We meant to address all this business about Zune yesterday, but couldn't have done so as eloquently as those cats over at the International Herald Tribune.
(One imagines contributors to such a vaunted publication dressed in smoking jackets, sipping Armagnac and sitting at Underwood typewriters, their ascots loosened to allow for better thinking. But we digress.)
If the word "Zune" means almost nothing to you, you're not alone. Apple currently controls just about 77 percent of the download-able music business in the U.S. via its iTunes. Everyone else is pretty much an also-ran.
Microsoft hopes change all that with its new device, the Zune, which looks suspiciously like an iPod and costs about the same, too: $250 bucks to own one; 99 cents to buy a song.
Zune is, in fact, different on two main counts: One it also offers a subscription music service, and two, it allows an ersatz peer-to-peer filing sharing network amongst other Zune users.
In other words, Microsoft is betting that you'll be interested in renting music, as well as owning it: It works like this - you pay $15 bucks a month, and presto, you've got access to a song for three days. If you like it, you can buy it. If you want to share it with a pal who also has Zune, no problem: There's a means to share music wirelessly.
The headache, of course, is for those companies who are partnering with Microsoft on its Windows Media Player.
"The Redmond Wash.-based company announced that it will price its new device at $249, putting itself in position to harm partners who rely Microsoft's PlayForSure alliance - a partnership of manufacturers united under Microsoft's Windows Media Player."
If you find that reprehensible, consider this irony: The best way to punish Microsoft for hurting smaller manufacturers might be to actually buy a Zune.