Microsoft Jumps the Shark, But Gets a Lamborghini Gallardo SE for Only $700

36 Comments

ZunePass__15

Microsoft (s msft) has lost its marbles regarding this whole “Apple (s aapl) is expensive” thing, which is clear with their latest “ad.” So far, they’ve only been running this ad online, which makes me wonder if even they know they’ve jumped the shark with this meme.

Their latest shot is a video with “certified financial adviser” Wes Moss. Wes explains that it takes $30K to fill Apple’s latest (120GB) iPod, but only $15 (a month) to fill a similar-sized Zune. Huh? It would appear that Wes is a “financial adviser” in the same way that Giampaulo is “technically savvy” and that Sheila will “cut video.” In other words, they may be these things, but if so, by no means are they good at what they do.

In Wes’ case, as a financial adviser — especially a certified one — I would think one should know what “renting” is. In fact, if your job title has the word “financial” anywhere in it, I would expect at least a reasonable grasp on borrowing vs. owning. Poor Wes, he thinks he got that Lamborghini for only $700, but at the end of his six hours he’ll find out exactly what renting is. For his sake, I hope the police aren’t involved.

Microsoft, this has been tried before. A company that at one time actually had a name in digital downloads tried this pitch. With a Super Bowl ad, no less. It didn’t work. Nobody bought (rented?) it then, and they won’t now.

36 Comments

Brian Hogg

@Tom:
“Because many here are defending ZunePass, which requires DRM. That means they’re OK with it. Any support of a subscription model requires being OK with DRM.”

Both systems use DRM, Tom, and I’m going to guess that you were purchasing music on iTunes prior to them offering DRM-free music (not that the music isn’t still wrapped in FairPlay), right? You could rather conveniently say that you’ve never bought any DRMed music from iTunes because you’re being challenged on it, of course, but such a claim would seem highly unlikely. And what does that mean? Well, I *guess* it would mean that “Any support of iTunes requires being OK with DRM.” Never mind the fact that purchasing an iPod/iPhone would be implicit endorsement of the system as well, as they all come with iTunes, and there’s still DRM actively being used for video content and applications.

“Because Apple doesn’t do the same thing. ZunePass subscription music works only on Zunes. Period. iTunes Store music works on any player worth noting, including the Zune. The absence of DRM does that.”

It hurts your credibility if you’re suggesting that Apple doesn’t have DRM in iTunes, because it suggests you haven’t done the scant research required to know what you’re talking about.

I’ve got a bunch of music on my iPod and iPhone that will ONLY work with those devices. Why? Because I bought them when DRM was still actively being used in music, and I don’t think it’s fair to have to pay 30 cents per song to unlock them. That’s an odorous system, and while I’m sure you think it’s cool because of el Jobso, I don’t see Microsoft pulling that kind of a stunt.

To the point that MunchE made: Very true, he *is* saying that MS sucks for offering more options. I’m sure Tom would disagree, and say that the games (and video, as I’m guessing Tom has such a cursory knowledge of the Zune that he doesn’t actually realize the breadth of content available on the thing) and apps on the iPhone alone more than make up for it.

Bas

@ Tom Reestman: Perhaps you did not notice, but if people are defending Microsoft here it is because of your continuous and rather unreasonable crusade against the company. Come on, every article you write on this blog is about Microsoft and how bad it is. Is apple not interesting enough?

Josh Pigford

@Jim: The planet where the deal is not $15 a month for unlimited downloads. It’s $15 month to “rent” music until you stop paying. Please read the article before commenting.

Jim

Oh cmon… $15 per month for unlimited downloads??? What the heck planet are your living on? Talk about blathering idiocy.

MunchE

So to reply to this directly, your argument is that because the Zune has an unlimited option as well as the ability to purchase individual songs from the Zune store, Apple store, or Amazon store, this makes it inferior?

I own an iPod (I couldn’t get a Zune in 160gb and iPod works with more of my other devices) and I enjoy it as a player, but seriously, you’re riffing on MS for offering more options than Apple?

I honestly feel both options are lacking. I don’t like DRM, I do want to own my music, but $1 for a digital download is far too expensive. In my ideal world, I would be paying $15 a month for unlimited non-DRM downloads. I don’t like either companies model and I use neither model.

But this article, like others by this author, is just absolutely blatant fanboyism. It’s crap like this that makes me want to turn in my iPod, because I don’t like being associated with this sort of blathering idiocy.

Tom Reestman

“Why do you think that everyone’s okay with Microsoft putting in DRM?”

