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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Zune Pass: A Sheep In Wolves' Clothing

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 01:30 PM

http://www.zunerama.com/articles_023.php#071102_zune2_story

"Here's the hypothesis: once a household has a single Zune with a Zune Pass... it becomes a great motivator for other household members to choose Zune players over any other player. The reasoning, of course, is that by "going Zune", those follow-on household members not only get a great little media player, they get unlimited music to load on that player."

Zune Journey's opening screen (captured by Harvey from Zunerama)

Harvey from Zunerama raises an interesting point. Families that purchase a Zune and a Zune Pass are more likely to be repeat/multiple buyers, simply because of the convenience, the familiar experience, and, oh, the vendor lock-in. Now where have we heard that argument before?

It's really a shame to have to think of it that way, but it's true. Microsoft's announcement that the new Marketplace will up the number of authorized Zunes per Pass from 2 to 3 is undoubtedly a good thing. Families can save money by a) using the subscription and avoiding a la carte services and b) reducing the number of subscription-enabled accounts, but do you really want your dad's bluegrass collection (or your son's latest "Soulja Boy" track) to show up on your perfectly primmed Social page? This'll be especially true when Microsoft follows Napster/Rhapsody in allowing you to access your library from anywhere via the web.

Even when sharing an account, converting your family and friends to the Social is completely in Microsoft's interest. The money they lose through familial account sharing is more than made up through extra device sales and repeat business. One of the key draws of Zune is of course its wireless sharing ability. This feature is completely useless without another Zune owner with whom I can share*, and thus it's in my interest to get my friends to buy Zunes so I can swap songs with them. Also, I'm all but guaranteed to make my next purchase a Zune if the aforesaid conditions are met and I have a significant stake in my Marketplace-acquired content. Sure, tracks downloaded from the Marketplace will work on PlaysForSure devices (at least for now...who knows what DRM the new ecosystem will use), but P4S is a dying breed, and I highly doubt we'll be seeing a surge of new P4S players anytime soon.

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