A Blueprint for Zune: What I’d Like to See
We all have heard the news at this point, that Zune as a brand may or may not exist in the near future. The Zune team’s texts, blog posts, and podcasts have all firmly stated that Zune “services” will continue. This seems to confirm, in a roundabout way, that Zune’s branding may change but all be under a new name. Paul Thurrott, from the SuperSite for Windows, says insider sources are suggesting that the music services may fall under Windows Live or Xbox. No matter where the pieces fall, here are my suggestions for Zune, or whatever it will be called, in 2011 (and not a year later):
- Devices for everyone. Your hardware option can’t be just Windows Phone. Bring out the Windows Phone minus the phone, ala iPod Touch, and hit lots of price points by offering different storage capacities.
- To win, people need to know you exist. Advertise! Zune had great ads uploaded to their Zune YouTube account but you probably didn’t see these on TV or radio, did you?
- Be nimble, not slow. Software upgrades/fixes more often than once or twice a year. Apple does it, and so can you.
- Welcome to 2011.Play DVDs through Zune software. Add support for digital movie copies. So, let me get this straight Zune team, Windows Media Player has different digital movie encryption so Zune can’t play the same movies?! It’s the same company!
- Take “The Social” seriously. Allow Last.fm scrobbling or bring more data analysis, like graphs and tables. Allow RSS feeds of activity on Zune plays, favorites, purchases, and even the previously mentioned statistics. Make finding friends easier using Hotmail contacts, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc. (You are probably just like us and have friends on Zune who don’t remember their Zunetag !) Let me post to Twitter, Facebook, etc. what song I’m listening to. Your website does it but your software doesn’t.
- Make customization work for you. It worked for Firefox. Add more background images and allow custom images. How about an equalizer?
- Making the mini player better. Add volume control, not just mute, to mini player. Fix the issue that miniplayer has where sometimes it retains the UI for the full screen player instead of mini UI.
- Fix gaps/bugs in features. Integrate Internet radio, ala http://www.radiotime.com Radiotime.com or the radio feature of Windows Media Player into the desktop software. Make window resizing allow any size, not just the predetermined window dimensions you can pull to select.
- Connect your services. If Zune is “Your music. Everywhere.” Then why not fill in the missing place: At work without a Zune Pass and without music from home. Solve this by doing what lala.com, Maestro.fm, Grooveshark, and now Amazon Cloud Drive services do: allow users to upload music to the cloud, regardless of where music was purchased. (Think a larger SkyDrive with your music everywhere.)
- Make money by using money. Convert Microsoft Points to real currency. I don’t mind this but lots of music loving friends do! Yes, current exchange rates will be a pain but you’ve got to compete with iTunes dollar for dollar, not dollar for points.
- Build up the Zune Marketplace catalog. Too many songs and artists aren’t there.
- Copy your best work. Integrate a lot of the Windows Phone 7 type of features into Zune’s desktop software, such as the pictures hub.
- Reduce cost of Zune Pass and double charging. Yeah you offer 10 free songs but Rhapsody and Napster are cheaper and on more devices. Zune users who use their Zune Pass on Xbox 360 have to have both an Xbox Live Gold account and a Zune Pass subscription. Ouch.
Do you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see Zune evolve in to? Log in with your Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, or Discus accounts and let me know.