iPod v.s. Zune: Apple's Marketing Mistake 1

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 by , under , , , , ,

You know what Zune is. You have seen, heard or even felt it one way or another. Maybe you've even bought the little thing. Or consider buying it for this upcoming Xmas (or whatever you're celebrating at that time). And you probably hate Microsoft for coming up with something that looks and sounds probably more democratic than the iPod. And you're disappointed at Apple. Because has Apple made a big mistake with their iPod marketing: they have built a sect.


First, they have gathered everyone under their "Think Different" ideology, and had them buy their product because of that ideology and all the difference it brought in the world, and the world thought that it was a good thing. And it was.

Then, they have regrouped all their activities under the appealing iTunes, so that people would be better served under one functional, low-cost, low-piracy, high-selection system-of-purchase with, of course, limited usage licenses. What? Okay, maybe. But what if...? Oh never mind. It's Apple. They're good people.

But then, they started spreading their iPod categories into different sub-categories. Which now meant you had to choose between a) just listening to music, b) music and videos, c) the low-cost, less feature Shuffle option, and d) The iPod Nano. "Ooo. I wanna change. I wanna buy a new version of my iPod", you think. "But wait. Can't I have all these things in just one gizmo? Sony is doing it, and everybody else is! It looks...different...better", say you. "No!", say the Apple Sect leaders. That's not the same! We invented difference! Don't try to change things! Think Different (tm) !

But you're already starting to feel a bit queasy. There's that cool Sony PSP, that actually offers more features than the iPod, at a lower price. There are loads or cheaper mp3 players, that actually play mp3s too. Basically, all you wanted was music, right? But also, you have cell phones with mp3 players, and now, this strange Zune thing? You want out of the sect. You want to see what's out there. But getting out of the "Sect of Thinking Differently" is hard: sect members are definitive: "iPod is the coolest". If you don't own an iPod, you're not among the cool anymore. You're not using the Best Technology Available (Apple Sect Bible, chapter3, chant 2: iPod is the best technology available) Plus, it shows you're not part of those who "think differently".

"Be-like-us. Think differently. Be-like-us. Think differently", they all chant.

This hurts and shames you. And it makes your parting from the iPod sect the harder. Seeing they have gained back ground on your disappointment, the Apple Sect leaders try an even stronger solution. A solution that worked great back in 1998: color. They market an iPod with backlit color screens.

"Everybody will want one!", they say. They have this cool ad featuring people dancing with their color iPods, producing wild streams of color. "Color is freedom!", "Color is difference!", "everyone should go for color!" The "Sect of Thinking Differently" chants louder.

Old trick. You've heard it all before: looks arent' everything, it's what's inside that counts. You want a product that lets you discover what difference is. You want a product that doesn't constrain you, but allows you to break boundaries. And you don't want to be the property of a brand image anymore. You want your freedom.







Zune has heard you. And to prove you they understand, they decided to democratize their marketing: they're not proposing a distinctive brand image or communication, but simply gave power to the people. Zune is a lot of things: it's not one thing. Zune is a tool of discovery.
With Zune Arts, they propel this fresh idea to the iPod universe, which stands befuddled.
Most people will say "Damn Microsoft! We think your product might actually be cool! But we hate you! WE WANT TO HATE YOU! Must...resist...Zune... ".
And so a new PC vs Mac epic has begun. But maybe this time, the "light" side is not who you think it is anymore. Unless you're thinking differently.
Here are a few of Zune's latest commercials. Enjoy.








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