new iPods steal zune’s thunder
September 24, 2006
Among the more notable results of Apple’s 9/12 media event were price drops in the company’s iPod lines, both in the flagship 5G models and in the flash-based iPod nano. The news must have come as quite a shock to Microsoft, whose “Zune” media player is due to launch sometime in the next couple of months at a likely $299 pricepoint for 30GB. Reacting in an interview to Apple’s announcement, Microsoft GM of Marketing Chris Stephensen had this to say:
Q: It’s interesting that Apple split the differences with their two updated iPods…
A: Yeah, it’s interesting that they decided to reduce the price of the 30GB. It’s come down $50. That’s obviously a huge financial hitch. I’m not sure what they think we’re doing. It’s certainly an interesting thing to do – to reduce the price of a good-selling product like that – that was selling well at $299. We’ll take it as it is. It’s an interesting move on their part, and it’s an interesting opportunity in the market place.
If you’ll allow me to interpret, Stephensen’s use of “interesting” probably means something more like “impossibly clever and utterly damning to our fledgling little Zune thing, to an extent that we probably won’t be able to compensate.” Of course, that is only my reading of it.
Recent rumors have suggested that Microsoft is re-evaluating its pricing scheme, though it is (unsurprisingly) unclear if anything will come of that. Even if the $299 figure holds, the Zune could still succeed on the merits of its unique feature set, which includes the ability to share content wirelessly with other Zune users for a limited duration (three plays over three days) and a larger screen than its Apple competitor. And yet the iPod juggernaut rolls on.
–D. S. W.