Zune = Anything But iPod?

zune abi Zune = Anything But iPod?

New York Times recently ran an article suggesting that Zune users buy the Zune because they don’t want an iPod. The Slate suggests that NYT is calling this “anti-branding” a more extreme version of “counter-branding.” Basically this method of marketing positions your product opposite your competitor’s product.

This technique is used quite a bit; for instance 7-Up openly calls itself “the uncola,” marketing it as an alternative to colas. Business Week points out the more recent example of “Mamma Mia!” as the alternate choice to the blockbuster “Batman: The Dark Knight” for people who didn’t buy into the hype or just had no interest in seeing what everyone else wanted to see.

Is Microsoft positioning the Zune as the anti-iPod, and are people buying Zunes because they’re not iPods?

On some level, the marketing appeal was to have people who owned the iPod feel part of a unique group; however it’s popularity made it’s ownership so widespread that the iPod passed its peak of “coolness.” While still viewed as cool by many, others didn’t want to be part of the crowd, but still wanted to have a sense of identity.

Zune took the opposite approach conveying the message that music, unlike the iPod itself, wasn’t a mass market product, but rather a social connection within a group of friends and, at the same time, a very individual thing. The Zune was actively using counter-branding in order to differentiate itself from the iPod, but is this a more extreme anti-branding?

Anti-branding would be need to be more of a direct attack and I have yet to see even a subtle jab from Zune’s corner. I see their campaign as coy or almost apathetic- kind of like “Hey, we’re just hanging out listening to music and enjoying life. Oh this thing? It’s a Zune. Never mind that, you can check it out later. Let’s go break dance first.” Initial campaigns barely showed off the capabilities of the device. I can hardly call this an anti-iPod or an anythingbutipod message.

By contrast Apple is a bit more forceful and manipulative conveying the message that “If you don’t own an iPod you’re not part of the cool crowd.” But this still isn’t anti-branding, and Apple doesn’t need to anti-brand since they hold the majority share and are not even close to being an underdog.

Think Differently?

They are, however, an underdog elsewhere and do actively anti-brand in the OS market. Who hasn’t seen a Mac vs PC ad? This is a textbook classic anti-branding marketing technique called FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. This campaign has been working extremely well as Apple manipulates consumers’ own words. How many times have you heard someone say “Vista Sucks” when they haven’t even used Vista? The Mojave Experiment is great proof of how well Apple marketing has brainwashed the general public. Apple’ marketing message is often: buy a Mac because it is anythingbutvista.


Microsoft is not using an anti-branding message, and they are not luring customers into the Zune because the Zune is AnythingButiPod. Anti-branding doesn’t work for MP3 manufactures – just ask SanDisk. When SanDisk launched the Sansa e200 series player they directly attacked the iPod with the iDont campaign. It featured blatant anti-branding, calling iPod users iSheep. I personally thought it was fantastic drumming up attention, whether it was good or bad. But I don’t think SanDisk found it effective since it was pulled shortly after and the iDont.com site ceased to even redirect to SanDisk’s site.

Buying an Anythingbutipod

There will always be a number of consumers purchasing a product because it’s not another product, especially when that other product is popular without active counter- or anti-branding. As I have shown you, Microsoft is not using anti-branding, but are people buying the Zune because it’s not an iPod? Absolutely! And I have proof.

Every month 1,500 people enter this site though the search term “ipod alternatives” showing that finding an alternative to the popular iPod is indeed in the minds of some consumers. These people are buying Zunes and other players because they are not iPods. That mentality does indeed exist, but is this is only one of many reasons people buy a Zune or any other anythingbutipod for that matter.

The New York Times article states that the director of Zune brand marketing, Robert Schaltenbrand, claims people are buying the Zune because it’s a better product, and I honestly believe that myself. Okay, okay, he is in charge of the Zune and I started a site called anythingbutipod, so some may see a conflict of interest, but when features are compared, you cannot doubt that the Zune can do much more.

The rivalry will go on and the Zune’s marketshare will steadily increase, but will it increase to the point where an anythingbutzune mentality is created? Time will tell, but it is certain that when a company can create an organic “anythingbut…” attitude, it is a mark of success.


Jim on August 16, 2008 1:18 PM

‘Tis exactly why I bought a Sansa E200 series – it wasn’t Ipod, cost less, more features, & to me sounded better. Then I wanted more space, tried both 80 GBs, and liked the Zune better – interface, features, sound. I’ve always been anti-Ipod, not because it’s a bad player, but overhyped, overpriced, & for awhile everything you saw was “I-this” and “I-that”, got tired of it.

mwells on August 16, 2008 2:12 PM

I bought my Zune because my sansa wasn’t getting the job done(too small for videos) and the fact that it wasn’t an iPod, so yeah, I guess so. People who buy iPods always irk me to no end, and I hate iTunes, so i just couldn’t become a part of that.I wouldn’t have bought the Zune if it weren’t, in my eyes, a better alternative though.

Jeffrey T. Meyer on August 16, 2008 3:16 PM

Bought the Zune for the all-you-can-eat subscription service. That is all.

Richard on August 16, 2008 3:32 PM

No, I have a 80gb zune and being “counter culture” didn’t even appear in my mind. The main reason why i bought the zune was because it had the biggest screen for that amount of space for a REALLY good price. I could have gotten a Itouch instead and saved $50 but what would be the point if i only had like 8gbs of space.

Ed Grant on August 16, 2008 3:34 PM

I bought a Zune because of its features (like FM, Wireless Sync, Non-DRM and all-you-can-download-subscription) and the way the Zune software easily managed my more than 197 podcast subscriptions.

