What a coincidence, so is the Zune.
Some interesting detail from Engadget on early WP7 units. I see Microsoft’s still lopping off the “e”. You’d think after a year this would be fixed by now.
Now don’t get all bent out of shape. Honesty, it seems too early to judge WP7 because it’s not ready for prime time—opinions are all over the map. I just thought I’d point this Zune-ism out for some fun.
E&D, of course, has been anything but successful. It sat on Windows Mobile while Apple ran away with the consumer smart phone market and then eventually had to cancel that product, which dated back 15 years, to start again with Windows Phone. It copied the Apple playbook with its Zune MP3 players, which failed dramatically in the marketplace. And even its most successful product, the Xbox 360, is something of a disaster: It will never recoup the billions in R&D investments it incurred, was the subject of the worst-ever consumer electronics recall in history because of rampant reliability issues, and despite being in the market for a year longer than the competition, it has been dramatically outsold by the less sophisticated Nintendo Wii.
Careful, Paul. One or two more posts like this and Ballmer will have to fire you.
Microsoft is trying to get people to tweet about how great the Zune is. If you do, you could get a free Zune in the process. Yes, it’s Microsoft’s attempt at a completely genuine fake grassroots campaign.
Previously I wrote that the trolls are out for Apple, and to expect more ridiculous articles. Well, who better to supply one than Paul Thurrott, that constant source of Microsoft disinformation and FUD? Occasionally Thurrott reaches a new high in low, and did so with his post on Apple’s “culture of lies”. His ranting in this piece rivals that of Jason Calacanis’ recent nonsensical babbling about Apple; it’s that bad.
So Many Words, So Few That Matter
The only two things worth noting in the entire screed are these:
As I write this, Apple doesn’t quite have a monopoly in any given market
Yep, thanks, that covers Apple.
Microsoft got into antitrust trouble because they behaved in a manner that was illegal, but only for a company that holds monopoly power.
This is Paul’s way of admitting that Microsoft was operating illegally. Though he normally spends most of his time ignoring their history or re-writing it, today he’s coming clean. He added the last bit to setup the real purpose of his piece, which I’ll get to shortly. The bottom line is you can’t abuse a monopoly unless you are a monopoly, and simply becoming a monopoly doesn’t mean you’ll abuse it.
If you read the piece and think the above two quotes aren’t the only ones that matter, I suggest you check your driver’s license to see if your name is Ed Bott, or Randall Kennedy, or Mary Jo Foley, or Rob Enderle, or… well, you get the idea.
Why The Confession?
What it boils down to is that Microsoft is incredibly abusive. The Microsoft Tax was real, stolen code was real, back door deals and threats of retribution were real. There are thousands of pages of sworn testimony and emails from numerous court cases attesting to this. Microsoft is a text-book monopoly abuse case. (Just like past abusive monopolies, when cracks in the armor appeared the founder ran off and began his philanthropy.)
So why is Paul copping to Microsoft’s true history now? Simple. If he claims Apple could become the same thing, maybe he can get the public and government to do what Microsoft and their partners can’t: Put a dent in Apple’s growth and prevent them from stomping most everyone in the marketplace with their superior products.
But to suggest potential abuse by Apple down the road is kind of silly. What are they gonna do?
- Threaten the non-Apple 90% of PC manufacturers that they must bundle iTunes on their PCs or Apple will crush them? Heck, iTunes isn’t even bundled now, customers have to download and install it. There is a bundled media player, but that would be Microsoft’s.
- Sell music tracks with DRM tied only to their own players with no way to defeat it? No, that was Microsoft. Apple never did, and ultimately removed DRM on music altogether.
- App Store rejections? Compared to the ~70,000 apps approved, the percentage is tiny, and many were reconsidered and accepted. Most have shown to be a misunderstanding, or telling only one side of the story, or simple PR. Apple has admitted they’re working on the acceptance process, that’s not abuse.
- Refuse to let iTunes “see” third-party devices? Nope. The devices are seen as external storage free to drag tracks onto. They don’t use Apple’s wonderful “sync” because Apple made that an advantage of their software. Other companies are free to do the same.
- Refuse to let other companies write sync software for their devices? Nonsense. As I’ll discuss later, RIM already has.
