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New Microsoft ad pits Zune Pass vs. Apple iTunes

The price point strategy that Microsoft has been pushing in its Laptop Hunters ads is moving into the downloadable arena with a new commercial touting that the $15 monthly price of Microsoft's Zune Pass service is far more palatable than a potential $30,000 in iTunes fees for the same 30,000 songs.Oh boy, here we go.
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Written by Andrew Nusca on

The price point strategy that Microsoft has been pushing in its Laptop Hunters ads is moving into the downloadable arena with a new commercial touting that the $15 monthly price of Microsoft's Zune Pass service is far more palatable than a potential $30,000 in iTunes fees for the same 30,000 songs.

Oh boy, here we go.

Not quite calling it an "Apple Tax," Microsoft is trying to sell Zune Pass as a more sensible way to listen to music: pay a little bit, get a lifetime's worth of songs; versus pay (sort of) a little bit, get one song.

Here's the ad:

The ad comes just as rumors build that the ZuneHD could arrive as early as June.

Why $30,000? (A fairly arbitrary number on the face of it, isn't it?) Since the 120GB Apple iPod appears in the ad, it's roughly the amount of songs that device holds.

But the argument is a heated one: is it fair to compare 30,000 songs for one month for $15 to $30,000 for the same songs for your lifetime? Do the math. Ars Technica did, and found that it would take you more than 166 years to come out at $30K on Zune Pass.

There's a potential snag in the operation, though. Ars outlines it:

As of November 2008, the Zune Pass allows its users to keep any 10 songs per month. In other words, if you wanted 30,000 songs for keeps, just like the iTunes Store, you would have to wait 250 years. The cost would be a whopping $45,000, however. In other words, it's only really worth it if you're OK with the fact that you have to keep paying the monthly fee to keep access to the songs that you don't yet own. Otherwise, iTunes (or any other à la carte model) is the way to go.

If you're an avid consumer of new music, the Zune Pass service is tempting. But if you only plan on purchasing 15 songs per month -- that's about an album and a few Top 10 hits each month -- you're being ripped off.

Where's the tipping point? Depends on how much "value" you put in a permanent iTunes license versus a Zune Pass monthly license.

But people like "owning" their own media, and do we really need another subscription and monthly bill in our lives? I wonder.

In the ad the narrator says, "People worry about the capacity of their iPod. What about the capacity of their bank account?" With Zune Pass, it's possible that each month I'll wonder the same thing.

Perhaps I'll be too busy listening to music to notice.

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