Chepe Centro on August 16, 2008 3:43 PM

I’ve always disliked iPod because:- Propietary iTunes software- Limited format support- No radio- No voice recording- I don’t trust micro hard drives- Flash-based iPods are too expensive (compared to similar or higher capacity alternatives)I will always buy and use ANYTHING BUT IPOD!

Jon on August 16, 2008 4:46 PM

I don’t buy ipods not because of their success but because the alternatives not-locked in to a proprietary software and provides better sound quality for less money.It amazes me that Sony gets a lot of flak for SonicStage by the mainstream media when Apple is despite locking their player to itunes. The mind boggles.

Nodspy on August 16, 2008 5:22 PM

I bought my zune 80 because its just a really nice player. I don’t like ipods or itunes ether but the zune is very lovable. Same reason I bought a sansa clip(that and it was so cheap). Zune support is top notch too, I needed a repair and they where quite good. Wish they would make a 16gb flash zune, I would buy it immediately.

Len on August 16, 2008 6:12 PM

So tired of uninformed consumers who think Apple is the gold standard. When they are really just “buying” into Apple’s slick but untruthful advertising.Most Apple products offer less for more jut in a shiny package.

Jimmy on August 16, 2008 11:14 PM

Truly, from the beginning, I never saw the interest in the iPod market, no matter what they produced. As others have said, it is over-hyped, over priced, and just over i-everything!What really pisses me off is the lack of anything but iPod accessories. You have to order online, or you get very limited selection in any store. Get with it sellers, there are other players out there!I still don’t see how anyone would even try to watch a movie on anything but a large screen model player. I have an E280 with an 8GB MicroSD for a total of 16GB. What insane person needs more than that? You certainly wouldn’t store movies on it? I would think that the majority of users would use it for mainly audio otherwise they would have to plug in every few hours for recharging.16GB or a 32GB flash player is for me. I am strictly an audio person. No movies on my player.

Joe Edwards on August 17, 2008 12:43 AM

I have owned iPods, off and on, long before they became ubiquitous, but I have also owned a Zune 30, 80 and 8. In every case I have returned the Zunes and kept the iPods….for two reasons only.1. iTunes Japan allows me to buy Jpop cheaper online than importing the music. This way I can check out new bands before I drop a load of cash on an import CD if it is a MUST HAVE.2. MS absolutely WILL NOT provide unicode support on the Zune. Therefore all my Japanese, Korean and Chinese titled songs show up as little boxes that taunted me endlessly.I prefer the Zune hardware as well as the larger screen and beter sound quality, but that means little when 90 percent of your songs are titled with little boxes…and NO I am NOT goint to romanize all of the titles. Heck, I cannot do Chinese at all!!!!MS if you would add unicode today I would run out and buy a new Zune 80 and sell my iPod Video 80GB in a heartbeat.sigh

Richard A on August 17, 2008 12:53 AM

Apple has always had very good advertising, and the iPod has always had a coolness factor to it that appeals to a broad category of consumers. That, combined with a simple interface, and easy integration with a product like iTunes, made the iPod super popular, even when other superior, and less expensive, products were available. My first MP3 player, a Rio S50, still works, and the sound is still better than the sound I get from my 8 GB Nano. My iAudio X5 accepts more formats that the iPod, has an FM radio, and superior sound. My Creative Zen V Plus is small, has an easy to use interface, and produces great sound, yet none of these MP3 players sold or will sell anything near the iPod. Why? The American public is gullible, not tech savvy, and iTunes is simple to use. I have a Nano (it was given to me) and they are fun to use, but they are toys when compared to the best of what iRiver, Creative, or iAudio are producing.

Larry Harrison on August 17, 2008 3:09 AM

I bought my SanDisk Sansa e280 about a month ago, and love it. Frankly I don’t see why relatively few people buy this thing. You can drag-drop files in Windows Explorer–no need for brand-specific software, it’s logical and easy to use, sounds good, and has user-replaceable batteries. (It annoys me to know that the modern version of this model, the Sansa View, does not have user-replaceable batteries.)People like to say “who wants to tote batteries around,” that’s not the point; the point is, why seal up the battery to begin with? There’s nothing to be gained from that, and plenty to be lost.More to the point, how many phones (other than the iPhone) seal up the battery? How many digital cameras do this, how many remote controls, how many child’s toys? Most flashlights don’t either, and heck even my $3 Family Dollar watch will let the owner replace the battery if they wish to do so. About the only thing I recall that sealed up the batteries were those Black & Decker rechargeable “Spotlighter” flashlights years ago, and they were cheap anyway–and good luck finding one now.I really do think that people buy iPods just because they don’t know there are other options, or because they are so concerned about “hipness.” Who cares what it looks like? It’s not an artistic painting or photograph or a woman in a black dress.

James Forelo on August 17, 2008 4:53 AM

Ah yes the Mojave Experiment. It has its problems, like Vista, but sure makes the general American public (those who bought into hate-Vista-but didn’t-use hype) look like total tools for Apple.The biggest issue was that it was released at a time when most computers simply couldn’t run it easily. Despite what they’ve done to improve it, Vista does have that reputation that’s probably not going away, and will be overshadowed by Windows 7.Still, it’s better than buying into Apple. Why am I going to get OSX when it’s basically a proprietary Linux that’s overpriced for its features and functions.

nargarack on August 17, 2008 12:55 PM

I don’t like ipod because of iTunes, the only thing i like is the “iPod wheel”I prefer new lines of Sony Players, with excellent audio and excellent earbuds.And personally, i don’t need 80GB for my music.Microsoft is a company like Apple, they only want to sell and sell, lock the music into the player, and made tons of accesories for their players.Also Zune interface is not good for me.