Because many here are defending ZunePass, which requires DRM. That means they’re OK with it. Any support of a subscription model requires being OK with DRM.

“How can you criticize MS for having Zune-only music unless you’re also criticizing Apple for doing the exact same thing”

Because Apple doesn’t do the same thing. ZunePass subscription music works only on Zunes. Period. iTunes Store music works on any player worth noting, including the Zune. The absence of DRM does that.

Quix

Perhaps Microsoft should run an ad showing how much it would cost to fill your Zune if you actually want to *own* your music.

Oh wait, it would cost THE SAME as filling the iPod.

Nevermind. Carry on with the FUD, Microsoft, you 2-bit dinosaur.

Brian Hogg

@Tom

“I could easily have blasted it for other reasons, like the music being heavily DRM’ed, which everyone hates when Apple does it but is cool for Microsoft, I guess. Or that it doesn’t work with the iPod or any other music player (because of the afore-mentioned DRM). Or that the iPod ecosystem of iPhone and iPod Touch is moving beyond just music (to apps, games, etc.), and Microsoft is WAY behind on this. In short, the biggest problem is that ZunePass REQUIRES a Zune.”

Why do you think that everyone’s okay with Microsoft putting in DRM? People get much angrier at Microsoft for their DRM because it’s generally much more invasive; you notice it more, where Apple’s DRM is, by contrast, hardly noticed. I’m all for Apple’s way of DRM, and I’m not entirely sure where you’re getting the notion that MS gets a pass from critics for that.

As for your other arguments (as quoted)? They fall pretty short, because they’re all ones you could make of the iPod itself. Ex: “In short, the biggest problem with buying music on iTunes is that it REQUIRES an iPod.” How can you criticize MS for having Zune-only music unless you’re also criticizing Apple for doing the exact same thing, in which case you can’t point it out as a specific flaw of MS (above and beyond and issues Apple might be having).

Point taken about the intent of your article, though it seemed to me you were hitting the money as the main sticking point, not the type of ownership. As counter to that (because playing the Devil’s Advocate is fun!), I’m guessing that Microsoft’s aiming at the people who don’t care if they own the music or not, those people who just want to listen, and that’s the cost of admission. For most people, they’re functionally renting the music they actually purchase through iTunes; they buy (at a low enough price that it doesn’t require any thought of long-term commitment) they listen a few times and then never listen again. If you’re going to be getting song for only a handful of listens in most cases, why not rent?

I agree that a mixed model is a great idea; let me get access to all of the songs for a rental fee, and if I REALLY like them, I’ll buy them. And maybe I should get a discount on the purchase for already having paid for the rental fee.

The math listed here also takes into account that while $15 gets you a single album forever on iTunes, $15 gets you access to an always increasing library for an entire month. If you’re talking bang for your buck, $15 dollars to listen to as much as you’d like for an entire month seems like a pretty good deal. Now, sure, you can say that purchasing or renting is your preference, and I can’t disagree because it’s your own preference, but that doesn’t make the MS ad stupid.

Tim Hettler

@Chance

This argument isn’t really about investing in an artist, it’s about the consumer’s wallet, nothing else. And subscription-based service are definitely cheaper in the long run than but-to-own services for a majority of people.

You could also argue that subscription-based music services are good for new artists too, since the barrier to hear their music is much lower. Most people don’t want to chance their $10 on an album that might suck.

The argument that subscription-based services screw over the artists is also flawed because, well, the record industry screws over artists no matter what format your buying the music in. If you REALLY want to support an artist, buy some concert tickets. :-)

Tom Reestman

All,

If there’s any question about my primary complaint with the ad, when I stated the following:

– “I would think one should know what “renting” is”
– “I would expect at least a reasonable grasp on borrowing vs. owning”
– “Poor Wes, he thinks he got that Lamborghini for only $700, but at the end of his six hours he’ll find out exactly what renting is”

I was focusing on the lack of ownership (i.e., renting vs. buying).

I blasted the ad for the stupid $15 vs. $30K argument specifically because one is renting and one is owning. Like the Lamborghini at just $700 vs. $500K (or whatever). Again, it’s a silly comparison because one is renting, one is buying.

I could easily have blasted it for other reasons, like the music being heavily DRM’ed, which everyone hates when Apple does it but is cool for Microsoft, I guess. Or that it doesn’t work with the iPod or any other music player (because of the afore-mentioned DRM). Or that the iPod ecosystem of iPhone and iPod Touch is moving beyond just music (to apps, games, etc.), and Microsoft is WAY behind on this. In short, the biggest problem is that ZunePass REQUIRES a Zune.

I could also point out that realistic buying and listening habits make the whole “get 120GB worth of music in one month” argument stupid.

Further, I could have reminded people that Microsoft already screwed their last group of rental suckers with Plays For Sure. Why in heaven’s name would any intelligent being get on board with them for subscriptions again?

With so many choices, I opted to blast the ad because Microsoft dug up an alleged “financial advisor” who doesn’t understand the concept of rent vs. own, and hopes to find a lot of people equally in the dark on the concept.

Jim

$15 per month is a great deal for some people. I only buy 2 or 3 songs a month, so its not a good deal for me. I think when it comes to playing music, you can go with either one and be happy. MP3 players are just a small part of what people are looking for now. The app store is the real reason to get an iPhone or a touch. Apple was way ahead of Microsoft in recognizing this and now Microsoft has to play catch-up like they did with the MP3 player.

Michael

Apple proved it with iTunes … the vast majority of people who listen to music want to own it, not rent it. And they also proved that most of them would do so even if it was DRM protected and they proved that people would be willing to pay a little more for an easier to use and more elegant media player.

All of those things defied analyst’s expectations.

Microsoft is only pushing subscriptions, because the music industry prefers a subscription based model due to the forced DRM lock-in and constant revenue. Microsoft makes most of its money from corporations not end users; their interests are aligned with corporations, not consumers.

Reclusive Monkey

I just told my girlfriend about this story. She said “What? A zoo?”. Enough said. Just die already Zune.

Chris

It’s true this overstates the value prop becaus most folks wouldn’t fill their mp3 player with purchased music. But the real value of suscription is that you get to discover and try new music you may later come to cherish without a commitment to own the music. You can try it on as it suits your mood and pull it from the sky years later when that mood strikes you again.

Most consumers only buy two albums a year. I suspect this is because of the high level of commitment required to get an album, which requires a bond with the music and perhaps the artist.

But guess what, as purchases move to online, the purchase pattern is staying the same: just two transactions a year. But now people just buy the hit single rather than the entire album!

ignar

I think subscription + CD purchase is the best combo for myself. I buy a CD for the songs I cherish so much and I’m sure I will like them even after several years. Of course after purchase, those songs will be converted to MP3 format and CD will be kept in a safe place. This way, I can hear songs in better sound quality, and have a physical item I can put in my collection. For other songs, subscription (aka rent) is a perfect solution. It’s like with the price of one CD every month, I have an access to all the songs in the huge music library. Yeah, you lose the access to those songs once you stop subscription, but again, you can regain the access as soon as you pay the monthly fee. You never own and you never lose. No need to worry about losing music files and begging Apple to grant re-downloading is a plus.
As an iPod and iPhone lover, I really wish Apple starts a subscription service like MS does. ITMS has been successful and Apple might not need to do so at this moment, but hopefully more people learn the benefit of music subscription and make Apple consider it.

Chance Randel

@Tim Hettler

I’d rather have 15 tracks that I cherish than a 16gb Zune full of feckless mediocrity.

Again – I believe we invest value in the music beyond the monetary when we purchase it. We begin to identify it with ourselves and vice-versa.

Or do I just think about these things too much?

Tim Hettler

I think the comments thread here actually makes Microsoft’s argument better than the ad does. Let’s say you only have $15/month to spend. You can either get 1.5 albums on iTunes or EVERY SINGLE TRACK Microsoft offers. Sure, after 166 years your’re the sucker who’s still paying for that music but – and this is an important point – you’ll be long dead before then. So you probably pay less money and have access to more music with Microsoft’s service.

Tony

They’re allowing to keep 10 songs after each month, they added a new concept there. But i am sure these will be DRM copies. It’s a new concept. Question is now that they allow this keeping ploy, how will the artist whose song(s) were chosen to be kept, get compensated for the “sale”?

Chance Randel

@Brian Hogg

When we pay for the music we invest value in it beyond the strictly monetary.

Sure – I could rent but I’m not investing value in the music when I do that… I’m only paying for access. Nothing on that rental queue will be MINE in the way it will be if I purchased the music. I haven’t singled this music it out from the ocean of sound and said there is something special about THIS and I want to own a little part of it.

Perhaps I’m way off base here. I’m not an economist or a sociologist – I’m just an artist.

I do understand that an iTunes purchase is, technically, just a license purchase and not an actual copy of the song but how many people do you think themselves – “I’ll acquire a license to play this song on prescribed software ware and hardware.” We don’t. We tell everyone that we just bought a song.

A delightfully immaterial song.

Brian Hogg

@Supercharged Excellent point. (Though that’s hardly an Apple-specific problem; it’s an issue with all digital media)

Brian Hogg

@krye Apple would prefer you to fill up your iPod by purchasing songs from the iTunes store, yes? I’m guessing that Microsoft is using Apple’s best-customer-case to determine what a typical “full iPod” cost would be.

Now, sure, most people don’t go anywhere NEAR filling it, because I hear that most people only get a couple hundred songs on their iPod, but the main feature of the subscription service is that you can easily fill the machine up, and if you want to cram it full of music it’s a much better deal than buying it from the iTunes store.

(I may be coming off as a Microsoft apologist here, but I’m really being more anti-Tom-Reestman’s illogical rants than pro-Microsoft)

Supercharged

I’m to buy Gallardo for $150 000 easily. Because after two years I’d sell it and buy Carrera GT.

Would you be able to sell your iTunes library ever?..

In that case, renting is a way to go.

krye

$30,000 is BS. They mean 30,000 songs at 99 cents right? Well that’s based on a 4 minute song at a 128 bit rate. I don’t know about you, but who the hell rips at 128 kbps? I rip at 320. So I’d probably get somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 songs on a 120G iPod. Did those songs cost me $12,000? No, because they were all bought on CDs. Tons were on deals or free from BMG and Columbia House. Not to mention that my 800 or so CDs date back to the early 80’s. So maybe I’ve spend $10,000 on CDs over the past 25 years.

Who is Microsoft kidding?

Andy

Actually I think renting music is a perfect idea for the current consumer mindset (esp. pre-teen). Avril Lavigne and Clay Aiken belong there next to pre-cooked, then microwaved “all-meat” patties sold “fresh”, and disposable marriages. We need never consider looking back, or connecting to our past. It’s all now..oops…um, now…oops…

Brian Hogg

@Josh Pigford I’m not missing the point, I’m responding to the argument as presented by Tom. It certainly could be that Tom was pointing to the fact that you never own the music, but I personally took it to be more a consideration of cost (pointing to the “cost” of the car, for example, the most direct point seems to be that it’s 700/month), and from what I read of Mr. Reestman’s writing on this site, his view of anything Microsoft isn’t exactly nuanced.

I suppose a more salient counter to your point is to point out to you that from a technical perspective nobody actually owns any of their digital media anyway; we purchase a license to it which can be revoked at any time if the company decides we’re in violation of the terms of our agreement. So in that sense Apple’s “rental” agreement is far more odious than Microsoft’s, as at the very least Microsoft lets you get more stuff for your money.

That’s playing a bit of a game of semantics, though. Another question would be whether people will care enough about it being rental only; how much of your catalogue do you actually listen to on a regular basis, for example? That may not make any arguments invalid, but from the perspective of a consumer, it may indeed be good enough to know that while you’re paying $15 a month you can listen to anything it occurs to you to listen to without a difference of cost.

Josh Pigford

@Brian Hogg: You’re still missing the point. With the Zune, even after 166 years you still would never OWN the music. The second you stop paying them, all that music is gone. All of it. Not to mention, this service would need to be in business for 166 years or, again, all the access to music is gone.

Brian Hogg

Price isn’t there only argument: they make good quality product that functionally runs the world. They’re hitting on price currently because it’s a powerful selling point; it would be pretty ludicrous of them *not* to hit on the price, don’t you think?

I love Apple products, but I also love the hell out of my Xbox 360, and I’m really liking what I’ve seen of Windows 7 (which runs perfectly on a four year old laptop of mine [which I should point out still works fine, despite being older than many Apple faithful seem to think PCs can function to]). I also adore my iPhone, because I prefer to take each device on its own merits, rather than get into some simplistic binary view of the world where it’s automatically great if one company does it, and automatically crap if another company does.

Boris

It’s very sad that Microsoft have no argument other than price to affirm their superiority over Apple. Clearly a sign of abdication from Microsoft. They have clearly run short of ammunitions.

Brian Hogg

You’re right, Tom, it’s disingenuous to make it look like it’s only 15 dollars to fill the Zune, rather than $15 a month. Apple should, in rebuttal, point out that eventually you’d be paying the same amount for the music on the Zune. In fact, it would only take 166 years.

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