With the introduction of the Zune media player, Microsoft has entered the world where Apple has dominated. Sure there have been other attempts at media players, such as efforts by Creative and Samsung, but the Zune is the first media player by a software company with idm gigapurbalingga the resources of giant Microsoft. With such power behind it’s development the Zune should be pretty good, and it is. The question is weather or not it can ever unseat Apple’s iPOD as the portable media player king.
The other question is weather or not it ever has to. In order for the Zune to be a commercial success it could sell merrily along in second place, adding millions of dollars per quarter to Microsoft’s coffers, and opening up an additional revenue stream for them, much the same way as iTunes has done for Apple. Apple now has an estimated 70% of the music and video download market. If Microsoft only took some of that existing download market and got a larger share of additional users, it could work out well indeed for Microsoft. In fact, the iTunes division has already provided over $1 billion worth of revenue for the Cupertino based company since the division’s inception only a few short years ago.
Although sales of the Zune hit the 1 million mark in less than 8 months time, many were disappointed that Zune sales paled compared to those of its chief rival, the iPOD. If you have taken the plunge and bought a Zune, you know about the high quality screen, rich graphics, and brilliant video. This video strength, coupled with built-in WiFi wireless networking, was what Microsoft counted on to propel the Zune to be a rival to the iPOD in the marketplace.
If you have a Zune, you are probably in the market for content. After all, the Zune’s aforementioned video prowess can be readily enjoyed on busses, planes, airports, class, or any place where high quality video is important so you can catch up on TV shows, watch movies or enjoy some comedy or music videos. This video portability initially had many analysts split as to weather it would take hold and enjoy a solid following among consumers. However, portable video players have proved to be a huge hit with the public. As the number of people with portable players have grown, a number of solutions to download that video have sprung up.
There are almost as many business models supporting these video download sites as there are sites themselves. Three main business models seem to have grabbed most of the attention, however. The first is the subscription site. The new Napster and Rhapsody are two of the sites where you can download all the content you desire for a fixed monthly fee, typically between $10 and $20. On occasion there are premium offerings that deliver even more content, albeit at a greater cost. Napster claimed, as of March 2007, it had over 830,000 paid subscribers worldwide, although it did admit that it is still losing money handily.
Another popular subscription model, and the one selected by industry leader Apple for it’s iTunes service, is the per song or video download model. With this service, you pay only for the songs, movies, or videos you actually download. Fees range from about a dollar for a single song to several dollars for premium content, movies or videos. Since its inception in April, 2003, Apple has sold well over 1 billion songs and millions of movies and videos on iTunes.
Microsoft has delivered a hybrid of both business models with the Zune Marketplace. You can get a Zune Pass for $14.99 a month, or you can get a 3 month pass for $44.97. You’re right, there’s no savings with a 3 month Zune Pass. You can download unlimited music with a Zune Pass, but like Rhapsody, it all goes away when you stop paying your monthly subscription fees. You can download music or videos for keeps, but like iTunes, it will cost you on a per song or video basis. Microsoft has taken a page from the marketing folks at iTunes by having exclusive recordings from very popular artists such as Kanye West available only at the Zune Marketplace.