Blade on August 17, 2008 4:57 PM

I tried the ipods. Never impressed with the hardware they have. Cm’on, they still have 64k color screens, no wallpaper option, and no custom equalizer. That is why I have a ZEN. Basically, it’s more “bang for the buck”. To all these years watching the ipods, I have rarely seen any of them with a lowerd price for their capacity ratings. True, why make so much accessories for a lousy piece of hardware. All other DAP/PMP’s are left behind, out of the spotlight and forgotten.

Brad L. Wooldridge on August 17, 2008 5:16 PM

If you saw “Mammia Mia,” just because you didn’t buy into “The Dark Knight’s” hype, then I truly feel sorry for you…:PA 4GB Clip is half the price as a 4GB Nano, so the choice for me was clear. But, as soon as I listened to my Clip, I knew I’d made the right choice.

Steve on August 17, 2008 6:14 PM

Count me among the anything but with the Samsung P2 (of course, it’s superior to the i-touch). However, as Jimmy mentioned, there are nearly zero accessories for many of the non-ipods. To date, I have a car-charger, and a screen shield. That’s it. :(

antitrust311 on August 18, 2008 1:17 AM

The reason people choose ipods over all the other players is the same reason that I chose an iPod and iTunes. Tight knit integration between player and software and excellent hardware design. I previously owned Sansa e280, Creative Zen, iRiver clix 2, Cowon A2, Zune 80, and Rio mp3 players and none of them had this. The vast majority of people want a product that just works with the least amount of hassle, which none of these brands offers. All these players offer varying degrees of substandard toy like build quality, terrible U/I design, poor audio quality(except the Zen), poor battery life and terrible integration with audio management software. There are a few individual mp3 players that superpass iPods on audio qaulity but that’s about it. On the subject of more features. Who are you people kidding? No one listens to FM radio anymore and I know absolutely no one that makes voice recordings with their mp3 player??!!! User replaceable batteries???!!! Windows File explorer are you serious???!!! I work in the IT field and the vast majority of people can barely use their web browser and Microsoft office let alone drag and drop files on an mp3 player in a logical manner!!!

Tom Wong on August 18, 2008 1:21 AM

I have been on the “Anythingbutipod” side regarding DAP’s for the past couple years. I have found that all apple ipods with the click wheel and the shuffle were horrible overpriced players. However, when the ipod touch came out Apple reversed my critical views toward them. This Ipod is truly phenomenal, with a touch screen and most importantly wi-fi. I can even stream internet radio for free while browsing the web! True, it does have a 300 dollar price tag but don’t see any Samsung( my former favorite DAP company) player doing that!

RedSky on August 18, 2008 8:00 AM

@antitrust311You’re presuming a lot there.Using explorer to drag and drop files is something that should make sense to anyone who’s minimally computer literate, you’re virtually forced to learn how to use it when you install any version of Windows. iTunes may be convenient for various other reasons to some people but ultimately it’s there to hook you into Apple’s online marketplace, otherwise it obviously wouldn’t be compulsory by default.Replaceable batteries have niche appeal for those who want to stick to a player for a long period of time. I have no idea what the cost is to get an older iPod’s battery replaced outside of warranty, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than buying a spare battery off eBay for whatever your player is, and DIY installing it.Plenty of people use voice recording to record lectures.I’m certain plenty of people use FM radio, that goes without saying. Maybe not in your country/city.Also, kind of surprised you would say that the Zen has good audio quality of all that players you have tried, I didn’t find that true at all when I had it but that’s subjective.iPods aren’t bad of course, I certainly agree a lot of it has to do with what the article is arguing. They do have good power output, perform well enough with high impedance phones, but they lack in sound customisation, bass output and the ability to use it from explorer, which is what holds me back personally. Plus the size/capacity of their players doesn’t really do it for me. I mean, I have no use for 80 or 160GB of space for music, whereas what the iPhone offers is far too meagre. On the other hand their flash offerings don’t have expansion slots which make them too small to fit my collection.

Matt on August 18, 2008 9:18 AM

I bought a Zune 80 for the wi-fi sync, great software features, great podcast and album management and the online community/song tracking. I would never even think about buying an ipod or mac product, so there might be a little anti apple in me. I also have an xbox360 and wii. I’m hoping they tie together the xbox360 and zune ecosystems this fall.

Andy Pastuszak on August 18, 2008 9:37 AM

I own and iPod and a Sansa e200. I didn’t like the Sansa UI at all till I put Rockbox on it. Now I think I may like the Sansa better than the iPod.I personally don’t have an issue with iTunes, but it’s no different on the other end. You can ONLY use a Zune with the Zune software, and other players that are MTP based can ONLY be used with WMP or whatever proprietary software they come with. There are only a few true drag and drop players out there.The iPod’s big plus for me is support for Audiobooks and the ability to makes the iPod remember the playback position of any track, MP3 OR M4B. Very few players support bookmarking or playback position of standard MP3s. They only do it on Audible AA files.Rockbox’s big plus for me is drag and drop support, and support for every conceivable file format under the sun. But Rockbox is a less than stellar experience on the iPod, mostly due to battery life. That’s why I bought the Sansa.

