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All posts tagged "sharing"

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Could Anyone Spare a Tune?

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"A few weeks ago, Newsweek technology columnist Steven Levy spoke to a group of Microsoft employees about the iPod and the book he wrote about Apple's music player. During his talk, Levy pulled out his Zune, the new pocket music and video player that Microsoft hopes will give the iPod some competition... But guess what? Even in an auditorium full of Microsofties, Levy's Zune couldn't find another Zune to talk to. Levy wrote on his blog that when he told the crowd that his Zune was feeling lonely, one person eventually popped up and sent him a song. It made me wonder: If the people who make and sell the Zune aren't buying into the music-player community idea, what's the chance that the rest of us will?"

Oo-oo! I know this one! Slim to none, right? Ric Manning goes on to say that even though the song-swapping process is smooth, that's not why he'd buy a Zune. I agree wholeheartedly, Ric. Microsoft keeps touting the Zune's WiFi sharing capabilities, but it's been implemented so poorly that geeks like us don't see anything special about it, and people less in the know are likely to find it a frustrating experience. I bought a Zune because of its great screen and sturdy build quality. I certainly didn't buy it because there are all these Zunes floating about waiting to share their songs with me. I've never even turned my Zune's WiFi on. I think I would have found an AM radio more useful...

Tags: wifi, sharing

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Startup to Create Real Wi-Fi Sharing Device

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Talk" @ 05:30 PM


"Three digital music veterans have launched a stealth startup and are close to unveiling both a new portable media player and what they're calling an "internet radio ecosystem," Wired News has learned... Capitalizing on their involvement in earlier generations of digital music devices and services and using what they learned the first time around, they're building a portable player they hope will be the first major step forward in the category since Apple released the iPod... The device will feature wireless connectivity, a new type of integration with online radio stations, a social aspect and most likely some sort of automatic customization feature for recommending new music, according to a source familiar with the product. It's unclear whether these features have all been finalized, however, and some details could change between now and the product launch. In interviews with Wired News, the company said it was "too early" to discuss which types of connectivity its device will offer, but disclosed that "traditional USB connections will (only) play a minor role in getting content to your device." A spokesman added that the device has yet to be officially named."

That sure didn't take long. I figured eventually someone would think "Say, DAP Wi-Fi sharing is a good idea. Too bad Microsoft dropped the ball on it. I know, let's just do it ourselves!", I just didn't think it would be this fast. Frankly we still haven't a clue whether Wi-Fi sharing is something people actually want or will use. Sure, we can all say "But does your DAP share via Wi-Fi?", but how many of use will ever actually do so? Probably not me, but then again my 'social' is real small. ;-)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Zune Evangelism in Retail Stores

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


"When we walked up to the Zune area he started looking at the accessories while I caught a bit of a conversation between a young man and a couple at the Zune demo area. Turns out the Zune on display was not functioning and the couple was looking to by one. The young man owned one and was explaining why he thought it was the best "MP3" player out. I interjected and told about my son and his buddies sharing last night which the couple thought was cool. My son then hearing me offered to let them take a look at his since the display was not working. The other young man at this point said something about not thinking and pulled out his Zune (just for clarification this is the first time ever I have been at the Zune stand and seen tow people with Zunes together. I hope it is a sign of things to come.). Then he and my son proceeded to demo the whole sharing piece which really wowed the couple. When my son and I left the couple was having a Circuit City representative assist them in getting a white one (so it would look like their friends iPod). I really wish we would see this kind of explicit advertising letting people know exactly what the Zune is capable of."

I thought this was a great story - have you been doing any "Zune Evangelising" (I'm going to resist the urge to call it something like "Zunegelising" or another equally horrid term) in any retail stores, or even amongst your friends? Retail stores in particular are always a bit odd for me - I really enjoy helping people with technology, and teaching them about what to look for, but I also don't like being the guy that the staff complains about ("Why is that idiot customer doing our job for us?"). Sometimes big box retail staff are happy to have help, but it gets a little bit dicey when they're giving our false information and you correct them - like the Best Buy salesperson who told a customer the 120 GB 2.5" portable hard drive he was looking at was "flash-based" and "had no moving parts". I just had to speak up then, and the Best Buy employee didn't seem to appreciate it much.

