Apple’s iPod will soon be facing some new competition. On Nov. 14, the electronics giant, Microsoft is set to launch its own digital media player called the Zune.
The iPod has been hugely successful since its launch almost five years ago. Apple has reported sales of over 60 million units and over 1.5 billion songs from its iTunes music store.
Despite Apple’s success, the company recently revamped its line of digital media players and introduced its new Nano line, which includes much smaller versions of iPod that hold an impressive four gigabytes of music. Apple has also released the video iPod in both 30 and 80 gb models.
The Zune will be released with a 30 gigabyte capacity; the same as the iPod’s base model. It will retail for $249.99, only $0.99 more than the comparable iPod. So what does the consumer get with the Zune for the extra buck that they don’t with an iPod?
First, the Zune allows the user to wirelessly share full length sample tracks, playlists or pictures with any other Zune user. If users decide they like the songs friends send, they can then log into Microsoft’s new online music store, the Zune Marketplace, and purchase it. Microsoft plans to offer both individual downloads and a monthly subscription to the Zune Marketplace. The $15 monthly subscription will allow users to play any song in the Zune Marketplace, but they will not be permitted to keep songs on their Zunes permanently.
The Zune is designed to be fully customizable. The 3- inch LCD video screen can play movies or show pictures in either landscape or portrait mode, maximizing the video and picture display. It is also designed to let the user know when software updates are available so it will constantly be up-to-date. The Zune also comes complete with a built-in FM radio tuner, a distinct departure from the iPod.
Even with all the additional features offered on the Zune, one would assume people would be at least a little reluctant to give up their iPod. So if Quinnipiac students had an extra $250 lying around, which media player would they choose?
Katie Maceira, a senior public relations major, said she would pick the Zune.
“I haven’t had much luck with my iPod,” she said. “It broke about five months after I got it and when you send it in to get fixed it takes eight weeks. So I’d most likely try out the Zune.”
Some students were a little more reluctant to abandon their trusty iPods.
“I love my iPod and have never had a problem with it,” said Katie Korb, a sophomore public relations major. “But if I had to choose between the Zune and the iPod I’d probably pick the Zune.”
Kerri Wadeyka, a junior marketing major, has admittedly had problems with her iPod Mini, but would still choose the iPod over the Zune.
“The new iPod has been out for a while and they are fixing all the things that are wrong with it,” she said. “Most likely the Microsoft one is going to have problems since it’s the newest one out. I would pick the iPod and then wait a while to see how the Microsoft one is doing.”
It seems students are divided between the two products which could be bad news for Apple’s reported 76% market share of digital media players in the U.S.
More information on the new Zune from Microsoft is available at www.microsoft.com.