Jason on August 18, 2008 12:34 PM

I really enjoyed reading this article. It points out a lot of the marketing strategies and “perceptions” people have about Apple products (not only the iPod). I’ve personally always found it a tad funny how the current generation feels like Apple is the “good” guys that care about their customers and are so “user friendly”. Obviously they haven’t read their tech history. I agree that the Zune has done nothing wrong in this situation and has used no sort of aggressive marketing. On the other hand people seem to just look the other way to the PC vs. Mac commercials, which I find are filled with lies, misinformation, and basically slander. I gave up trying to explain it to people a few years ago though. Some people will never care to read history or the facts and be feed what makes them feel good about their choices. Anyway, loved the article. lol

Chris on August 18, 2008 6:52 PM

I use FM radio at times in the gym to listen to the TV feeds they have there. Since a lot of people at the gym have ipods I don’t really understand why they don’t include FM radio on them. I don’t think it would really increase the price any. I know you can buy an adapter to plug into it to get FM radio, but that is just one more thing to buy and add bulk to the player. That and I didn’t really like the interface are the only reasons I didn’t buy and ipod.

antitrust311 on August 18, 2008 7:29 PM

@redskyI am presuming nothing, between my friends, family and co-workers I find most people are computer illiterate and they would find dragging and dropping too complicated for them or to much of a hassle. Niche appeal is right and that is why Most mp3 players don’t have user replaceable batteries. Because the average user doesn’t need or want this feature. If I need to record a lecture I use a dedicated voice recorder that has a decent mic. I have had many a mp3 player that has a voice recorder and they all sound terrible. I live in Japan and no one listens to the radio here. I also lived in the USA for 24 years before living here and I don’t know anyone that listens to radio anymore. Listening to the same 12 songs over and over and over again all day gets really old fast.Zune Marketplace is there to hook you into their online marketplace as are all the other online services. It all comes down to which you prefer I guess. For me it’s iTunes. I had a Zune 80Gb for 90 days and it was terrible. OS would lock up on me daily, podcasts never downloaded correctly. Zune marketplace U/I is terrible looking and clunky. I liked the U/I on the Zune and would have kept it if 1. it didn’t feel like a toy, 2. The OS on the Zune wouldn’t lock up and crash on me repeatedly each day, 3. Zune marketplace software didn’t suck so badly.@ Chris,I would have to agree, this is one area that it would be nice to have an FM receiver for. I hate seeing a breaking news story at the gym and having no idea what they are saying! Other than that I have found it incredibly difficult to even pick up a station, let alone get reception long enough listen to the radio on any mp3 player that I have owned.

joe on August 19, 2008 1:30 AM

A Cowon player that has poor audio quality? Right.I wouldn’t buy a zune for the same reason I wouldn’t buy an ipod: Both are made by sucky companies. One ties to itunes and the other to the Zune marketplace.How stupid can you be to make a player not even compatible with your own branded “Plays For Sure” WMA DRM format?The ipod is great for people who don’t know how to rip their own music, or pic the right format or right bitrate for good sound, or who don’t even care if it sounds like a 128kbps zing encoded mp3. I do like the UI, the wheel on it, and agree that it sounds good enough for the average person. And the form factor as Apple puts it is dressed to impress.If apple took their head out of their ass and supported ogg/vorbis, I’d buy one. It is not as if it competes with them; it doesn’t cost them anything to license; the tremor decoder used to decode the music on ARM chips is already made for them. The aac format is just mpeg4 audio; it is not an apple format. Besides, vorbis beats the LC version of aac anyday. But, since apple is apple, they don’t care, and why should they? 150 million ipods sold without vorbis support.Maybe if all the other brands advertised at every time of the day and made their player look trendy, they too could fool some masses into buying them. Personally, buying an mp3 player on the fact that some CGI stupid silhouettes dancing around in ways no real person could is retarded.Btw, Cowon used the iAUDIO trademark in 2000, before Apple used the trademark ipod from another person, so don’t think that just due to popularity Cowon copied apple with the “i” stuff.

Aswin on August 19, 2008 2:30 AM

I am tired of this zune versus Ipod crap.(1)Both are locked into proprietary software.(2)both have average battery life(sony nwz or d2 i hear anyone say??)(3)Both don have best SQ(zune is better than ipod but only by a small margin)(4)Equalizer is a crap in both(purists can go hang urself. All of us dont own a 500$ cans or IEMs and eq goes a great way in solving the problems.)(5)don bash ipod just coz the site says so. Zune is equally bad and notorious.social?? sharing?? Please tell me how many of u ever even use t?wifi is nothing but a drain on battery.I don live in US but it is a big joke to go to a wifi spot to listen to free internet radio. i can do it from my pc only.CONCLUSION:I have a ipod 30 gb and zune 30gb.was a great fun initially using both but once the novelty wears off u begin to see the true colours. Ipod sucks: no drag and drop, average battery, over hyped,useless EQ,click wheel is useless for a 30gb collection,Average SQ(Not bad by any standards)Zune sucks: bigger than a brick not at all sleek,below average battery,No drag drop,NO Eq in 80 gb and a useless EQ in 30gb,Have to upgrade constantly,Bad radio reception(sony is exceptional).i currently own a NWZ A728 sony player and why it rocks:(1)Drag Drop Supported.(2)Brillliant EQ and a host of cool audio filters(i don use them except clear bass but many can find use to it).(3)Superb customizable eq.(4)36 hrs of audio and 10 hrs video.(5)Great UI and awesome screen.(6)Great SQ even with included ear buds and Completely blows away competition with my Ultimate Ears.Ipod and Zune cant even hold a candle to these Sony boys in sound quality.(7)Its small sleek and really light weight. Hold one u will know the difference.Made my ipod totting friends jealous when i pulled something so sleek and sexy off my pocket.

antitrust311 on August 19, 2008 6:26 AM

@Joe,I work with RF testing equipment on a daily basis and I know how to test audio quality. I am not basing what I say on something subjective like what my ears hear. You said it best iPod’s are best for the general masses. Apple or Microsoft or the other major players don’t care about making mp3 players for audiophiles. There aren’t enough out there to justify creating an mp3 player for these types. I have spent years testing many of the major mp3 players out there and have found the iPod to be what suits me best.@AswinI agree the new Sony Walkmans are amazing. I almost bought one except I can’t get over that terrible U/I.I come to this site in the hopes that there will be a player that bests the ipod, zune, creative, cowon, iRiver, etc… I wish someone would build a player with Cowon audio quality, iRiver audio format support, Apple build quality and Apple U/I design. Then the iPod would have a true competitor!! Because competition is always good!!!!

