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Zune Update: welcome to the social November 2, 2006

Posted by sk in iPod, Microsoft, Music, Technology and Software, YouTube, Zune.
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Meet Zune

With less than two weeks to go before the US launch, Microsoft has been trying to build up excitement slowly. First it was some viral ads on comingzune.com. Yesterday, the official Zune website, zune.net finally came up. Apparently, Microsoft couldn’t buy zune.com. Also, Cesar Menendez has posted some of the TV spots on YouTube. Microsoft’s advertising strategy is clearly apparent from this. They’re following the same strategy that brands like American Eagle, Gap etc. follow – targeting the youth. Only time will tell if this’ll be successful. Oh, and by the way, Zune does have some cool accessories.

UPDATE: The Zune team has released a cool theme for Windows XP. It’s based on the Windows Royale theme with black taskbars instead of blue. Not surprisingly, the start button is brown. You can get the theme here. Sadly, the theme doesn’t work with Ubuntu.

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1. Cotton - November 3, 2006

I quite liked the win xp theme. Too bad that you are with ubuntu now!! Switch back to Windows 😉

2. ramare - November 3, 2006

I dont think the strategy is working. How else would you explain all the buzz with nano 2.0 …..Most of the the attention is focussed on nano…no one seems to be interested in Zune other than techies like you.

And secondly, following the slow build strategy for a new product doesnt seem right to be. I always feel when you should enter a new market, you should enter with bang. And the Bang should be loud enough for every one to atleast notice you as a player.

Also, when you enter market like this one. Either your product should redefine the size of market or you go in with an intention to grab a sizable chunk on excitement or curiousity you create when you enter (the BANG I was talking about). To my knowledge (Most of it provided by you folks!!), Zune is not expanding or redefining market size by any means….now Ballmer and his team are left with product which they intend to improve like they do with windows (patch upgrade system).

To me product is fine….marketing is not in line with MS standards

3. ramare - November 3, 2006

I dont think the strategy is working. How else would you explain all the buzz with nano 2.0 …..Most of the the attention is focussed on nano…no one seems to be interested in Zune other than techies like you.

And secondly, following the slow build strategy for a new product doesnt seem right to be. I always feel when you enter a new market, you should enter with bang. And the Bang should be loud enough for every one to atleast notice you as a player.

Also, when you enter market like this one. Either your product should redefine the size of market or you go in with an intention to grab a sizable chunk on excitement or curiousity you create when you enter (the BANG I was talking about). To my knowledge (Most of it provided by you folks!!), Zune is not expanding or redefining market size by any means….now Ballmer and his team are left with product which they intend to improve like they do with windows (patch upgrade system).

To me product is fine….marketing is not in line with MS standards

4. Parmanu - November 3, 2006

“..no one seems to be interested in Zune other than techies like you…”
As usual diverting the topic a bit, and quoting this above sentence only for an example…, I am seeing this almost everywhere..

I hate this word ‘techie’ being associated to people who are interested in computer technology and the word ‘technology’ itself being referred to in general as computer technology…

One should be very specific on what they reffering to. Technology entails lot lot of things. As a matter of fact, release of new product\software or its general features are hardly “technology”.

Just a thought. Its sure is technology but its too generalized term for a very small percentage of what ‘technology’ is.

5. shrav - November 3, 2006

“Too bad that you are with ubuntu now!! Switch back to Windows.”

I actually liked the theme too. Installed it on my desktop. It’s a lot more professional than XP’s default Luna theme.

“I dont think the strategy is working. How else would you explain all the buzz with nano 2.0 …..Most of the the attention is focussed on nano…no one seems to be interested in Zune other than techies like you.”
The buzz with Nano will always be there. No one should expect a product to come in and push the market leader out immediately. Also, I would like to reserve judgment about the campaign until a few days after the product is launched. By then we’ll get to know how successful/unsuccessful the product has been.

Different companies have tried various marketing strategies against the iPod and so far, nothing seems to have worked. I am not sure if this one will. Only time will tell.

