Is Zune The iPod Killer?

    November 9, 2006

You would think an epic battle was being fought if you listened to the hype being generated about Microsoft releasing an “equivalent” to Apple’s iPod. Who will win the war of the digital music players: iPod or Zune?

On November 14th, the world will finally see if Microsoft has created a superior product to Apple. Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, Zune, has created a quite a buzz among skeptics and the curious public since the announcement of the device.

It would seem that iPod is the monopoly in portable music players, controlling 70 percent of the market. So why then would anyone attempt to compete with device? Microsoft is competing simply for capital gain, of course. Since it’s release five years ago, Apple has sold over 60 million iPods and made a tremendous profit.

Other companies have attempted to compete with the iPod and capitalize on its popularity by introducing their own versions of portable music players. So far none have even come close to being competition, but Microsoft apparently felt they could create a rival product that was equivalent to the iPod.

Critics do not seem to think that Zune has much of a chance either. “I’m very skeptical about its ability to take hold in a market that already has a dominant player. It doesn’t feel disruptive enough to gain a foothold,” said Ted Schadler, a Forrester analyst.

Skepticism aside, it is time for Zune and iPod to put on their gloves and step into the ring to battle it out for the title of the superior product. This article will compare the features and services of both Zune and iPod in their 30G versions.

On the issue of price Zune is barely ahead of iPod currently because of a recent price reduction. The price of Zune was originally reported at $284 and then dropped to $229 after iPod’s price was lowered to $249. The cost was determined to attempt to market to a college-aged demographic.

Zune wins again in screen size, boasting a 3″ screen while the iPod only has a 2.5″ screen. However, both devices have the same resolution meaning that while the Zune screen may be bigger the picture is more pixilated because it is stretched.

However the iPod is light and slimmer than Zune and is also the clear winner in the category of battery life with 14/4 hours, over Zune’s 12.

Zune has three more advantages over iPod: FM radio capability, WiFi connectivity, and music download prices. iPod does not have FM radio or WiFi capabilities and its songs cost 99 cents a piece to download. Zune has a pay-per-month downloading plan, which allows customers to download as much music as they wish.

Microsoft made a valiant effort with Zune, but iPod knocked it out in the end. iPod wins in all major, and technical categories such as OS support of both Windows and Mac and has an easy to use click wheel for navigating the device. Also iPod is most definitely the standard in portable music players and most definitely has longevity. With it’s Pod Casts, iTunes, and online communities. iPod also has far more features and capabilities than Zune.

Perhaps Zune and iPod will have a rematch in the future, but for now the fight between heavyweight champion iPod and featherweight Zune just does not seem fair. To check out Zune for yourself, visit YouTube for an informative video.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.