now I don't know if that's realistic or not but its something they have on the table.

The bigger picture you get from this article is Microsoft's view of what the Zune platform is to their business. Zune has always been somewhat strange for Microsoft. They tend to build ecosystems for others to play in. Even the XBox follows that mold since a game system, by default, needs broad support from game publishers to survive and thrive. The Zune though has been Microsoft's closed platform. Microsoft controls the entire experience from end to end.

But that's not how they view the Zune platform internally, according to this article. Zune is viewed as their media platform for their entire product line. They're not talking about the players either. They're talking about the whole Zune experience. Could this mean Microsoft eventually licensing out the mobile platform? After Plays For Sure I'm not sure how many would jump on that.

It will be interesting to see where it goes. With the Zune set to make an appearance eventually on Windows phones, that will certainly give an instantly broader market and really that would be the first real challenge to iPod/iPhone dominance because that platform is widespread enough to compete already. Many people are happy to carry one device around and I could see that more than anything causing some erosion in the DMP market.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Zune's Not Dead (So Stop Asking!)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 PM


"The demise of the Zune as a device is premature. In an interview with the P-I, Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach acknowledged that "We have already started to see some flattening and even declining in the stand-alone MP3 player market. I think you'll see that continue." But he also said he did not think the device would go away, at least in the short term. "I just think it's not going to be where most of the growth is," he said. "We have some great assets in the software we do for the Zune -- both on the PC and on the Zune device -- as well as the services we provide -- Zune Social, Zune Marketplace. We see opportunities for those beyond what we do on the device itself."

It's amazing how easily a two-sentence sound bite can be taken out of context. Steve Balmer and Robbie Bach's comments last week about the future of Zune have lead many tech bloggers to declare that the Zune project is on its last legs. Sure, Zunes haven't been selling as well as they probably should have by this point, but there are several fairly easy ways to get into the black—most of which Microsoft should've done since the beginning. Things like releasing internationally, putting the platform on more hardware, and a deeper integration with other Microsoft services would be a great start, and to what I think Balmer was referring. Others, like C|Net's Matt Assay think Microsoft should get out of the media player business altogether:

"Microsoft should not be in the Zune business. Period. No amount of Apple envy should have taken Microsoft into the Zune, and its best option is a quick exit. Let's face it: Microsoft is not cool. That's reality. It's an enterprise software company and, however much one may dress up enterprise software, it's still not sexy or cool. Billions of dollars in profit, however, is cool, and Microsoft has that in spades. Sure, it risks losing out on the digital-entertainment revolution by not having a music delivery platform, but there are other ways to get into that business without trying to beat Apple at its own game."

Chris at GotZune rightfully tears into this argument, but I couldn't let this level of stupidity go by unchecked. It would be foolhardy of Microsoft to go into the next decade without a strong content distribution and entertainment platform. And, as the developer of the world's most popular operating system, is in the best position to bring connected entertainment to the masses. Far from being irrelevant, I believe Zune actually fits perfectly in with the "three-screen" strategy Balmer unveiled at CES. As entertainment that perfectly spans all three media (PC, mobile, TV), games, music, and video have the opportunity to be constantly connected and deeply integrated with Microsoft's other Internet- and cloud-based services. Marketplace (with Zune Pass) on the Zune device is already a great example of this. Extending Zune service to Xbox and Windows Mobile platforms will fill in key experiences for consumers and ensure Microsoft's relevance for years to come.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What’s Really Happening with the Zune

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 05:30 PM


"I bought a zune because I saw the vision Microsoft had for the XBox 360, and I fully understood the direction they were going to take the zune. and now, with the software version 2.5, they are oh so close to being there."

Aaron Linne wrote a great piece on the direction of the Zune brand. He brings up the common arguments against Zune and the Social, but rebuts them by bringing up a scenario in which Cesar Menendez sent him (and everyone else on Cesar's friend list) a link to the new Tokyo Police album. What differentiates this scenario in the Zune ecosystem from other social network/audio scrobbling services is that Zune not only features a tighter integration between the different services (e.g. one-click downloads of other peoples' recommended songs), but also the unlimited download Zune Pass. Using a Pass, I can download as many tracks as I want without any extra cost. The ones I don't like I just get rid of; I don't have to worry about wasting $20 on songs I don't really like. This is a huge value to me as a music consumer, and makes the Zune ecosystem that much stronger.

