Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Gates takes Apple bait!

I’m not one for hype but I do find it fascinating if a forecast (as conspiratorial as it could be) turns out to be rather prescient. Case in Point: Many of you may have read that Microsoft is getting into the crowded mp3 player market with the launch of their Zune brand.

Microsoft says it’s a “brand” and is thinking about “‘seven or eight’ wireless scenarios” that they could possibly enable on the Zune, some of which are browsing other users’ libraries, buying and downloading songs w/o a PC and viewing a “digital locker”.

It all started w/ Steve Jobs’ baiting MS:

The problem is, the PC model doesn’t work in the consumer electronics industry, where you’ve got all these companies and some does one thing and another does another thing. It just doesn’t work. What’s going to happen is that Microsoft is going to have to get into the hardware business of making MP3 players. This year. X-player, or whatever.

And its true now…An iPod killer from Microsoft? Well, early prognostications yield insight into the possibility that the hunter may become the hunted. What? Why?

Chris Siebold from Apple Matters wrote (in Jan 06) a prescient piece “Want to Marginalize the iPod? Ask Steve Jobs How?” where he states that Microsoft’s foray into mp3 players may be a tad difficult to succeed even for the mighty MS.


If the only thing that is required for Microsoft to decimate the iPod is a Microsoft branded mp3 player then the future is bleak. That assessment is a little too dark. Steve may have made the path to iPod irrelevancy seem straight enough but, if Microsoft takes the gamble, they will surely find the trail full of blind turns, deadly snakes and crumbling footholds.


The logistics, of course, won’t be problematic for Microsoft. They have scads of cash for development and other associated manufacturing costs. Rather, the issue would be with those who already manufacture digital audio players and license Microsoft’s DRM. Suddenly, these manufacturers would find themselves competing directly with Bill Gates and his well-paid minions.

Chris then goes on to conclude that (i) “With this realization, we now see Steve’s comment not as a roadmap but as bait.”, and (ii) that in this scenario manufacturers would naturally choose the market leader Apple over MS, thereby turning the tables on an erstwhile PC giant. It’ll be interesting to see if this forecast will play out exactly as envisioned, but it does make for some interesting drama.

Wow! It’s also mighty impressive to think that tech giant Steve Jobs went all Sun Tzu on Bill Gates, with his strategy. Bring it on… The war of the DRMs is on!

Read Chris’ entire article here and don’t forget to read the comments section. Super-interesting.

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