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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


It's out! The long (kinda really, really long) awaited gadget by that leader of copycats, has finally launched! And, as expected, it rides roughshod over all aesthetics and sensibilities.

Sitting next to the similarly priced iPod (with the same amount of memory but additional features) it looks like an ad for "Darth Vader meets White Knight" ... the ugliness further accentuated by Forbe's autumn-leafy background that may have been a subconcious slip by the photographer, into whose mind the word 'fall' may have propped up, understandably.

The most touted (and if the reports coming in are to be believed, soon to be the most taunted) feature is its WiFi capability. Apple's Founder and Head (obviously envious!) finds this unexciting. In an interview, on the iPod's 5th birthday, Stephen Levy asked him: Microsoft has announced its new iPod competitor, Zune. It says that this device is all about building communities. Are you worried? Shot back irrepressible Steve Jobs: In a word, 'No'. I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left! You're much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you're connected with about two feet of headphone cable.

Microsoft has been adventurous, too, when it comes to colours: the Zune is also available in excitement-curbing Brown. Sadly, the colour and the klunkiness make even Serena Williams look dainty.

Of course, as a Mac lover, I am going to be accused of bias. And I admit that I do have a strong bias towards better products. But leave my views alone and take a look at a newsbyte from CNN's neutral business analysts.

Actually, I fail to see why MS (not the other killer disease that comes to mind) is so overjoyed about this wannabe-iPod-killer. I mean, even the Redmond Retards must know that 5 years (iPod turned 5 a few weeks ago) is a long long time for any piece of technology in this world to remain successful. Having a 'killer' go after something that old is hardly an act of bravado to be proud of, even if the 'thing' holds a 70%-80% market share and continues to sell like crazy. But I guess MS takes its toll.

In the final analysis, it's not just the iPod or the Zune that matters. Both are small enough to plug your earphones in and press the Play button, and put away out of sight. Ok ... so the Zune will require a slightly bigger and more strongly-lined pocket, but let's not quibble. The point is that it has to be linked to easy-to-use, smooth-operating, closely co-ordinated software. For me, iTunes does that really well. I have no idea, yet, of what the Windows counterpart will do ... but judging by the ugly bloatware that comes out of Redmond, I would not lay much hope on it. But, to be fair, let's wait and see.

Naturally, the software and the hardware will only be tested once you have them both up and running. Again, as a Mac user, the iPod just plugged in to my PowerBook the first time around and the 'installation' was trouble-free. I have no idea if Windows Users had any difficulty in connecting iPods to their PCs. However, the Zune installation, it seems, is not for non-techies like me, who just want to plug-and-play.

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