I’m going to sort of disagree with this. I think most of the world doesn’t know that they actually DO care. …and I think Apple has done a good effort in defining what this means in their process. Jobs may not have a design degree and sure he lets the professionals do what they do in the company, but he is a USER (professional user?)of the product just like anyone else who might wander in an Apple store and buy something.

You’ve basically said that MS did a good job because of what existing suppliers were capable of offering them! This is the heart of the issue that spawned this thread: it appears to be (literally) “in the box thinking” that’s leveraging suppliers that exist in the wake of the iPod. It’s pure incremental innovation, where the iPod is textbook revolutionary innovation (in both product and service.) Is that wrong? Fast-followers are proven to win in the long term… I just don’t see how the Zune will be considered the fast-follower given what they’re offering in competition. I still believe that MS is after the non-iPod MP3 player market (like in Asia as you’ve suggested.)

No one can argue that the gap between the original Creative Nomad and the iPod is an order of magnitude wider than the gap between today’s Zune and and iPod line. That kind of objective comparison is how I’d measure how good of a job they’ve done.

d-flux: no surprise to folks here, but our competition doesn’t tend to share their product roadmaps with us :wink:

And as someone who’s helped try to correct speculation about our own future products, I take the gizmodo post w/ a grain of salt until I hear it from Apple directly.

I told Steve Kaneko to get the questions you all posed earlier in the thread back to me by EOD today. Which, in Microsoft speak, can mean before 9:00 am monday. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

I usually refrain from defending myself because I don’t want to sound like I am attacking anyone, but I have one clarification for Eddison and an elaboration for cg.

Eddison, I agree with what you said, but I think you misunderstood me. I agree that “most of the world doesn’t know that they actually DO care” (about design) but what I said was, “I wish that everyone had and made their buying decisions on their design sensibilities” This is to say that most of the world (EU and US are about 1/7 of the world) does not have the ability to recognize and appreciate design. This inability is due to not having been exposed to it. If they were, I am sure they would care.

There are so many fake iPods in China but I was amazed to find out first hand that the common person could not tell the difference when set side by side. You or I could tell the fake a mile away (or a Kilometer away if you are not from the US :slight_smile:. Most people only saw a white top with chrome back and a round wheel thing. They did not even notice the lack of co-molding, the part line between the screen and the front cabinet, or all the shrink marks, uneven part lines, and bad proportions that I saw on the fake. Being American and a designer, this was a big eye opener.

Cg, unless your company is prepared to either buy a factory or place a PO for over a million units with BOM costs of around US$200, you will have to stay within the box. This may not seem like it is a big deal, but when you add in the facts that Apple has 80 percent market share in the US, and you are trying to make deals with distributors that could handle that many players from a new entry (as big as MS is they are still small in the MP3 area) combined with all the marcom costs, royalties, and taxes you are going to have to lay down to compete with Apple, this becomes a huge, huge undertaking for an underdog. If worked out in a business plan you would be losing money on every player (as MS will). Apple can make it happen because they do own the factories and they do place million unit PO’s. Plus the factories will lower their profit margin just to work with Apple because it will turn into business from others. It is just about business strategy. BTW, I wonder if Apple does not include a FM receiver just because they don’t want to pay the radio tax in Europe. Well, probably not the best bang for the buck either.

I would disagree that “iPod is textbook revolutionary innovation”. The MP3 player had been around for sometime, Napster and the other P2P networks were also around. People were already doing the “iPod idea”, just with different businesses filling each area. As I stated, the idea had been around at Philips for several years before it was brought to Apple. Philips did not do the software/hardware combination thing. Their structure was not setup for it. But doing the SW/HW combination was exactly what Apple was already doing. MS still does not do the HD/SW combo thing very well (IMHO). It is not the game they are playing. But they do have a hold on the gaming/internet/software thing. If Zune plays to these strengths then MS may just get a big foot in the door.

There are a lot of students that read these boards, I would hope we would emphasize that being a good designer has a lot to do with understanding business and the competitive landscape not just making the coolest design ever. Otherwise we are relegated to being stylists and that would be missing the point of design.

