What Killed The Zune?


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File this under “no surprises”: Microsoft is ditching the Zune.

Why? Because the product was born out of a need to compete, instead of being created to meet customer needs and desires.

It wasn’t bad as a device – it had a great screen, and a few new ideas. But no one seemed to feel the Zune promised them anything they needed.

What did the Zune promise? Unlimited access to a large music library for a monthly fee of $14.99 – for as long as you kept up your subscription.

In theory, a nice feature. How do you test a theory? By asking your customers if your theory sucks or not. How many times to you need to hear people say that they want to own tunes, not rent them, before you believe them?

What did the Zune promise? The ability to download tunes you hear on FM radio, and from wi-fi hotspots.

The reality: the FM idea sounded good until you realized that most iPod users considered FM radio that thing their parents listen to in the car.

The wi-fi downloads made sense – who wants to wait till they get home to download music? But Microsoft took a couple of years to get that going. During those years (2006-2008) car companies were already coming out with iPod docks.

What did the Zune promise? The ability to share tunes. This is a cool feature, their big innovation, and it might have taken off if they had done it right. As it happened, they forgot to ask customers, “How valuable would you find the ability to give your friends tunes that lasted for 3 lousy plays?” Plus, sharing presupposed a group of Zune users, and Zune users never got thick enough on the ground to congregate in groups.

There were other problems – the high price, the brown color, and having one model versus the wide range of iPods available – but the main reason for the Zune’s demise is Microsoft’s failure to listen.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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