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Zune goes for indie cred

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Today is the formal launch of Zune, and I think Microsoft has done a great job of promoting it and getting the name out there. (The company’s wooing of bloggers has also been effective: Engadget is almost a house organ for Zune.) There are 45,900,000 Google hits for a search for Zune.

There hasn’t been much discussion of the songs that come preloaded into every Zune music player. But I find the list very telling. Unlike the sample music library that Apple sent reviewers with the first iPod, the Zune choices make no attempt to touch bases in different categories of music, but aim laser-like to cutting-edge independent emergening bands. (Another sign of the indie focus: one of the setup screens is a picture from the Coachella festival, the Nirvana of the movement that Nirvana [the band] helped trigger.)

Admission: the only band in the group I know is Band of Horses, a Seattle favorite that’s in the Neil Young style of grunge mode. (They’re good.) But I like the songs from Bitter:Sweet (hip-trop tropic stuff, reminds me of Brazilian Girls) and The Adored. Apparently the hard-core indie fan knows most of these groups, and may be impressed at the selection. Here’s a list–you’ll notice of the nine, three are from Sub Pop, the famous Seattle post-punk label. The takeway is that Microsoft is taking dead aim at a young, iconoclastic demographic that may feel that the iPod is too much an establishment tool, and wants a different music player that the one Dick Cheney listens to. It’s almost a (Karl) Rovian form of ju-jitsu marketing–positioning Microsoft as the cool alternative to Apple. I’ll end the post here, as my head is spinning.

Update: I see Engadget has put up a post on the non-elegance of Zune installation process. So maybe I was harsh in my characterizationl

1 Comment

  • The Zune has a nice user interface and rubberized plastic feel, but the sheer huge-ness of it compared to the iPod G5 is a real turn-off for me. Microsoft is a little late in getting into this game. It’s OS compatability along with the “point” purchasing system are also a real turn-off.

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