Aswin on August 19, 2008 12:38 PM

@antitrust311Nice to have a sensible reply other than a rabid fan boy.as long as ipod is tied down to itunes i am sorry to say they are restricting user freedom. Wat the **** Steve jobs cares if i use Itunes or not. If the software is so good let people choose.Not shove it down their throat. A lot of people find it a [pain to sync and stuff.(its not anythin techie funda but a plain pain in ass)AS for audio quality i know a thing or two abt as i am electronics & communication major.The SQ depends mainly on(1)dynamic range:the ratio of the loudest possible undistorted sound to the quietest or to the noise level, say of a microphone or loudspeaker. The soft flute tone or the scrapping of the heels which you dont hear in an ipod u hear in d2 or sony.(2)total harmonic distortion (THD):they are a measure of the unwanted altering of the original signals.I would say ipod and d2 are very good in this. NO unwanted noise generated by the player.sony generates some with low quality files

Jim T on August 19, 2008 3:03 PM

Many people listen to FM radio. Unless your MP3 player has own every song in every genre you like, FM radio will have a song you do not own, have not heard in awhile, and you would enjoy listening to it for a change.The local NFL team’s games are broadcast on FM along with a hour long pre-show, and at least a two hour post-show. I may watch the game on TV, but enjoy listening to the post-game show on radio while I am out. I have a SanDisk Clip that has excellent FM radio, and also records FM radio which is convenient for recording the portions of the post-game show when you can not listen live. I also enjoy FM Talk radio.I own a Zune 30, and 80 which have nice built in FM radios as well. UI preference is certainly s personal thing; I do like the Zune interface, and touch control better than the iPod’s clickwheel. I have extensive experience using both.As for the voice recording, I frequently use the Clip’s VR to record a model number of an item I am checking out at the local big box store, or other short information snip. The VR is more convenient than looking for a paper/pen, or using notepad in Smartphone.Concerning the iPod’s phenomenal success – I believe a large portion of the success was due to an excellent marketing campaign by Apple. During the explosive growth period for the iPod, Boston’s subway stations were plastered with iPod ads, the trolleys were plastered with iPod ads, you would see 4 or more billboard ads for iPods on the way home, and then see several iPod ads on network TV that evening. IPod’s became the only MP3 player in the minds of many due to the saturation marketing campaign. Unfortunately, the competitors were not advertising to any extent. The iPod ads featuring the dancing silhouettes with white earbuds sold “being cool”, and never mentioned features etc. Apple is doing the same thing with the iPhone. I see at least 2 iPhone ads on network TV each night, sometimes multiple ads in the same program vs. very few ads from competitors. I also pass several lighted kiosk ads for iPhones on the way home from downtown. When are the competitors going to learn the value of slick advertising?

Paul on August 19, 2008 3:37 PM

i was given an iPoo for christmas and sold it on ebay to get a Zune.

Paul on August 19, 2008 3:40 PM

People who don’t know how to rip music must be stupid.

joe on August 19, 2008 5:36 PM

Well anti trust, if you agree, then why did you say “poor audio quality (except the zen)” when you had an A2?Again, I do like the ipod for somethings, but, I would be more apt to getting an ipple (sic) product if they didn’t advertise so damn much, especially the crap they spew with Vista, and again, vorbis support.Cowon anyhow has good file support just like the iriver, save for their stupid low precision tremor vorbis decoder on some of their stuff. They fixed that on the D2. That and while it is no touch wheel, I can tolerate the D2′s interface.

antitrust311 on August 19, 2008 7:51 PM

@Aswin,Again for me it is the combination of simple intuitive U/I, software integration, build quality and pocketability. I have found the iPod to be the best for these. I don’t use the EQ and I am willing to bet most people don’t either. I also refuse to spend over $100 on headphones or earbuds and sound quality is subjective. To my ears the Cowon A2 sounded the best but that thing was not pocketable and I found the D2 was to small I tried using my Cowon A2, to and from work on the train here in Japan. It was way to bulky. I like the Sony 728 but that U/I has terrible colors and I can’t get over that. My last thought on what you said is you only get “Tied” into iTunes/Zune marketplace if you purchase a lot of music through these sites and don’t remove the DRM. I purchase about 4 albums a month on iTunes(Because CD’s can cost 3000Yen and albums in iTunes are $9.99) and the first thing I do is convert the DRM protected tracks to DRM free tracks.@JoeThe Creative had better frequency response than A2 so yes the Creative beat the A2. I don’t live in America, don’t watch tv and have seen maybe 5 ipod ads in the 3 years that I have had an iPod. I base my choice of anything on thorough and consice reviews of products. Not on rabid fanboyism or advertising. As I said before I have owned most of the players that are recommended as alternatives to the ipod and I always end up with my ipod back in my pocket.

Nephersir7 on August 19, 2008 7:55 PM

For me, A ZUNE IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS AN IPOD, BUT FROM MICROSOFT, which easily makes it as bad as its “rival” and possibly even worse.