Where is the abuse when there are no barriers of entry to compete with Apple? Microsoft’s proven this time and again as they continue to enter contestants (that keep getting clobbered). Google entered the fray with Android and nary a ripple from Apple. RIM made the Storm and Apple couldn’t have cared less. Palm did their Pre and, except for their pirating iTunes software by hacking, Apple doesn’t care. Further, any of these guys can write their own desktop software for their own devices to compete with iTunes any time they want.
The reason companies don’t want to write their own software now is because it takes time and effort, and they’re already so far behind they want to take shortcuts, including hacking into Apple’s good work. Wah! We didn’t have Apple’s foresight and vision, so they must let us use their stuff! It’s like the squealing two little pigs banging on the door of the house of bricks.
“I Know You Are But What Am I?”
For a while now, Microsoft and their press buddies have utilized a campaign to make Apple out to be just like them. They do this because they know they’re hated while Apple is not. Windows 7 is a service pack? Yeah, well so is Snow Leopard. Windows 7 leaves XP users in the dust (upgrade to painful)? Yeah, well Snow Leopard doesn’t work on non-Intel Macs. Windows is strewn with viruses? Hey, the Mac had a Trojan Horse so it’s just the same.
It’s odd that no one at Microsoft questions this strategy. I mean, when the worst insult you can hurl at your competitor is that they’re just like you, it reflects more on you than the competitor. It’s an acknowledgment that you suck, but the competitor rightfully says “No, we’re not like you, but thanks for admitting you suck”.
What Thurrott Really Wants
The real purpose of Thurrott’s piece is to get somebody, anybody, to stop Apple. So he threatens us with the only “weapon” he has, which is to claim Microsoft’s been a tyrant for 20 years and, gee whiz, let’s not let Apple be the same. He admits Apple isn’t there, but apparently Microsoft was so bad that we shouldn’t even wait this time! Let’s stop Apple before they’re guilty of anything. Wow.
There are just a few things wrong with Thurrott’s plea:
- Exclusive phone deals were (and are) commonplace, and he never cared until Apple did it with a vastly superior smartphone, crushing Windows Mobile in the process.
- Zune’s software works with Zunes and not, say, the Palm Pre, but he never cared about this type of software being “open” until Microsoft’s failed while Apple’s remained successful.
- Microsoft’s Plays For Sure partners were completely screwed when the exclusive Zune came out, but he never cared about that.
- Every company is free to compete with Apple with their own software without any retribution from Apple or demands to “knife the baby“. But Thurrott didn’t care that they foolishly chose not to until it was obvious they missed the boat and have a lot of catching up to do. Catching up Thurrott apparently feels won’t happen.
- Even the mighty Google is free to put Google Voice on their own mobile OS (Android) and compete in the marketplace — which Apple reminded them they should do. But Thurrott doesn’t care because, like Google, he knows it’s not compelling enough for people to consider as an alternative to the iPhone.
This is the most ridiculous plea Thurrott has made since he begged those who value “your very livelihood” to band with him in demanding that Microsoft “respond to the challenges”. Well, now we see how they responded. Too bad it’s in the form of shameless rhetoric, not in the market place.
Thurrott’s apologies in the past, and rant of the present, seem to indicate that a free market and competition are foreign to him. He simply can’t imagine any company doing business without either being an illegal bully, or bullied by some other company or government. The whole concept of actually earning your place by making game-changing products that work as expected and are backed with stellar customer service completely eludes him. It eludes Microsoft as well.
Is There No Alternative?
Of course there is. For example, Research in Motion gets it. They stayed true to their successful BlackBerry devices while toying with an iPhone competitor in the Storm. They’ve also brought their own desktop software to the Mac. They didn’t whine or cry like Microsoft or Palm. They’re not trying to hack into Apple’s technology and leach their hard work and foresight. They’re building their own.
Instead of crying for help, they focused on their own core strategies and business plans. It’s clearly paid off; they’ve been as successful — maybe even more so — in the iPhone era as they were before it. And if their new stuff isn’t quite up to snuff yet, at least it’s a start, and they’ll make it better (witness the Storm 2).
But Apple Must Be Evil!
Thurrott’s shameless begging for someone to stop Apple from something he admits they’re not even doing reminds me that there are only two possible reasons for which these types of articles are written:
- To stop Apple, or slow them down, in any manner possible except via the marketplace, where attempts by all comers have failed. In short, the articles are propaganda. Thurrott’s piece, and those of the rest of the Microsoft shill choir, fall into this category.
