One of the many astute observations made by the street philosopher and urban griot, Bonty Killa, in his seminal work on the moral decay urban centers, Caan Believe Mi Eye, was his observation that “everybody wan go heaven but no body wan dead.” This is a perfect metaphor for the corporate relationship to innovation. All companies want the heavenly rewards that result from successful innovation but few are willing to allow legacy systems, processes, hierarchies, thinking and models to die so that they can get there.
Today Microsoft announced that they will be releasing the Zune Player on Nov. 14th and dropping the price to $249.99. This after Microsoft was thrown into a tizzy when Apple announced that its next generation iPod would retail for $249 and speculation started to swirl about what the final price of the Zune would have to be in order for it move off shelves. The original price of the ZUNE ($284), was leaked by WalMart and many laughed at the viability of the Zune making headway against the iPod at this price point.
Now that Microsoft was put a date and a price on its player all thats left is to cross its fingers and hope someone cares. The official Microsoft press release is here. My unofficial interpretation of a few lines from the press release follows.
Only one of the statements in the headline is true and its not the one with Dogs or pathological liars. The Register and TechDirt are running a stories on the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) getting sued by the innocent and hardworking software developers at Limewire. Yes thats right, that Limewire. The one with all the great music and software uploaded and distributed by your fellow Americans and yours to plunder without payment to anyone.
Corey Ward, an e-Entrepreneur, was ranting and raving about the possibility of Orkut overtaking Myspace as the reining social network. After reading his post and doing a bit of digging of my own I think he may be onto something, its just not what he thinks. Corey points out that Orkut’s Alexa ranking is looking pretty good relative to flat Myspace ranking. While this is a very interesting observation (good catch Corey) its not the whole story.
On Monday Napster issued a press release, which got great pick-up, stating that it was gonna try to parlay the scant $97 million it has in the bank, the mirage of increasing traffic and a brand which is still incredibly popular with geriatric investment bankers, into a windfall for senoir management and a modest return for investors. In the press release company CEO, Chris Gorong, who owns about 700k shares of the companies stock, which at todays close ($4.01) is worth about $2.8 million, said that his company intends to “thoughtfully examine potential combinations that may further enhance Napster’s unique strategic and brand position in the center of digital media.” In other words, they’re gonna pretend they’re still relevant, collect as many offers as they can and sell while big media companies are in an acquisitive mood. Dump it fella’s, sell for as much as you can.
I really wanted to title this post “Zune everyone will get the Urge for an iPod”, but thought better of it. What good would it do to make fun of the two companies I’d most like to work for in the future, if for no other reason then to get a bit of what their smoking. The real question though is how to best sum up last weeks buzz about Microsoft’s hurried announcement of the Zune player, in response to Apple’s more interesting iTV/iPod announcements? Dare I joke about the dorky name? Have I the tech chops to suggest that another DRM crippled player isnt what the music industry needs. Should I play it straight, parrot the pundits and shill the Zune’s main selling point, limited Wifi sharing (3 tracks in 3 days and then poof its gone)? In the midst of all this musing it struck me, the real story here isnt that the Zune player is gonna take down Apple’s iTunes/iPod combo. The real story is that the Zune player could be the final nail in the coffin of the MusicGremlin. Never heard of it? Exactly!