Aswin on August 20, 2008 7:28 AM

@antitrust311being tied i meant that u r forced to use itunes or zune software. u cant use ur own media player like say winamp or real player. In india Most albums are cheap(LEGAl stuff only i am talkin abt) and i don use Itunes.i get most of my electronics from Us or Singapore thru my friends. So no its not purchasing from itunes. Its just using itunes itself a forced shove down customers throat. Sony learnt it with sonic stage(though itunes is a million times better)but still its just devil in a different dress.steve jobs wont take 400$ from me and tell me how to load the player with my songs. This is customer exploitation of highest order which is being hidden in a smoke screen of hype, publicity and advertisements.For music players with video usage in small amounts sony and cowon d2 would be gr8. for video and touch screen best alternative is samsung P2.hard drive players are on their way out of market if u r willing to spend 250$ on a dying technology(in mp3 market tat is) go ahead no one is stopping u.

humanerror on August 20, 2008 2:50 PM

The point might be that the Ipod has manipulated peoples minds that it’s “the audio(or video) player” for everyone. Although it is not and there are options suitable to some people who have special needs or even want better value.

w00ty on August 21, 2008 6:51 AM

Zune isn’t exactly too hard trying to compete with the iPod, if they were, they’d start sell the damn players overseas, instead of confining it to one continent. Been waiting so long for it to head to Australia. Just gave up and got a P2.

busterjonez on August 21, 2008 7:04 PM

I bought a 4th gen ipod basically the day it came out. I was immediately pissed that I was forced to use iTunes to sort all my music and I was unable to import my .m3u playlists that I was using with winamp. Unfortunately, there were pretty much no other options at the time.Still, it was magic to be able to carry around 20GB of music at the time, and I never regretted the purchase. However, when the battery gave up the ghost, I immediately resolved to never buy another iPod.I got a 4GB Meizu player (M6) and was stoked to get away from the Apple monster.Everything is better away from Apple. Built-in radio, voice recorder. File Folder browsing. *No iTunes* required. Standard mini-USB plug. The sound quality improvement alone floored me, and I am definately no audiophile.I have no real love for the Zune, but I do think they are very attractively designed. Personally, I will never buy another player that forces me to use software to manage my music.The only reason that Apple continues to sell so many ipods is ironcially the same reason Microsoft still sells so much Windows software. First into the marketplace counts for a lot…

Francesco on August 22, 2008 10:32 AM

If somebody comes in here searching for iPod alternatives and ends up buying a Zune, I’d say they going from bad to worse. They’re ditching a closed system for a very slightly less closed system, while losing storage space and the option to rockbox the player.And for the sake of exactness, the Mojave experiment is bull****, really. The “experiment”‘s subjects were only shown demos running on an high end pc, and were not allowed to interact with the system. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that’s a valid, scientific experiment.Poor fools, don’t you know that it’s Microsoft which invented FUD?

Francesco on August 22, 2008 11:11 AM

I’d like to add that this site, despite the name, doesn’t necessarily need to be biased.However, as of late, it’s becoming pointlessly anti-Apple and dangerously pro-Microsoft.

Dan on August 23, 2008 6:08 PM

I got a Zune 80 (upgrade from my Zen Vision M) for a couple reasons:1. I wasn’t going to get an iPod for a few reasons. First off I hate Apple’s naming scheme. I didn’t want to end up with an iPod I sync with iTunes on my iMac which sends movies I made on iMovie to my iTV. Secondly I’ve learned that if mass society gets overly excited about something that’s not that special (esp. in technology), run the other way. On top of that, the whole circle controls of the iPod are anything but intuitive to me. But then maybe it wasn’t built by people who are right brain dominate like me (or however that whole thing works). Finally, I’ve come to notice that retailers treat iPod buyers as iTards. Go to any retailers website and you’ll probably see something along the lines of “iPods and MP3 players.” What do they think iPods are? If I was an iPod owner, I’d probably find that a bit condescending.But then the Zune is such a great player. I use the wifi sharing and the FM tuner (though I wish it had AM since I love talk radio). I love the controls and the software for it. At first I was put off that I had to use the Zune software and couldn’t just use WMP. But I ended up falling in love with the software. The Zune social on zune.net is awesome. And on top of it, there are a load of accessories that I can use with my Zune.I guess it could be said I got the Zune because it is the anti-iPod. I didn’t get all the stuff I hated about the iPod but got everything I wanted. With my Zen there was a bit of iPod envy since there weren’t all the accessories that the iPod has. And there was that lack of recognition on the street. I hated answering the question “What’s that?” followed by them looking at me like I bought the ghetto/discount/generic iPod. With the Zune, none of that exists.

ruki kenishiro on August 24, 2008 2:49 AM

For me, if i have the money, i’d buy both the iPod and Zune, and/or the other MP3 player alternatives.It is just in the matter of personal preference and completely subjective.Though i do think that the “owning-an-iPod-makes-you-cool” mentality is just overhyped and overrated.

Korneel on August 25, 2008 5:35 PM

My first mp3-player was an iriver H10. I did doubt to buy an iPod mini at that time. And I doubted a lot. On paper the iriver h10 was the best player. But at that time it was the beginning of the Apple/iPod-hype in Europe and that was the reason why I also thought of buying an iPod. After some time I realised the iriver was better and that I just wanted that iPod mini to be a part of the group. I realised that was a bad argument to choose the mini. I said to myself that I just had to look at the specs. After that my decision was made easily and I bought the iriver h10. Now I have a Zune 30, I bought it because it could do everything the iPod Classic did with a much bigger screen, a FM-radio with RDS and the WiFi-functionality. I’m totally in the Zune story and I like the social-music-thing, so I think I’m going to stick with the Zune for awhile.

Grandpa Steve on September 8, 2008 10:06 AM

Runners need the Sansa Clip – a simple display, small , sounds good, and at a price that is not unbearable if it breaks.There is no iPod device that competes with the Sansa Clip.

