This got me to thinking, as I cleaned the kitchen while listening to U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" on my Zune: it's hard to feel good about being a Zune owner.
First, the original ad campaign didn't relate to me. I'm not a big fan of the brown/pink/orange colors that dominate the Zune's aura. The ad campaign features a bunch of youthful, happy people listening to their Zune in dark basements. I'm sure that the music they were listening to was obscure, unknown indie bands or booming, repetitive dance mixes. And then there's that tag line, "Welcome to the Social." That has to be the worst slogan. Ever.
I'm 39, I'm a computer geek, I don't wear my jeans halfway down my ass, and I get fairly regular haircuts. I'm not who Microsoft envisioned selling the Zune to.
I bought the Zune because a large part of my well being is due to Microsoft. I work with Microsoft technologies every day and Microsoft is vastly responsible for my salary. (I do not work for Microsoft, but I do work with Microsoft.)
So, I was willing to give the Zune a shot when I found myself ready to replace my three year old iPod. There are features of the Zune that I really like: the big colorful screen, the ability to customize the background, the built in FM tuner. And as a technology person, I could envision some pretty cool uses for the built in Wi-Fi capabilities.
I've had my Zune for about three months. In that time, I've fallen in love with the Zune Marketplace subscription service. It's an unbelievable feeling of freedom to be able to download any song or album at any time without feeling the pain of paying for each one. If I don't like it, I simply delete it.
It's not hard to appreciate the Zune. It's just hard to feel that pride of ownership. The TV ads have dried up, removing that feeling of "yeah, I got one of those." I have seen a magazine ad here and there, but again, they don't reach my demographic and they are vague, confusing, and ugly. I don't see anybody around me with a Zune.
I've tried to spread the love. A friend was over at my house with his high school daughter. She had just purchased a 30GB iPod. She was showing it off to me, but then she started complaining that it had scratches all over it, after only a few days. She had even purchased a fairly expensive case for it. I showed her my Zune and how it resists scratches. She started tinkering with it, and was very impressed. She loved the big screen and the fact that it had an FM tuner. She was a little put off by not having a scroll wheel, but I explained that I thought it was easier to scroll by just holding a button down than by spinning my thumb around and around. She reluctantly agreed.
She told me that she was going to take her iPod back to get a Zune. The store she had bought it from allowed 10 days for returns.
I saw her a week or two later and I asked if she had gotten a Zune. She said she didn't because somebody told her that Zune didn't work with Vista (she pronounced it "Veesta"). I just shook my head.
The anti-Microsoft engine is very formidable, and unless Microsoft can aggressively market this device and its capabilities, it is going to have a very difficult time making a dent in the marketplace.
I just hope Microsoft keeps its word and doesn't give up on the Zune leaving us first generation owners in a lurch.
In the meantime, I will anxiously await the new ad campaign. Maybe I'll buy a pink one!