What is The Big Deal with Zune Anyway?

Yesterday Scoble stopped by and hung out with us. He brought two brand new Zune portable music players with him - a gadget lover's dream. In case you missed it, Microsoft started shipping Zune on Nov 14th. You can read one of the press releases here. So there we were with Scoble and two Zunes; one black and one translucent brown (chocolat). Given that we are the gadget search engine, it was natural for Scoble to ask us to play with them and give him our first-hand feedback and we did just that. You can read all about this on Scoble's blog here. Of course he also interviewed us, did a video shoot of our product demo and captured our whole experience around setting up Zune live (and we offered him gourmet lunch - that would be pizza). This video should go on his ScobleShow in next few weeks.
There is nothing that unusual about Zune other than peer-to-peer sharing and Wi-Fi connectivity. Steve Jobs has gone on record discounting the "community" aspect of Zune favoring the sharing of earbuds instead. Jobs has been right about lot of things but he could be wrong about this one. Enabling instant peer-to-peer communication has huge implications socially, economically and legally. Think beyond music. Think of any communication: IM, music, video, whatever. Add to this the dimension of true peer-to-peer without any centralized servers that might store and track your communication. Why is IM so popular on mobile phones? Because it is convenient and people can communicate whenever and wherever they want. Would they want to do the same with music and video? You betcha! Eliminate the performance constraints and people will do it on portable devices just the way they do it on their computing devices. Wi-Fi in a limited geography (such as a college campus) enables this. Can you imagine college students using Zune to IM while on campus (well once Zune or ipod or another music player supports this)? I can.
So, now we get to convergence. What is the big deal with all this sharing? I can do all this with my mobile phone. I want to use my music player or a video player to do a singular thing, right? Wrong. Music players (some incarnation of these) will turn into converged devices that will support all means of communication and playback. The same way as mobile phones are starting to support audio/video playback. Apple and Microsoft have a real opportunity here if they execute it right, especially Apple. Apple has a product with strong customer affinity. Apple was not the first manufacturer to ship music players, but Apple was the first manufacturer that took a functional product and made it an affinity-based product using a combination of good HW, industrial design, and software. I will let you decide which product you will want to own? A (future) Verizon phone with audio/video sharing & playback or a (future) Apple ipod with email and phone capability. I know which one I would want to own!
Oh! And you can see all the interesting information Retrevo has about Zune here.

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