What has it been like talking about the Zune features - do you find it's a hard sell, or are people eager to Join the Social after you show them what it can do? Or are they put off by some of the limitations around WiFi sharing and supported video formats? I know that when I tell people about the WiFi sharing they're instantly interested, but when I explain the 3 days/3 plays limitation they say "Oh, never mind then" - it seems to kill the deal for them. What has your experience been?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Zunerama Replicates Jason's Song Sharing Test

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Talk" @ 04:00 PM


"This week, Jason from ZuneThoughts noted some underwhelming wireless sharing results among Zune owners at CES, and from his own spot-checking. Zune's wireless sharing is described by Microsoft with a footnote - indicating that "the Zune to Zune sharing feature may not be available for all audio files on your device". Curious about this, I conducted a test of my own. I pulled down the top 50 songs downloaded from Zune Marketplace, using my Zune Pass subscription. I then created a playlist of those 50 songs, and attempted to wirelessly send the whole playlist to my wife's Zune. When the transfer completed, a message appeared on my player: "Can't send some songs because of rights restrictions. 29 of 50 songs sent to Carrie's Zune"."

Well, even though everyone's acting as though Zunerama thought up the test, at least he gives Jason credit for having performed the initial test. And his results, that 58% of Zune Marketplace songs can't be shared, pretty much jive with Jason's 62% result. So there you have it. Personally I think that if the number were in the 30% failure range, Microsoft's 'mum' strategy might be fine, but when most (over 50%) of the songs can't be shared, it's time to clue us in and let us know which songs are share-able and which aren't.

Tags: test, sharing, 58%, 62%

Friday, January 12, 2007

Could 3 Days / 3 Plays Be Up For Review?

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 06:30 AM


"Zune owners can share songs with each other, but the music will only last for three days or three plays, whichever comes first. And that restriction is present regardless of whether the song is copyrighted. But in a meeting coming up soon between executives of the music industry and at Microsoft, those restrictions will be up for review."

One of the most advertised, and criticized, features of the Zune is its wireless capabilities. Zune's wireless offers much promise, but is very lacking in its current implementation. We are currently limited to photo and music sharing, and as you know, the music sharing is hampered by a 3 day or 3 play DRM restriction, even if the source material isn't copyrighted. Well, this limitation, as well as other wireless scenarios, could soon be under fire at a meeting between Microsoft and music industry executives. We will have to wait and see what comes out of this meeting. Considering the music industry’s and Microsoft's, track records, my hopes aren't very high.

Tags: wifi, sharing, drm

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Top 10 Tech Ideas of 2006

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 AM


"The Zune, Microsoft’s new music player, does something amazingly well that its rival, the iPod, doesn’t do at all: It lets you beam songs or photos wirelessly to another Zune. It’s easy and fast, and it could be a great way to discover new music recommended by your friends."

The New York Times gives us a rundown of the Top 10 technology related ideas of 2006. With all the bad press Zune has received, I was surprised to see Zune's file sharing right there on the list. While the Times does hail the idea as brilliant, it does admit that the execution of the idea is a little lack-luster. I pretty much agree with their assessment; the idea of music beaming is a good one. Unfortunately, between the too restrictive DRM and lack of Zunes to share with, we users are still left wanting. Here's to improving the functionality of this great idea in 2007!

Tags: sharing

Monday, December 4, 2006

PvPonline.com: Welcome to the Social

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 12:00 PM


I couldn't help but chuckle at PvPonline.com's Friday comic (click the link to see the entire strip), which harmlessly stabbed the Zune and its sharing capabilities. It brings forth a question that's been on my mind for quite some time: how many of you have successfully shared music with a friend's or stranger's Zune, liked the music, and followed through and purchased it (either from the Zune Marketplace or your favourite 'brick and mortar' store)? I'm guessing not many, given Zune's current day infancy.

Hey Mr. DJ, Play that Song Again

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 08:30 AM


"Ever want to share the same song on your Zune again? Here’s How!"

(Photo Courtesy Gizmodo)

Zune's sharing feature currently gives you three plays or three days to listen to shared content. Once a song has been shared with another Zune, you cannot share that same song with the device again. Using the hard-drive access hack, and these five steps from FadeproofOnline, you can wipe all knowledge of shared songs from the Zune, enabling you to share a song for another three plays. The Zune hacks keep rolling in!

Tags: sharing, share, hack

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gartner: Music Sharing Matters

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:00 AM


"Microsoft sees the youthful audience for the Zune wireless-sharing MP3 player (which allows music sharing for three days or three plays, then gives users a chance to buy it) and associated downloading service as more than just a target market, said industry analysts: It also sees it as an ally in its quest to topple the king-of-the-hill Apple iPod/iTunes. Mike McGuire, VP of research for mobile devices and consumer services at Gartner Inc., San Jose, Calif., said he sees Microsoft's social-networking strategy as being based on recommendations that lead to sales. "The social nature of music as a form of currency is well established," he said. "But from the larger industry perspective, where it gets interesting and powerful is when music sharing can lead to actual purchase.""

