Could customer support be Zune's biggest selling point?

Summary:What does Microsoft need to do to show it's able to think like a consumer-electronics company, not just a computer-software one? Are you expecting Microsoft follow its usual pattern and finally get the Zune right by the time it ships Version 3?

Whether yesterday's Zune 2 announcement left you hopeful or underwhelmed, you've got to give Microsoft some credit for taking care of its first-generation Zune customers.

Could customer support be Zune’s biggest selling point?
Microsoft is back-porting to its first-generation Zunes all of the new software features it announced for the Zunes coming out in November.

Just like Apple did with its new line of iPods ... Not.

David Morgenstern, one of my ZDNet blogging colleagues with whom I was discussing Microsoft's attempt to take on the iPod said: "So you mean Microsoft is trying to bring a computer-software experience to a consumer-electronics device?" He thought that was a bad idea. Microsoft is trying to shoehorn a PC-centric mentality into a consumer device. Not a good fit....

My take: Yes, if you are Apple (or Microsoft), giving users of older model players access to the new features delivered with new iPod models doesn't make good business sense. You are trying to get folks to shell out more money for new players, not encourage them that their existing players can last a while longer.

Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff was non-plussed by the new Zunes.

"Overall, I think the devices are what Microsoft should have launched with last year. Given the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iTunes Wi-Fi store, they look like they're a full generation behind. I think they'll be non-competitive this year," Rosoff said.

Microsoft has nowhere to go but up, with Zunes. It so far hasn't demonstrated any prowess at outwitting Apple on the design or feature fronts. But might it score points by providing stellar customer support/service -- something Apple has been criticized for not doing with the iPhones and new iPods?

What does Microsoft need to do to show it's able to think like a consumer-electronics company, not just a computer-software one? Are you expecting Microsoft follow its usual pattern and finally get the Zune right by the time it ships Version 3?

(Disclosure, in case anyone was wondering:  I am neither an iPod nor a Zune customer.) 

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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