Steve Jobs Talks Frankly About Zune And Microsoft

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Steve Jobs is no fan of Microsoft despite the fact that it was Microsoft that helped keep his Company afloat with a $300 million dollar investment several years ago.

 During a far reaching interview with the US Newsweek  Steve Jobs said of Microsoft’s Zune “It is so slow that in a romantic setting by the time a song plays, “the girl’s got up and left!” Jobs made the comments on the fifth anniversary of Apple’s iPod. The battle between Apple and Microsoft could intensify early next year when Apple launch their new OS that allows Windows based software to run seamlessly on an Apple PC. He is also set to launch a major competitor to the Microsoft Media Centre as well as a phone that will take on Microsoft Mobile.

One insider has told SHN that they ancipate that Apple may also offer a full suite of software in conjunction with Google in an effort to take on Mac Office from Microsoft. During the Newsweek interview Jobs he had a couple more comments that reveal, in his mind at least that the Zune player will not be competitive.
Jobs said he is not worried by Microsoft’s claim that Zune’s strength lies in communities of music listeners does not worry Job. He added that from demonstrations he has seen, the Zune music sharing system, which allows a user to play a shared song three times, takes forever. “By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left!” Jobs said. “You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear.”  Jobs also explained how Apple convinced music companies to open their warehouses to iTunes and not to raise prices.  “Our core initial strategy on the store was that if you want to stop piracy, the way to stop it is by competing with it, by offering a better product at a fair price. And it worked,” Jobs said.

    Jobs went on to say he convinced music companies not raise prices by telling them, “many (users) will say, ‘I knew it all along that the music companies were going to screw me, and now they’re screwing me.’ And they would never buy anything from iTunes again. We would never recover their trust.”

    The Apple CEO also defended claims that some record companies think that the Apple iTunes online music store has too much power. He said that Apple resisted pressure to raise prices of music downloads because it would break a deal that Apple had with people that the company had convinced to stop music piracy.

Steven Levy of Newsweek tossed Steve Jobs a few softballs in a brief interview about the iPod, but nonetheless Jobs is always fascinating. On the iPod, Jobs attributes success to a design philosophy in which less is more, suggesting that other consumer products are “really complicated surfaces,” and that Apple tried to make something that was “holistic and simple.” Apple “had the hardware expertise, the industrial design expertise and the software expertise, including iTunes.” Of course, Apple Computer didn’t actually create iTunes, having purchased the rights to SoundJam in 2000. Further, there is the unasked question of Creative Technology’s influence on the iPod.

Regarding the iTunes Store, Jobs gives a brief rundown of the 18 month negotiation with the record labels. Over that time frame, the labels tried various models, all predicted to fail by Jobs, at which point Apple was given a chance. One argument Apple used is rather humorous: 

“If we’re completely wrong and you completely screw up the entire music market for Mac owners, the sandbox is small enough that you really won’t damage the overall music industry very much.”
It looks like market share, or lack thereof, does matter. Having succeeded on the Mac, Apple was then allowed to expand to Windows and world domination. That domination has caused some friction with the labels over pricing, but Jobs steadfastly argues that if the labels raise prices, the consumers will feel cheated and betrayed. Of course, when asked a related question about the fairness of iPod lock-in, it turns out consumers “knew that all along” and “nobody’s ever demanded” interoperability.

The upcoming Zune player from Microsoft is not worrying Jobs. Oddly, he offers some dating advice, rejecting Zune’s wireless sharing in the process.

“It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.”

When asked about whether the iPod will “always be about music,” Jobs says it will be for a “long, long, long, long, long time.” And for good reason, because music needs the iPod.

“I think that music faded in importance for a while, and the iPod has helped to bring music back into people’s lives in a really meaningful way.”

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