“I hate this word ‘techie’ being associated to people who are interested in computer technology and the word ‘technology’ itself being referred to in general as computer technology…”

🙂 AFAIC, ‘techie’ is way better than ‘geek’. If ramare had said, “only geeks like you are interested in it,” I would have beaten him up! :-p

6. Parmanu - November 3, 2006

what the F is AFAIC?? That sure sounds geek. Oh I meen greek.

7. planetsk - November 3, 2006

” Its sure is technology but its too generalized term for a very small percentage of what ‘technology’ is”

-I agree. “techie” is more general..not just computers..could be anything involving science…i hate the word “hi-tech” too..technology is technology not low or high..”advanced tech” sounds better to me than hi-tech..whatever..who cares..:)

Regarding Zune, it’s just a matter of a few days..my guess is the initial sales will be high due to holiday season..and then will depend on customer reviews..it wont be a BANG as it is competing with already existing similar product..as I always thought MS is entering the market very late..meanwhile,
check these:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061103/tc_cmp/193501264
commercial of Zune..

8. shrav - November 3, 2006

“what the F is AFAIC?? ”

I got it from whistling woods’ blog. It means: As Far As I’m Concerned.

“Regarding Zune, it’s just a matter of a few days..my guess is the initial sales will be high due to holiday season..and then will depend on customer reviews..”

It will also depend on the XBox and how well the Zune integrates with it. Reports suggest that close to 10 mn. XBox 360s will be sold by the year end and if Microsoft can get even half of those people interested in a Zune, it’ll be a good start for them.

So, maybe it’s going to be: XBox + Windows Vista + Zune vs. iTV + OS X Leopard + iPod.

9. shrav - November 5, 2006

ramare,

A Microsoftie working on the Zune, Bill Wittress has a post that should answer your questions about why MS thinks it’s a good product:

http://www.zuneguy.com/2006/10/missing-point.html

10. ramare - November 5, 2006

Shrav

Firstly “techie” was used instead of “Geek”…..I thot Geek would take the arguement in a different direction (Did not succeed I must say)…

Like most of groups get noted by dominent players….technology in common parlance goes with IT (IT should actually include hardware such as chip makers…but most of the times IT industry means software industry)…and I am not the one who discovered this stereotype nor Do I subscribe to it…Just common place references.

And “Advance Tech” PLANETSK??? Were you serious abt that???

I have no problem with ZUNE as a product. I think it is a good product too. And obviously I dont expect Zune to beat up Ipod as soon as it lands in the market…Coming from company which had Bill Gates Legacy (who I think is a marketing genius!!….Still in first half of “The Road Ahead”) the marketing campaign is kinda lukewarm.

I am expecting Zune to snap up market shares of Creative, iRiver…and other MP3s players. I think that process would have been accelerated if it entered the market the way nano made its entry….amidst fanfare.

11. shrav - November 5, 2006

“Coming from company which had Bill Gates Legacy… the marketing campaign is kinda lukewarm.”

I don’t know. I don’t even think the product looks all that great and I definitely won’t be getting the first gen Zune (for that matter, I won’t even buy an iPod), but that’s beside the point.

Microsoft has been extremely secretive about the Zune. With 10 days to go before the launch, several people haven’t even heard about it. But, maybe that’s what they want to do with it – build a user base through word-of-mouth advertising. I don’t know. I will be able to comment on their marketing campaign only when I know who the target audience is.

And, by the way, Apple is in a position now with the iPod where they don’t even have to advertise it and it’ll be successful. The buzz surrounding the 2nd gen Nano’s entry into the market had more to do with word of mouth advertising than Apple’s official campaign. I don’t think that’s something money can buy.

12. Cotton - November 5, 2006

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. But the problem with marketing and revenue recognition is that it is extremely difficult to predict whether the sales were a RESULT of marketing or not. And even if it was, then what kind of marketing actually did the trick? We never know!

