You probably know by now that at least some of us here at pretty high on the Zune HD—look at the lengths I went to get it up and running!—but I recognize that not every Mac owner is going to jump through hoops just to be able to use the device. But maybe, just maybe, Microsoft is finally ready to do what so many people have asked it to do: make a Mac version of the Zune software, thereby enabling all the Mac owners out there to use the portable media player a little more easily.
The deal is that Microsoft is “evaluating a lot of options in terms of platforms.” So it told ZDNet at some sort of open house it hosted yesterday. (I was gonna go, but I stayed home and watched Dream 11. I’m not joking.) In plain English that means, yeah, Microsoft is looking to make it so that you can the Zune HD without having to be tethered to Windows.
And if that happens, you can kiss the iPod’s hegemony over.
What’s the top of the line iPod these days, the iPod touch? Yeah, it’s a neat device, I guess, but I think it’s safe to say that most people gravitate that-a-way because of all those damn Apps. That is to say, people aren’t necessarily flocking toward the iPod touch because it’s the better portable media player, just that it so happens to have FitBuilder or City Transit on there.
I remember, back when the iPod was still newish (2003/04), people would defend the iPod’s high price as saying, “Yeah, maybe it’s more expensive than Random MP3 Player, but its user interface is so good. That’s what I’m paying for.” And, if you were a Mac user, you also had the iTunes Music Store.
Today? I dare you to compare the iPod touch’s user interface to the Zune HD’s. It’s just night and day better. I often just flip through my Zune HD while at my desk because 1) it’s fun to do so, given the amazing UI and 2) I’m a huge dork.
Both players have music stores, yes, but if the future of the Internet is all about social this, social that, then the Zune HD’s store wins again. I can see what songs my dumb friends have been playing right from the device, preview said songs, and, if I have a Zune HD music subscription (I don’t because, well, I really have no use for it). The days of “squirting” music are long gone. (And really: who the hell thought “squirting” was a good word to use? I can almost hear Steve Jobs’ laughter.)
I don’t know, I just think that, given a fair shot, a heck of a lot of people would pick up a Zune HD. If you’re an iPhone user, well then that’s a totally different story.
Then again, both Apple and Microsoft could go bankrupt tomorrow, making all of this moot.