Microsoft recently confirmed the rumors that they were developing a product to compete with Apple’s iPod. Dubbed Zune, the device will have an internal drive to store files, Wi-Fi, video playback, Xbox integration, and a mobile community feature for enthusiasts to interact with each other. Microsoft also said their plan is to launch a series of hardware and software music-based products along with the Zune launch. The software giant also recently posted a teaser Web site (www.comingzune.com) set to the song “Us” by Regina Spektor, that cleverly promotes the product’s impending debut.
The story behind the story here is the fact the portable-player market has turned into a clever jumping-off point for many companies into the much more lucrative digital home market. The thinking being that if a company can get consumers to embrace their technology in the hand-held market they will have an easier time getting those same folks to embrace them in the living room. Apple’s iPod, though it has stood quite well on its own, was clearly developed to give the company more familiar footing with consumers. As CE, imaging and computer companies continue to jockey for position in the digital home battle, any edge gained now can mean huge dollars down the road.
This Digital DNA term we are reading about today is worth a closer examination. The imaging industry is learning some tough lessons from both the PC and CE industries – on both the retailing and manufacturing sides of the fence. HP’s Senior Vice-President Satjiv Chahil, a veteran of both the CE and PC industries was recently quoted as saying, “Having been there, the challenge for all the leaders in the CE business is understanding the software and user experience that it takes to make digital things work. That just hasn’t been part of their culture.” It hasn’t been a part of imaging’s culture either.
The Zune may turn out to be a smart move by Microsoft as the rewards in the aforementioned Digital Home market will surely be substantial.