Zune -- A Turkey

I knew it. My students knew it. How did Microsoft not know it. The new competitor to iPod from the folks at Microsoft -- Zune -- was a turkey even before Thanksgiving. The Wall Street Journal just reported that Zune sales are not meeting expectations ramping up to the holiday season. As we used to say back in South Philly, "who don't know that?" It's clunky, rather ugly, not better than an iPod, not cheaper and not...not...not an iPod. I always used to think when Proctor & Gamble launched a new product with all their market research, how could it not be a home run? They have many home runs, but not always. So the Zune will either become a lesson in humility or just chalk it up to bad "imagineering". Let us all take note: if you can't do something better than a competitor, why do it at all? And why not test it with the next generation. We do this type of thing at the USC Music Media Lab. Lab members wrap their arms around a project and then recommend various models that have a chance of succeeding. I can imagine how big companies do their innovating. I'm sure it's technically okay, but you have to get out from behind your corporate culture to develop new products and services. I know I've got iPods (again) on my Christmas list. I wouldn't give a Zune to anyone I liked. Nothing personal, but as one of my students said recently, if the Zune were better I'd try it. "Professor" Steven Jobs, the think different CEO, didn't even have to do anything to strengthen the sales of his iPod line. Microsoft did it for him.