With a limited distribution base and restricted playback rights, Zune's sharing capabilities via Wi-Fi may not be all that appealing, but Gartner thinks that Microsoft is on the right track. The end goal is to have music discovery lead to sales, and sales lead to more money in the pockets of Microsoft and the labels. Of course, it won't take off until users receive some sort of incentive for sharing. Until then, only one party benefits.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

All Fun and Games, Until Somone Gets Squirted in the Eye

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 01:00 PM


"Spontaneously browsing a nearby music collection could result in any number of fascinating outcomes. How cool would it be to sit in a subway or take a break in a gym and check out the contents of the nearby music players, then try to visually identify the Miles Davis fan, the Ramones rocker and the Barry Manilow sentimentalist?"

Ah... "squirting". That wonderful, visual inducing phrase unofficially coined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in reference to Zune's wireless sending capabilities during a BusinessWeek interview. Much ado has been made about Zune's wireless capabilities, or lack thereof. The first wave of devices are quite limited, using wireless for simple Zune to Zune sharing of photos and songs. (Unless you plan on playing Santa this year, and buying Zunes for all your friends and family, how useful is this feature right now?) Newsweek talks about how Zune's wireless comes up a little short, and discusses how Microsoft might make the Social a little more Sociable, such as allowing other Zunes to browse your library to see what you're into. So how about it? Would you allow your Zune library to be viewed by the public? Would you actually approach a stranger and use their Zune playlist to strike up a conversation? (And please, Mr. Ballmer, can we come up with a better term?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zune Pays to Share? Yes.

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 12:00 PM


"When we last left off, the consensus was that Microsoft was still planning on rewarding song sharing with the Zune. Now we've got pretty much confirmation - unofficial, that is - that Microsoft is planning this feature. At a conference in Seattle this past Saturday, both J Allard and Christina Calio, both from the Zune team, talked about implementing such a system. The Zune team plans to reward people with Microsoft Marketplace Points, the same points you use on both Zune Marketplace and Xbox 360 Marketplace."

Courtesy of Artghost.com

So after all of last month's suggestions, it looks like you may get paid to share after all - paid in Microsoft Points, that is - although, I don't think it'll be as simple as it sounds. For example, Microsoft will have to put in some safeguards to prevent unauthorized sharing (i.e., spamming one's own secondary device). And how will offline users benefit from Points? So many questions, so few answers.

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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Zune and DRM

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 02:00 PM


"For starters, Digital Rights Management, commonly known as DRM, is any technology that is put in place by content holders to control access or usage of digital content (in this case digital music). Most content providers in the industry, mainly the major record companies, believe that it is necessary to maintain control over the distribution, and replication of content, and the ability to assign limited control over content. Their main concern hinges on the illegal spread of content over the internet, and loss of sales. For many people and organizations, DRM is not only a hassle, but also something that must be destroyed at all costs. Their belief is that DRM allows content holders to write their own rules and have them backed by the DMCA, that it erodes pervious capabilities, stifles creativity, innovation, and competition…as well as being a royal pain in the ass."

Charlie over at Zune Corps has written up a piece on DRM and how it will impact the Zune. When it comes to buying songs from the Zune Marketplace, the Zune is really no better or worse than the iPod. One could argue that's a problem, because if it's no better, then that's not going to be a factor to lure iPod users. On the other hand, with the Zune Marketplace subscription, as long as you keep paying the $14.99 USD a month, you don't have to think about DRM, because everything you can see in the Marketplace you can download.

My main concern with DRM on the Zune is the 3 day/3 play is applied to every single song you share from the Zune - I don't think it's Microsoft's place to police content on my Zune. If I want to share a ripped CD with a friend who has a Zune, the ethical and legal ramifications of that should be on my shoulders - Microsoft shouldn't be stepping in the middle. By the same token, if I load up some podcasts or original songs I put together and I want to give that content away for others to keep, why shouldn't I be able to? It doesn't matter that the DRM is part of the hardware and not applied to the song itself, the end result is still the same. Forcing people to have to go back to their computers to re-download the audio file so they can keep it is inane, and nullifies some of the utility that the Zune's WiFi sharing has. I don't know how much of the 3 day/3 day DRM came from music studio pressure, and how much of it was from the Zune team themselves, but no matter how you slice it, it's a bad idea that's going to hurt the adoption of the player.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Slyck Talks Zune and Creative Commons

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:49 AM


"Take a pre-existing license adopted hundreds of thousands of times. Mix creators and activists with DRM (Digital Rights Management.) Throw in a little Microsoft Zune technology and pour it all into a mixing bowl. Stir well and serve to several hundred thousand captive audience members in cups of controversy. It certainly appears that a firestorm has emerged out of Zune's "viral DRM" and the DRM clause in the Creative Commons license. Is this a blatant attack on Creative Commons creators or is all of this nothing more then a cloud of smoke?"

