Saturday, November 04, 2006

Introducing the ZunePod

OK, so unless you've been under a rock somewhere - you know that Microsoft is about to launch it's own answer to the iPod - called "Zune." It will have an online music store (very original!), where you can download music and videos (yawn!) to a handheld device that's basically identical to a 30GB iPod, at a price basically identical to the 30GB iPod (99 cents more).

To be sure, there are some "cooler" features in Zune: FM Radio, wireless networking (for beaming songs to you friends) and a bigger screen (3 inches versus 2.5). You can get more details from people with nothing more than free time on their hands at Wikipedia.

I'm going to leave the audio and video geeks to debate over which one is better (I don't really care), and the marketplace will also decide which one lives and which one dies - but what I want to talk about is Microsoft's tactics.

It's like Steve Ballmer is Baron Bomburst commanding kidnapped clueless scientists to duplicate Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And, it's doing with the typical 1990's mantra "embrace and extend" - which in Microsoftland means "copy and kill the inventor."

They did it with DOS. They did it with Windows (copy of then-popular Mac OS). They did it with Excel (remember VisiCalc?). They did it with Explorer. They did it with XBox. They are TRYING to do it with C# (identical to Java), and now they are trying to do it with Zune.

We can only hope and pray that Apple doesn't get cocky and drop the ball (again).

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