I think Linne sums up the Zune brand perfectly: "iTunes is for people who like certain musicians. Zune is for people like music."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Zune Luv : What's Next For Zune?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Talk" @ 09:39 PM


"Microsoft has sold a million Zunes - or at least the report goes. Now that they've proven they can get another consumer product into the hands of consumers, here's a plan for what they need to do to make the Zune the kind of consumer product people are excited to get into their hands."

Given the poor response to the 1.4 update released today, Zune Luv has some really great ideas for what Microsoft should be aiming for now that there are nearly a million sold Zunes. I will give a hint: it doesn't involve WiFi. You can read the original article to see their ideas but read on here to see what I thought of their ideas. I kept their bullet points and italicized what they said if I felt it was needed to understand my explanation. Read on!

Turn On Podcasting ASAP. I couldn't agree more with Zune Luv here. If only because then people wouldn't have it as something to wave as a flaw. Podcasting is very important to many people.

Extend Podcasting's Feature Set. You can do stuff that iTunes can't - start doing it. Imagine a world where one Podcaster beams their Podcast to another (or one fan to another) and when they return to the Zune Marketplace, they get a message along the lines of "Would you like to subscribe to the Podcast you were recently beamed?" That would generate more good press and more new subscriptions than anything I can think of right now. Podcasters would love you for it - and I dare say it would sell a few more Zunes.

This is really a brilliant idea and while I've never thought of it in regards to Podcasting, I have thought of this being a great feature for subscription users. If you have a shared song that's available via subscription, the Zune should also update that song and add it to your library if you marked it for such.

Embrace the Podcasting Community. While I like the thinking here, I'm not sure how much room there is for Microsoft to really embrace the community. I think simply supporting podcasting is really more than enough. When Apple embraced them it propelled a fledgling technology.

Give Zune Another Killer Feature. Zune Luv thinks the killer feature for the Zune is video rentals and I could not agree more. This is something I’ve thought about since the day I heard about the Zune. If Microsoft pulled this of I think it would be a paradigm shift for portable media.

Go Viral In Ways That Aren't In The Viral 101 Class At The Local Community College. While this is also a good idea it’s probably the most difficult. The whole idea behind viral is that its community created and propagated. It really should be spontaneous. I think its hard to generate a viral campaign at the corporate level.

Find Some Very Cool Xbox 360 Tie-Ins. This is another obvious one that simply needs to be exploited. The Zune does work very nicely with the XBox. If it could be used as a game accessory somehow that would really be nice. Using it to play music on my XBox has limited value for me since I have my whole library accessible through my network..

Get The Story Straight. Zune went to market at amazing speeds. It's a fascinating little moment in Microsoft's history that I truly believe, one day, the "books" will write about. But, you can't let the time to market be less than the time from market to message. The Windows Media 11 / Urge/ Zune Marketplace / Plays for Sure thing is a mess. Find a way to tell the story better.

I really like what Zune Luv started with this. Of course my response when I saw the title was "Two million". What does everyone else here think that the Zune team should be shooting for going forward?

Tags: zune, future

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Suggestions for the Zune Phone? List 'em!

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 11:30 PM


The Zune Phone ideas are arriving in swarms, so in a bid to manage it all, the folks at ZuneSphere have dutifully rounded them up and added their own. So far, Live Anywhere support, wireless sync, ease of use, 3G, and Bluetooth feature prominently in everyone's books, but I know that a few of you have some significant ideas that have yet to be mentioned, so leave your mark in this thread and let's hope the product team at Microsoft is reading.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Video Sharing Is a Go

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:00 PM


"Microsoft Corp. plans to add a video-sharing feature to its Zune player and will eventually sell a model that combines the device with a phone, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said. The video function would probably be used to transfer content created by Zune customers, Ballmer said in an interview today from Redmond, Washington. He declined to comment on when Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, would add video sharing or announce a phone model."

We were only just talking about future-proofing a couple of hours ago, and look, Microsoft has already outlined one of its plans. The Zune phone isn't news, though the bit about video sharing is. Ballmer's description makes it sound almost like an offline YouTube, which I have to admit, is pretty interesting, though what Microsoft really needs to focus on first is getting more Zune devices out into the market (and I'm talking on a global scale), so that the mass sharing that it has in mind can turn from concept into reality.

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