What Killed The Zune?

March 22, 2011 at 9:08 AM Leave a comment

File this under “no surprises”: Microsoft is ditching the Zune.

Why? Because the product was born out of a need to compete, instead of being created to meet customer needs and desires.

It wasn’t bad as a device – it had a great screen, and a few new ideas. But no one seemed to feel the Zune promised them anything they needed.

What did the Zune promise? Unlimited access to a large music library for a monthly fee of $14.99 – for as long as you kept up your subscription.

In theory, a nice feature. How do you test a theory? By asking your customers if your theory sucks or not. How many times to you need to hear people say that they want to own tunes, not rent them, before you believe them?

What did the Zune promise? The ability to download tunes you hear on FM radio, and from wi-fi hotspots.

The reality: the FM idea sounded good until you realized that most iPod users considered FM radio that thing their parents listen to in the car.

The wi-fi downloads made sense – who wants to wait till they get home to download music? But Microsoft took a couple of years to get that going. During those years (2006-2008) car companies were already coming out with iPod docks.

What did the Zune promise? The ability to share tunes. This is a cool feature, their big innovation, and it might have taken off if they had done it right. As it happened, they forgot to ask customers, “How valuable would you find the ability to give your friends tunes that lasted for 3 lousy plays?” Plus, sharing presupposed a group of Zune users, and Zune users never got thick enough on the ground to congregate in groups.

There were other problems – the high price, the brown color, and having one model versus the wide range of iPods available – but the main reason for the Zune’s demise is Microsoft’s failure to listen.


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at www.fuseinsight.com


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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