Microsoft isn’t doing too well these days when it comes to consumer electronics. Competitors have been attacking the software giant on all fronts, from desktops to laptops to smartphones. What’s more, Apple has managed to make tablets a widely-accepted new product category, something Microsoft was attempting to do for several years.
But there’s one area where Microsoft has been performing unusually well: Bing. The company has been extremely aggressive marketing Bing to the masses, with tons of TV ads, internet ads and huge sponsorship deals. The search engine is already eating into Google’s dominance in the market, and with the integration of Bing into Windows Phone we can only imagine those numbers improving. Microsoft isn’t just sticking to Windows Phone for their mobile takeover; they’ve already released excellent apps for iPhones and Android, iPads, and recently they announced a deep partnership with RIM’s future line of BlackBerrys.
There’s just one question in the back of our mind that has become louder and louder with Bing’s increasing presence: why the heck isn’t Microsoft doing this with Zune?
Microsoft has very slowly built up credibility behind the brand since its first device launched in 2006, and one would think that right now is the perfect time to capitalize on it. Microsoft seems to be quite invested in Zune too: besides the Zune HD’s lasting love in the tech community, the company also just added Zune support to the Xbox 360, and as you probably already know Zune services are a fundamental part of Windows Phone’s multimedia experience. There’s also been a level of acceptance from consumers Zune has found that not many other digital media stores have experienced. That’s largely due to their killer Zune Pass payment model, which several people have found to be a much more affordable alternative to iTunes and Amazon MP3.
Clearly Microsoft wants to see Zune succeed, but at the same time it appears the company is completely content seeing Zune stay the same. One issue worth noting is that Microsoft hasn’t changed much of the core experience since the launch of the Zune HD, while Apple on the other hand is constantly trying to improve the service and its features. However, the biggest factor holding Zune back is the fact that it’s trying to be like Apple: Zune doesn’t support outside (non-Microsoft) ecosystems. Unlike Bing, you can’t find a Zune app for iOS, Android or BlackBerry and one just has to wonder why. Even the full client of iTunes supports desktop Windows, and yet Microsoft only supports Mac for Windows Phone owners in the form of a feature-devoid ‘Connector’ application.
Why does Microsoft need to support other platforms? The answer is simple: Zune is losing. If Microsoft truly wants to see Zune succeed in such a competitive market, it’s impossible for them to be absent on other platforms. Even if Microsoft just released a Zune app for other platforms with only Zune Pass support, that would be enough to get more people to use it outside of Microsoft’s ecosystem. With the added exposure to Zune and Zune Pass, people would be more likely to buy the devices with better integration i.e. Windows Phone and dedicated Zune players. In our opinion, Zune needs to get Bing’d.