Microsoft hiding from the Zune?

Microsoft is hiding from its Zune, and for good reason: the software isn't innovative and the experience? Let's just say it's no iPod.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer spots - or, rather, doesn't spot - the Zune in Microsoft's new advertising for that uber-social iPhone "competitor." According to Zune marketing director Adam Sohn, this is on purpose: "We're trying to funnel people from the software side....You don't have to buy the device immediately."

Huh? So, Microsoft is trying to play up all the things you can do with the Zune...without buying a Zune. That might be a better strategy, since it turns out that not many people want to do buy a Zune, regardless of the price. CNET's Matt Rosoff tries to put a brave face on Microsoft's recent focus on the Zune software, rather than the Zune device, but it fails to convince.

What can you do with the Zune desktop software without undergoing the shame of carrying a Zune around? Things like music discovery, which, unfortunately, Apple also provides through its Genius service in iTunes. In other words, Microsoft is playing catch-up, and it's unlikely to catch up.

Let's face it: the XBox excepted, Microsoft is a much better software company than it is a hardware company. But mobile is a game where it's still critical to own the entire experience, hardware and software, which is why Microsoft does so poorly against the iPod and iPhone, and Apple continues to dominate.

Best to get back to those dull, gray corporate desktops, Mr. Ballmer. With 90 percent-plus market share, you can afford to be "social" in the enterprise in a way that the Zune never has been.