Paul Thurrott Rethinks Zune

I just read this re-review of the Zune from Paul Thurrott. I have mixed feelings about Paul, a long time ago I followed his coverage of Microsoft products religiously but like all people that get educated my religious fervor wore off.

He says a few things that out-right surprise me for someone that is supposedly familiar with Microsoft, here are the choice bits:

Many-myself included-have criticized or even decried Microsoft’s entry into this market, the underwhelming marketing of the device, and the lack of certain features.

Eh? Unless someone has swallowed the blue pill they should have been wondering why Microsoft didn’t jump into this market sooner as it’s really a perfect fit. They’ve obviously wanted a piece of the music market for a long time with all their scattered attempts: MSN Music, PlaysForSure, Windows Media Player, URGE, etc. but those efforts have always required others to step up to the plate to make the magic happen. With the in-house success of the XBox and the XBox Live Marketplace they had all the proof and tools they needed to really make a Microsoft music experience happen.

I think the “underwhelming marketing” actually works in their favor because they know they can’t dominate out the gate and so it’s better to get a smaller, more passionate following at first that can really be their “street team” so to speak while buying Microsoft time to polish their hardware and software. Remember, the iPod is at it’s 5th generation while iTunes is at it’s 7th and just the 1st generation Zune already gives the iModel a run for it’s money.

Historically, Microsoft hasn’t performed very well in markets in which a single strong competitor controls a dominant position.

This comment had me wondering if Paul wrote his article drunk or perhaps hopped up on goofballs. He seems to have forgotten Microsoft history completely. Remember when Netscape was *the* browser and IE was just some little toy? Granted Microsoft fell asleep on the job once they hit the top but they did end up with a market saturation so large everyone else was left with single digits.

How about current events, let’s talk the XBox and XBox 360. In a mere five years it went from laughing stock to the #2 console on the market with a rich feature set that the other players are scrambling to compete against. For every failure Microsoft has a huge success story.

The Zune still has a ways to go but they are already looking pretty good and I only expect it to get better.