But it has been observed that bad marketing does hurt the launch of a product. It also hurts products later down the line when the competitors are coming up with new stuff or new versions!

13. ramare - November 5, 2006

I agree that word of mouth advertising is the best form. Generally because it comes with personal endorsement from an existing customer. There were several methods which are used to calculate the impact of word of mouth advertising.

One such method is “Agent Based Modeling” which is essentially a simulation tool which quantifies interactions between agents (customers). Pepsi uses this kind of marketing methods to measure possible impact of new products/packages on their customer segments.

One of keys drivers found for higher number of interactions between agents (customers) is marketing methods used. One such idea which microsoft used in past with lots of success is curiosity marketing (Original Windows ads still remain classic case studies). For some reason MS did not use that this time.

I was talking abt nano 1.0’s debut. It was released with gigantic Fanfare and everyone was raving abt the product with even getting to touch it.

And Cotton,

there are models which predict and quantify what kind of marketing resulted in percentage of incremental sales (Marketing Mix Models). Did not mean to preach/teach….merely worked with them some time ago

14. Cotton - November 5, 2006

Which marketing mix model are you talking about? What I meant is that you can’t predict with certainty whether a particular sale occurred because of a company’s marketing or the consumer’s inherent behavior pattern. The consumer might have made the purchase because of reasons other than “marketing” too. There is no certain way by which you can know what happens in the Black Box. It’s as good as reading someone’s mind.

15. ramare - November 5, 2006

Marketing Mix Models are regression models which estimate sales impact given the promotion (could be anything from discounts, ad campaigns, expert endorsements…). These generally used to calculate NPV of marketing campaign before it is rolled out.

I agree with you when you say inherent consumer behavior is similar to black box. Most of the Market Research is geared towards understaning this black box using quantitative methods like regression models and neural networks. P&G uses Marketing Mix Models extensively with their FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods).

These models provide statistical estimates of incremental sales, they are not exact numbers per se.

16. ramare - November 5, 2006

This will give you basic picture:

http://www.marketinganalytics.com/site/mix.htm

17. Cotton - November 6, 2006

Ramare,
I understand what you mean. But I don’t get how regression models and neural networks can be used to predict the nature of the Black Box? Maybe I’m being too stubborn about this whole issue 🙂 I guess we could use any quantitative technique to have sales forecasts…but these forecasts will always be based on some kind of accounting number which can be manipulated. I guess I’m being overly critical.

18. Parmanu - November 7, 2006

“And “Advance Tech” PLANETSK??? Were you serious abt that???”

I dont see anything wrong in “Advance Tech”. Its relative to current technology. we can certainly have advanced techology. I hate the word ‘hi-tech’ too. And also ‘software engineer’. Almost a pardox to me!

I will call shrav techie for many other reasons I know abt him in person, but not for reviewing looks and marketing for zune, ipod, launchy, or vista..
Thats NOT techonlogy.

And unless this blog regularly reviews different technologies like biomedical, material sciences, aerospace, thermal, etc…other than computers(even that we have not done in pure technical sense), I dont think it could be qualified as a ‘Tech Blog’.
‘Distasteful Blog’ is okay though.

19. sk - November 9, 2006

“Maybe I’m being too stubborn about this whole issue I guess we could use any quantitative technique to have sales forecasts…but these forecasts will always be based on some kind of accounting number which can be manipulated.”

But it wouldn’t be in the company’s interests to manipulate the numbers? Why would they want to do that? Especially since this is for their own internal forecasts.

I do agree with you that the exact effect of each marketing strategy cannot be evaluated by these models. There are customer surveys and stuff to try and figure out which strategy works best, but having taken those surveys myself, I can’t vouch for their accuracy. There are other analytical techniques to estimate the effect of each strategy, but, they’re only estimates after all. This is precisely the reason companies don’t use just one medium for advertising. For example, out of 70 mn. or so iPods sold, how do you accurately estimate how many of them were a result of TV spots and how many due to word of mouth advertising?


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