TravisTech on September 9, 2008 2:07 PM

Maybe this is just me, but it all really depends on what platform you’re working from as it stands when you decide on a player. My first mp3 player was a sony walkman of some sort that utilized minidiscs, the forerunner to umds. From there I got a small Memorex player which eventually died as well. I was mp3-less for about a year, then I got an iPod nano 2 GB. The shiniest, best piece of tech at the moment, it quickly began to generate problems for me. My computer began to run slower and slower as the updates piled high, making iTunes a nuisance to navigate. My iPod spent more time hooked to my PC than in my hands. Then it began to crash. Freeze-ups, random power downs, the thing refused to sync with my system. I sold the sucker off and got myself a Sansa 2 GB e200. Fantastic interface, slick design, sturdy, and no issues at all. However, with a functional system, my music collection grew to where I had nowhere near enough room on my player. I traded the player of with a small stipend to balance it out for a Zune 30 GB. The software was easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and the device itself was ideal for an A/V enthusiast like myself. The impressive screen wowed me, and I had more than enough room for all of my media. Finally, I had a proper mp3 player. My girlfriend’s 2nd Gen shuffle went through a series of problems, then began to refuse to charge. She got the 80GB Zune and loves it for it’s ridiculous capacity and flexible U/I. Her friend also had an iPod that bricked, and she decided on the 8GB flash model, and adores it. More importantly to me, though, was that the Zune functions well with Vista and the XBox 360, which I had when I got the device. Functionality, sturdy design, and a respectable set of accessories available for the device have made it my favorite player thus far. I fully intend ton eventually handing the 30 off to my brother for the 160 model that’s forthcoming soon.

j noonan on September 14, 2008 8:43 PM

I came to your site due to headphone reviews. Nice site. My iPod touch blows the Zune’s features away. Not that the Zune (or any of the other players that you guys like) is a bad player.

alphagetti on September 21, 2008 12:49 AM

I only found this site because I was looking to compare other mp3′s to the iPod

Joe Edwards on September 24, 2008 7:13 PM

1. I bought a Zune 30 and returned it.2. I bought a Zune 80 and returned it.3. I bought another Zune 80 with firmware 3.0 and returned it.Why? Only ONE reason….NO UNICODE SUPPORT!!!!Every other competitor has unicode support, but MS won’t add it. I have over 4000 songs and 90% are in Japanese. There is no way I will retitle all of those songs!!!!If MS would add this one feature, I would sell my iPod and buy a Zune….and keep it!!!

djteka on October 1, 2008 5:11 PM

I never have never really wanted an iPod more than I do now, but only if there was the iPod “Classic” storage space (maybe that big 120Gb Zune I’ve heard about instead), with the iPod Touch features…I had a Phillips CD player, Expanium and whatnot, burned mp3 CDs for it, thought it was OK for a while. I soon got mad that it took forever to load all the songs before letting me listen to anything.I guess I made it apparent that I wanted an official Mp3 player, so for either a birthday or holiday, I got a SanDisk Sansa m230 (512MB [the blue one]), which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it worked good enough for the time being. Thing was, it ate single AAA batteries like it was at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and it needed a charged battery just to sync with my computer. So that was a bit annoying.I finally broke down and got a black Creative Zen Vision: M (30GB) and never looked back. (Well, actually, I didn’t “break down”, I just felt like I needed an upgrade, you know the feeling.)I have had it for past the 2-year Best Buy warranty, to about 2 1/2 to 3 year mark, still works great, even if it has to “rebuild” the HD when it locks up every few weeks or so. (Man, I LOVE that *Reset* pinhole!)Only thing I would like is a replacement screen or button set, the case was not good at not scuffing it, but I don’t really see it as a problem, just would be nice to have it be all shiny again.I am considering getting an XBox 360, a iPod Touch, or a Zune, more towards the former and the latter, not so much the middler. (I’m not so sure that is a word, hehe, pretty sure it isn’t…)Though I would miss my FM Radio, FM RECORDING (Yes, there are people who actually LIKE the morning radio shows. OH, and people who like recording songs off the radio, too.), the support for *most* major media formats (I hate you, .mp4, .mov, AC3 audio. I love you .DivX, .avi, .mp3, .ogg, .wma, .wmv, etc…)I don’t care if they got mad at some kid who cracked their Vista sound card codes, http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/03/silence-from-so.html , and everyone is supposed to hate them now, I feel that that, was the best $299 I have ever spent.If I ever get anything else that plays music, I’m pretty sure that I am NOT getting rid of this beautiful baby. (/endrantabouthowmuchilovemycreativezenvisionm)

Joe on October 1, 2008 6:46 PM

the Mojave Experiment commercial wasn’t even created by Apple, it was created by Microsoft to show how people that never used Vista before how good(microsoft)they think it is. so the Mojave Experiment commercial has nothing to do with Apple- know the facts before you assume something.

Greg on October 1, 2008 6:59 PM

@Andy Pastuszak and Aswin:Yes, it may be true that those softwares like Zune and Ipod are locked into their own software, but with whatever mp3 you have, your basically locked in with your own also if all others are locked in with themselves.

Patti on October 3, 2008 10:40 AM

I have a Zune 30GB. I like the player, but I hate the software. I initially purchased it at CompUSA who was going out of business. I should have done my homework – I thought that since it was a Microsoft item, it would sync with Windows Media player (the salesperson, who didn’t know what he was doing or just lied to make a sale), confirmed that. I have spent probably about a month trying to get the thing to import my whole music collection – since there seemed to be restrictions preventing it from importing certain types of WMA files, I spent a week converting everything to MP3. It still won’t import certain songs. (I’ve ripped most of my CD collection to *.WAV or *.WMA).The Wifi has never worked, and I am not interested in the “social.” I just wanted an MP3 player with enough space to hold most of my music collection that I could take with me.For the record, I am not a fan of Apple. I have found that, in general, their products are overpriced and their software i proprietary. You get charged through the nose for extra accesories for Ipod. I’ve had macs, and, while Windows has its drawbacks, the PCs always worked better for me.

Patti on October 3, 2008 10:42 AM

P.S. I neglected to mention that, the other thing I was disappointed in about the Zune was that it cannot be used as a mass storage device where you can “drag and drop” files, without a convoluted process. Too much trouble.If you don’t mind the zoftware and the lack of mass storage capability, then I would recommend the Zune.

