Friday, September 11, 2009
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 05:00 PM
First, some background on this problem. Here's what I said in my analysis of the iPod announcements:
"iTunes is in 23 countries. The Zune Marketplace is in one. Microsoft's US-centric approach with the Zune is maddening...I thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel when they launched the Zune in Canada last year, but we never got the Zune Marketplace here, and now the devices being sold here are being killed off. "Disaster" is a good word for how well the Zune launch went in Canada. Between the Zune HD being US-only at launch, and all of the IP-based geographic blocking madness that the Zune software and Web site does, it's like the Zune team is doing everything they can to alienate everyone in the world outside the US."
In the resulting discussion from the post, the issue of this US-centric approach to the Zune was brought up several times, and I floated this theory:
"Apple was the first company to negotiate big, international music distribution deals, and way back then most of the music labels probably though Apple would fail, or at best only be mildly successful. So they said "Sure, 99 cents sounds fine as long as the bit rate sucks." Fast-forward, and iTunes is massively successful. We've watched as the record labels pressured Apple for variable pricing year after year, trying to re-assert control over their music. They finally got it. The labels don't like all the power that Apple has, so here's my theory: they're making it very hard, if not impossible, for the Zune guys to get the same sort of deal that Apple has. They're trying to exert control over the Zune deal in a way they wish they could have done with the Apple deal years ago.
Witness the $1 that Universal demanded Microsoft pay them for every Zune sold. We're talking POWER STRUGGLE here people. Maybe that's one reason why Microsoft can't accomplish now what Apple did years ago - the record labels are more aware of what they want to control.
Second reason? Maybe Microsoft feels that the Zune Pass is SO important that they can't/won't launch Zune Marketplace without it. It's quite integral to the Zune experience - many new Zune features rely on the customer having a Zune Pass - so maybe Microsoft isn't launching in new markets unless that market includes the Zune Pass. I think this is a bit silly - not everyone wants a Zune Pass - but maybe it's another reason? These are just my theories." Read more...