- Page hits, tied to ego and self-importance. Face it, if you write a “Microsoft is Evil” piece, no one cares. Everyone already knows it; it’s nothing new. But if you write an “Apple is Evil” piece, people flock to it wondering if there’s some smoking gun. Instead, it’s just self-serving FUD, innuendo, and speculation. Arrington’s recent ravings, as well as the aforementioned Calacanis crap, fall into this category.
Both categories contain nothing but garbage.
You’ve got to give Microsoft credit. Having failed at making the Zune an “iPod killer,” they’ve given up and are trying to make it an “iPod touch killer.” Why go after big brother when little brother has kicked your butt for two years? Beats me; you’d have to ask Microsoft. All I can do is look at the Zune HD and see what it’s about…
Let’s face it, next week we’ll all be discussing Macworld news, so I thought I’d review some tech headlines from the last few days and get them out of my system before the real fun begins next week.
Microsoft to spare the iPhone.
Whew! Apple can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Bill Gates confirmed Microsoft will not crush them by releasing an iPhone competitor:
“No, we won’t do that. In the so-called smart phone business we will concentrate solely on software with our Windows Mobile program”
Funniest thing about that quote is that Gates called it the “so-called” smartphone business. No doubt because it’s running Windows Mobile. I guess if it were running some other OS it would be a smarter phone.
Windows Vista and Office 2007 flunk classes in Britain.
The UK is discouraging the use of Windows Vista and Office 2007 at British schools:
“Upgrading existing ICT systems to Microsoft Vista or Office 2007 is not recommended,” said the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, also known as Becta, in a report issued this week.
To be honest, had they gone after Vista due to its all-around failure in the marketplace, instability and bugginess I’d be all for this. This, however, seems less like a stab at Vista (after all, Office 2007 by all accounts is an OK product) and more a pitch for open source products.Not sure a thousand school systems all running a different flavor of open source OS and office apps would be the best thing.
Bon Voyage to the Voyager.
Verizon tries hard not to claim the Voyager is an iPhone killer. No doubt they do this to keep people from comparing the two. Still, their ads tout the “touch screen”, and they want consumers to think of them as similar. They just don’t want techies to do that because they know what’ll happen, and it did.In his review, Walt Mossberg was excessively kind to the Voyager regarding it using a 3G network. He’s not a fan of AT&T, so the fact the Voyager is Verizon gets a plus, and he even tags it as costing less, though it requires a mail-in rebate and he doesn’t take into account the data/voice plan! Whatever.OK, Walt, no one will accuse you of sucking up to Apple now because you’ve given the Voyager more than it deserves. You can be honest now:
And it lacks the iPhone’s ability to use Wi-Fi hot spots and home networks, which are often faster than Verizon’s 3G network.
It also has only about half the battery life; a smaller, lower-resolution screen, and just a fraction of the Apple’s internal memory.
the Voyager suffers badly in the area where Apple’s phone shines: software.
As with so many of the new feature-packed mobile phones, the Voyager’s user interface is clumsy and confusing, requiring too many steps to perform simple tasks.
its applications, such as the photo organizer, music player, Web browser and email program, are primitive compared with the iPhone’s.
That’s enough. You get the idea. The Voyager is no iPhone. This should have been obvious when all the ads show of the “touch screen” is it lighting up when touched. If they showed any more you’d know what a klutzy phone it is.
NBC Universal continues battle against consumer rights piracy.
NBC Universal has formed a coalition of companies to help develop anti-piracy measures. Good idea, guys. It’s not like that’s ever been tried.I mean, it’s not like anyone or any group or body developed some kind of, oh, let’s just call it Digital Rights Management, or DRM for short, with the aim of protecting content.
“A disproportionately large amount of [internet] traffic on our networks is peer-to-peer. The cost of that traffic is passed on to the user base,” he said. “We all have a stake in solving the [piracy] problem.”
Now that NBC Universal is on the case, I’m sure we’ll finally get solid, fair, un-crackable DRM for video that will be a win-win for everybody!Riiiiiiight.
Sysadmin hacks employer who didn’t fire him.
This one’s a real beauty, and gets better as you read it. Let me get this straight:
- Idiot thinks he’s going to get laid off.
- Idiot places destructive code in employer’s HP-Unix systems.
- Idiot does not get laid off.
- Idiot leaves the destructive code in anyway!
This is a riot, right? What a moron. Oh, but it gets better. So much better.
- Idiot’s code goes off on appointed day, but has a bug so it doesn’t work.
