For many years, there has never been a technology battle so public such as the one between Apple and Microsoft. The two companies have been at it for the longest time, since the time of the computer boom in the 1980s, in fact. They have each been releasing their own brand of software and hardware in a seeming friendly competition of who is better than whom. But this all changed when Apple introduced the iPod. It instantly swept the world off of its feet and took the tech and non-tech population by storm. After all, how could something so small and sexy hold so much entertainment?
For years, Apple took advantage of this newfound glory and continued releasing smaller and better models of the iPod, each of them sporting larger storage systems in thinner and sleeker models. All of this time, Microsoft stood idly by and concentrated on other things such as mobile software and their own Windows OS. Then in 2006, Microsoft dropped a bombshell: they released the first ever Microsoft-driven mp3, picture and video player, the Zune.
It was a silent release and there wasn’t much hype surrounding it, unlike Apple. CEO Steve Jobs makes it a point to introduce Apple’s products to the world with such gusto, to keep the market hungry and wanting for more. So what is the Zune exactly? And why has it caught the attention of many iPod users as well?
Microsoft’s Zune is a digital multimedia product that has taken its place in a world crowded with iPods. All three styles of the Zune can play music, display images and play videos; all can receive FM radio signals and even shows station information; and all can share files wirelessly with other Zune units and even with Microsoft’s gaming platform, the Xbox 360, but only via a USB cable.
The latest models are known as the Zune 4, 8, and 80 and were all announced for release in October 2007. They sport a new touchpad surface, can sync without cables, support podcasts (made famous by Apple), and even supports WMV and Mpeg4 formats (the Mpeg4 is the only video format that can be used on iPod). The Zune 80 has a large 3.2 inch screen and now new firmware for the latest device has been released to improve its performance.
Now here is a player that seems to be giving the iPod a run for its money. The Zune clearly has more support and is not too strict with formats and it can do a whole lot more than the iPod can do, including wireless syncing which is a feature many people should enjoy. Basically, it seems Microsoft has finally given a solution to free people from the “tyranny” of Apple’s iPod.
However, since the introduction of the Zune, Apple has been busy with their devices as well. They have made the iPod smaller and thinner, with even more storage than one can handle. Their latest iPod classic can take in 160 gigs of music and video data! But it doesn’t end there. Although the iPod still does not sync wirelessly and only supports the same video format without opening to other formats, Apple has made sure that the iPod still has a place in the consumer pocket. How? Look at the iPod of today. The iPod Nano now plays video (something that was unexpected); Apple introduced the iPhone which is not only a phone but an iPod and an Internet communicator; Apple later introduced iTouch which is an iPhone without the phone capabilities, is thinner but sports the same touch screen technology that everybody is learning to love.
So it goes without saying that although Zune has introduced something to go up against the giants in the mp3 market, Apple has taken a different step and re-invented their iPod. Is Apple still ahead in the game? Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.