Alaric on October 11, 2008 11:56 AM

Ipod is indeed very successful but fails to deliver premium sound

Adrian Kessler on October 21, 2008 12:23 PM

I read all these posts to see what people thought. The Zune is mediocre, as is that Zune software, but I’d like to see it get better for the sake of competition. Some of you have actually used and touched an iPod it seems. Right?People, there’s a reason Apple’s stock went from 10 to 200 in the last 5 years, they make great products. Are most people here liking anything but an iPod just to be different, for the sake of being different? The iPod is simple to use, has a very usable interface, and made buying music online feasible. They are now the number one music retailer. It appears that humans appreciate design and simplicity.Apple has problems, but that Zune thing is not even close to the beauty of an iPod. I think I’m on the wrong forum here for this conversation. I bought a Zune, and when I hook it up to my PC, and more often than not, some odd issue or warning so familiar to PC users.Anyway, I just had to chime in. All this slamming Apple seemed silly. Every company can do better, and Apple continuously strives to do it better. I really hope the proposed Zune 3 is a big deal. It usually takes Microsoft around 3 to 5 tries to get it right, if getting it right is in the cards. The Xbox 360 proves they can do something other than Office. I’m rooting for them, but they are far behind right now. I think the marketing is wrong. If they’d simply say, “A music player built by the company that made your computer’s operating system,” then lay out what the Zune has, and the iPod doesn’t. The day and age of subtle hints is over. That’s another thing Apple changed.One last thing, mp3 players are not audiophile almost by definition. They are about portability. You are going to give up something to have that level of portability.

MickGJ on October 23, 2008 4:56 PM

I think people are missing the point here: for some reason no-one but Apple and Microsoft seem to be capable of putting an 80gb or bigger disc in a reasonably-sized package at a reasonable price. Having done so, and for me both created eminently desirable products they then both go and ruin them by limiting them in self-serving and annoying ways–iTunes, AAC Zune software, EU volume caps etc etc. And anyone who makes a hard-disc, USB-connected product that you can’t drag and drop files to deserves to be shot.

stolennomenclature on November 5, 2008 11:54 PM

A moajor factor in people choosing Ipod is surely the look of the device. Its elegant, futuristic, and well finished. In contrast most other mp3 players i have seen look cheap and nasty. They might have good quality components and design on the inside, but the outsides look amateurish and frankly, cheap. It amazes me just how bad they look – its almost as if looking cheap and nasty was a design aim. Of all the rival mp3 players the only one I have seen that matches the iPods in the looks department is the Samsung T10.Just why other manufacturers find it so hard to make something look good I cannot fathom. Its the same in the PC field too – the Apple MAc’s may be expensive, but they LOOK expensive. Perhaps thats why people are so ready to part with their cash.I know that one should not judge technology on what it looks like, but if a company is laking the ability to make the outside look good, one tends to wonder about their ability to make the insides too.By the way this is the 4th time ive tried to post this message because of the illegibility of the Captcha.

alooper21 on November 11, 2008 4:26 AM

some guy up there complained about ipod sealing batteries because he has no problem with carrying them around to replace. well, mister wise ass, think that producing batteries that drain after a few hours of continuous use cost some money and nature, if i may say so, and inapropriate disposal by many idiots cons some more nature. i don’t praise ipods and apples here, but when they advertise something like 40 hours of continuous play (wich sure makes it at least 30 hours), what need is for speare batteries? you listen to is a week, dude, then recharge it for a few hours, maybe.i would buy an ipod because:-has damn HUUUGE storage space-i’m not an audiophile (and many of the people who rant against it aren’t, they won’t tell the difference between an ipod and some pro audio sistem)-it’s iconic and got me hooked, i admit that-zune&anythingelse are not ipod (so i will have an ipod)-i have an anti-thisarticle attitudeVoila :)

Lol. on November 15, 2008 1:37 PM

I like the zune muuucccchhh better than the iPod.But there is something i have to laugh about when i read it..Its not called and iTouch Lmao.Thats freaking retarded.Its a ipod touch tardsxD

Dustyshot on November 15, 2008 7:55 PM

All I can say for Apple. Any thing that Apple makes is for lazy people that can’t do things themselves. All their stuff is just for people that want an easy life done for them. I rather have something I can fix on my own that I am able to then sit here have an apple computer or ipod that breaks down and pay someone arm and leg or kidney to fix it. Microsoft has done good with zune. I got the 120 zune and it works perfectly. I dropped my a few times and still works like new. I dropped an Ipod Classic once and it broke the first time.

William on March 7, 2009 4:38 AM

Now that there is a iPod nano fourth generation the only thing that I only dislike about it is iTunes. But in some way it still is a copy paste “software.”Plus,who would want Wireless or Bluetooth when you already have a PC/Mac/Laptop?!

Revan on June 3, 2009 11:26 PM

I’m sorry, but what is all this bullshit about “being locked into Itunes.” WTF? No. Just no. There are alternatives to Itunes, with a little work (it’s actually kinda fun too) you can make any Ipod completely self-sustaining. You need to use Itunes exactly once, for one thing; Hitting the button thaty s

Revan on June 3, 2009 11:32 PM

What’s all this bullshit about being locked into Itunes? There are other softwares, and with a little effort (and a little fun) you can make any Ipod totally self-sustaining. You actually need 3 things. 1. Floola. 2. A player like PodPlayerPackage (you can use floola for playing songs, but it’s shit when you’re not on a Mac) 3 A cd ripper like CDex.You only need to use Itunes once, to hit the box “manually manage music”, then you can put these files on your ipod, and put music on it from any computer.I’m not pro-Ipod,(though I am anti-Zune,) but if you find a cheap Ipod in a pawn shop, why not, right?

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