I think by now you are getting the idea that I may have had some personal experience going up against Apple. I don’t work for MS so I would be very interested to see what they have to say. I am quite sure that Apple is on their benchmark analysis. I am just interested to see how much of a roll did it play. I would be very surprised if it was not a major influence. Even if just to say, hey, that is them, they have that area, avoid it if possible but learn from them.

why would you announce you super-flagship with your recent new updates? so that people will wait for it instead of buying your products that just hit the market? that didnt make sense to me. Apple is well known for “freshening” up their look slightly and making small improvements for every release they make. everyone will want the new ipod, which isnt incredibly different from its predecessor (except for ipod video perhaps) but they still sell a buttload.

I posted the article not for the release date as much, but for an upcoming ipod that will surpass the Zune’s features. If the Zune and new Ipod touchscreen widescreen wireless thing were released 6 months apart, with the Ipod released at the later date, would you think the Zune would have a chance at long-term success?

Completely understood. I guess my question was: this Ipod rumor has been around for quite a while. Did the Zune team take possible future products like this into consideration for their design? Even if it is a rumor, there is still a possibility its true, and if it is, then Zune will face much tougher competition. If it is not, and the Zune DID take it into consideration, then they would offer a much more advanced/more value in the product, and give the Ipod a bigger threat.

I’d say that’s a loosing strategy then!
Forget the price, DESIRE defines what things are worth.

Like I said initially, MS is going to have to be COOLER or CHEAPER than the iPod, and I just don’t see how cheaper is going to help them win, except to sweep up the other 20%. COOLER is possible though, there are plenty of unmet user needs, I just haven’t heard about the ZUNE solving them.

If you want to win today, you need to be following a “Blue Ocean Strategy.”

I would disagree that “iPod is textbook revolutionary innovation”.

Check out the “iPod innovation thread” to find out why you’re wrong.

There are a lot of students that read these boards, I would hope we would emphasize that being a good designer has a lot to do with understanding business and the competitive landscape not just making the coolest design ever. Otherwise we are relegated to being stylists and that would be missing the point of design.

Totally agree. Your comments about iPod knockoffs are a good lesson to learn: The “coolest design ever” today means a lot more than designing some object that can be duplicated. We’re all living in an Experiece economy, and iPod was tailor made to the American experience. “Designed by Apple in California” speaks volumes.

Ok, I got response back from Steve and posted the questions you all posited in Zuneinsider today. Check it out:


Thanks, Cesar!

I have to admit I am still left wondering about some things with respect to Zune and its Design. I have posted a long winded response over at my blog: http://www.aialone.com

In short, I am still left disappointed by the similar design language between Zune and iPod and I am still wondering how/why it was allowed to be so close in appearance. Steve’s “small sandbox” theory doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m bored.

CG…me too…so I did this for fun:

looks like your having some fun (judging by the image on the screen…)

Remember when we did the sketch session on the xbox in response to the xbox thread? Any interest?

ip_wirelessly: Thanks! I’m not bored anymore. You’re only missing one historical piece of context:

Originally it was portable CD players vs. the Creative Nomad:


Then Apple “Thinked Different”:


And then ZUNE came along:



There’s a couple of missing links there…not getting the creative nomad or either of the “thinked different” images

Yeah but finding one of those in use is like spotting sasquatch… just playing, I’m sure a lot of people go for the lower pricepoint stuff, but there isn’t to much in this high Gig zone is there?

yeah - Zune V2.0 sketch group sounds like fun. new aesthetics in consumer electronics. i’m in!

Sure, what the hell, I suppose I should be putting a little bit of my money where my mouth is wrt to this whole Zune thing.

Cesar, Yo:

Did anything come of the 10/28 meetup?

I couldn’t go because I was helping my wife hang a show that day… but I’m up for a reschedule…

The ZUNE TV spots are out.

I think it’s really interesting that they’ve done this in a straight-up “mockumentary” format which makes it appear that real people are already using ZUNES. It screams false marketing to me…I wonder how others will react. GenY is supposed to be hyper-sensitive to that.

They’re also pushing the “social” aspect. Does MS have user data showing that this is really what people want or will do with ZUNE? Interesting…

All in all, I think this answers my original question: MS is positioning ZUNE based on FEATURES, not on COOLNESS or PRICE. Is that a winning strategy?

I personally havent seen the ads, but over at Gizmodo theres a pretty heated debate in the comments section:

It seems the ad sucks as far as creativity goes, and it has produced a racial debate. I want to see the ads before i make my own conclusions, but it does look like microsoft doesnt get it with this one. too bad the videos are blocked at work :frowning: