Zune in the wild
I promised that at my appearance at the University Bookstore in Seattle last Friday that I would bring a Zune and see if anyone would send me a song. One problem of Zunes, of course, is that the one significant feature it has and iPods do not have–Wi-Fi–doesn’t do much for you if there are no other Zunes around. The one thing you can do with Zune Wi-Fi (called “community”) is send or receive a song or photo to someone else with a Zune. Before I hit Seattle next week I had never had the opportunity to do this “in the wild,” as opposed to testing it with two Zunes while writing a review. At the recent Microsoft Vista launch–one place where you’d figure you’d find a few Zunes–the guy next to me (an analyst who covers Apple and Microsoft) pulled out a Zune and looked for another one. Nada.
Anyway, as you saw in my previous post, I did get a song sent to me, at least in the semi-wild–at Microsoft itself. So what happened in the bookstore? When I turned on my Zune, aka “brownie,” there was indeed another within range, from a user called “MattyDread” (translation: a guy named Matt who likes Bob Marley). And indeed I got a message asking me if I wanted to accept a song. It was entitled “Pantomime Magpie” from a contingent called Diminished Men. Never heard of them, but I appreciated the squirt. I like the idea of getting songs this way. I imagine if the iPod had that feature, everytime I did a speaking thing I could accept lots of songs and pictures from the audience (since all my audiences are, duh, pretty much iPod-equipped) and afterwards I’d have some fun going through my new arrivals.
Here’s the kicker. It turns out that MattyDread is not a Microsoft guy, but someone who covers the company in a publication called “Directions on Microsoft.” And the song he sent was actually recorded by his own band. Matt told me that when he added the song to his Zune, he put no DRM on it, and indeed his preference would be to let me have it with no protections so I could keep it and even share it as much as I wanted with friends. But the way Zune handles its song sharing, its draconian DRM is slapped on tunes indiscriminately, whether the artists want it there or not. That stinks.