Drew Wilson at Slyck has posted an interesting article that discusses the possibility of Zune violating Creative Commons licenses. While many valid points are raised, most seem unlikely to put Microsoft and users of the Zune product in a spot of trouble. There's a fine line between offering users the freedom to share and protecting one's assets, and Microsoft has hit that line by implementing its 3 days / 3 plays feature. Microsoft can't detect any copyrights attached to media being shared, so a universal DRM wrapper is put in place. Copyrighted content stays protected, while everything else suffers, simply because it's better to stay safe than to feel sorry later.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jobs on Zune's Sharing: Too Slow

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:52 AM


"I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left! You're much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you're connected with about two feet of headphone cable."

That's a quote from Newsweek's interview with Apple's head honcho, Steve Jobs. While the Zune's wireless sharing feature is a little crippled in its current form, I do think it has potential, yet Apple appears to not even embrace the concept. Could this say something about future iPods? Will they never incorporate any sort of sharing capabilities?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Sharing Songs and Pictures with the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:52 PM


Figure 1: Discovering neighbouring Zunes (and what the user is listening to). Privacy alert! ;-)

And the videos just keep flowing. Duncan Mackenzie from on10.net, and his buddy, Brian Johnson, got their hands on two pre-production Zunes and decided to put Microsoft's 3 plays / 3 days sharing to the test. Everything seems quite fluid, though don't expect it to work all that great outside of the US, where come November 14, the Zune will be almost non-existent. Duncan's video is five-and-a-half minutes long. If you don't have time to watch it, check out some of our screen grabs after the break.


Monday, October 2, 2006

Zune WiFi Sharing Explained

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:23 AM


David Caulton from Zunester explains exactly what you can and can't do with WiFi on the Zune in his post over at Zunester. The explanation is a mixed bag - it's pretty much what I was expecting, though some of it's a disappointment. Here's what you can do out of the box:
  • You can discover nearby Zunes to create an ad-hoc network (Zune to Zune) and interact with those players. Range is an unknown at this point. It's WiFi based, so one would hope it would be a few hundred feet, but it's also going to be a low-power chipset so they may have sacrificed range in order to achieve greater battery life. Given the scenarios related to music sharing, I don't imagine you'd need to have 1000 feet of range.
  • Once connected to that other Zune, you can send it a song or an entire album. The tracks are wrapped in a 3/3 DRM package: the songs can be kept for three plays or three days, whichever comes first. After that, the songs are deleted the next time the Zune is synched. Notice they're not deleted immediately on the device - and since the Zune is an updated Gigabeat S PMC, there's probably no delete function on the device itself. That could make for some full hard drives if a lot of Zune owners get together and don't sync often.
  • There's a lot of confusion about the 3/3 DRM. I've asked for clarification from a Microsoft contact: what happens if I create a song in ACID, put it on my Zune, and want to share it with everyone else. Will that song, wholly my own creation, have DRM on it? Some sites are reporting yes, some sites are reporting no. I aim to answer the question once and for all shortly...
  • Transmitted songs include all the metadata and album art. No word yet on whether the Zune supports embedded album art. I'm waiting on a response from a Microsoft contact on that issue.
  • You can send photos for unlimited viewing, and they can sync back to the PC. I imagine that means 320 x 240 JPEGs, which I presume is what the Zune will transcode the images to, unless the Zune desktop app allows for more control than Windows Media Player 11 (doubtful).
So that's the good news - none of it unexpected given what we know of the Zune so far. Equally unexpected is the news of what the Zune will not be able to do at launch:
  • The Zune will not be able to connect to the Internet
  • The Zune will not be able to download songs over the air from the Zune Marketplace
  • The Zune will not synchronize with your PC using WiFi
Frankly, I'm disappointed, though not all that surprised. It would have been a killer scenario to be able to load up your Zune with new content sitting at the airport (from the Zune Marketplace) or sitting in your bed (from your PC). Those are scenarios that blow open the current paradigm of digital audio players being slaves to desktops and laptops, and Microsoft isn't taking advantage of them. Why? I suspect it's the same old thing that guides most new products: do a few things, do them well, then add on more new things in the next version. The question is, will that be enough to make a splash in the market?

Tags: songs, wifi, sharing

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