- Idiot fixes bug, and resets code for same date next year!
- Idiot’s destructive code is found by co-worker.
- Idiot pleads guilty.
Paul Thurrott finally asks a reasonable question.
Paul is a piece of work. After talking up the Zune 2.0 and following the Microsoft party line, he now decides to mention that it has so many things wrong with it that it needs serious work.Most of us not drinking Redmond Kool-Aid already knew that, but Paul spells it out pretty well.
Adobe updates Photoshop Elements for Mac (finally).
After more than two years (it won’t ship until March) and bypassing version 5.0 completely, Adobe is finally upgrading Photoshop Elements on the Mac.I’ve written about Adobe’s treatment of the Mac before, and this way-too-darn-long delay in getting a modern (and native) PE for the Mac is just one example.I ran PE on the PC before switching to the Mac, and it’s a fine product. I’m not crazy about the new colored interface but the feature upgrades look good even coming from PE 5 on the PC. Coming from PE 4 on a Mac they look great.I’m happy for Mac PE users, but I still think it’s ridiculous they had to wait this long for an update and Intel-native code. I don’t know why the Mac crowd puts up with that. As much as I liked PE on the PC, I’ll always explore alternatives on the Mac.
Paul Thurrott believes shoppers think the year-old Zune 30 (you know, the huge, brown, Boat Anchor one) is suddenly a great MP3 player.
Paul uses an article by Macworld as an excuse to drool all over the “success” of the closeout brown Boat Anchor 30 (BA30) Zune being #1 on Amazon’s MP3 player list (it’s given away for $172). The black BA30 is also cheap, but even with a better color the extra $25 is too much, so it’s at #10 — behind five iPods.
Does Paul reasonably conclude this is nothing more than people getting pulled in by the blowout pricing, will only last until old inventory is gone, and therefore can’t be deemed a “success” by anyone thinking clearly? Nope. This is Paul, a shill among shills, so instead he treats us to gems like this:
“So, yeah, I get it: 7 of the top 10 MP3 players on Amazon are iPods. But two of them are Zunes. (The other is a SanDisk player.)”
It’s disingenuous to say “two of them are Zunes”. Let’s characterize them properly as “two of them are first-generation BA30 Zunes at blowout prices”, OK? With that fact in mind, there are two very obvious conclusions to be made:
- Blowing out the old BA30s was bound to find buyers sucked in by price. Big deal. Microsoft was losing money at $250, and losing even more now, but it’s better than sending them to the land fill.
- The new Zunes (i.e., version 2) are a bust; they’re nowhere to be found on the Top 10 list.
Yep, the most obvious thing is that the new Zunes are failing. Instead, Paul concludes that shoppers — who avoided the BA30 for an entire year — have suddenly decided it’s great. I guess that’s the best way Microsoft could spin it, and Paul had to go along for the ride.
In order to try saving a little face, Paul writes:
“The real story here, of course, isn’t that Apple is still doing great… It’s that those two Zune players in the top 10 on Amazon aren’t even the new ones. They’re both Zune 30 models that have been discounted since last year. Yikes.”
I guess “Yikes” is supposed to imply Apple should somehow be concerned that the old BA Zune is selling. But since it’s only at blowout prices, and new Zunes are nowhere to be found, that’s laughable! Again, Paul implies last year’s failed BA30 is suddenly a legitimate product. Not only that, apparently the brown one is everyone’s favorite! Heck, even Microsoft disagrees with Paul on that; they’ve admitted brown is a disaster by discounting it more heavily than black and avoiding it in the new model lineup.
Moving on, Paul let’s a little truth slip in:
“So how are the new Zunes fairing on Amazon? Not too well”
In other words, see the second obvious assumption above.
“..the highest-ranked Zune 4/8 model is number 69 from what I can tell. That doesn’t seem right, but that’s what it says.”
Nice strategy: When all else fails, feign ignorance.
The new Zunes are duds so far. Period. Microsoft should be thrilled that during major holiday shopping they cracked the Top One Hundred. That’s all the BA30 ever did last year. No matter what Paul implies, perceptive people will conclude that being behind Apple this year is fairing Microsoft no better than being behind Apple last year.
Sometimes I feel sorry for Paul. Apparently he can’t go back to Microsoft for better material to work with, and he’ll be tagged as pretty foolish for the Zune crap he’s spewing now. Oh well, he must have known the shill job could be embarrassing when he took it.