iPod the Pong of Digital Music

In an interview with Gizmodo, Microsoft’s J Allard called the iPod the Pong of digital music.

Giz: Why should iPod users switch to a Zune?

J Allard:The wrong consumer to start with is…

the one who says “You’ll take my ipod from my cold clammy hands.”
People love their social networks, though. If they’re over email, IM, or on the web, it’s integrated into their lives. We want to bring that to portable music. Digital music is far front done. Ipod is the Pong of digital music. Let’s take it to the next level. And connected is what its all about.

The other thing is video. It’s a much more inclusive part of people’s life. Especially tail end video [referring to Wired and Chris Anderson's Long Tail theories]. How do we bring that to pockets? Oh yes: People said we want a bigger screen [than the ipod].

Now, before you take that as an attack on Apple, I need to say what he was trying to say. He was saying the iPod is the first big hit of digital music, hell, I’d still play pong if it was put in front of me, wouldn’t you? Many, many people own an iPod, we have two, the original 20 gig with the black and white screen and my boy owns a Nano, with all of its wonderful scratches. Heck, we have a local radio station that calls itself xPod, for whatever reason, they don’t fit in my pocket, they don’t just play songs that I like, and play way too much Poison. Sounds dumb when they say it, “xPod Radio”.

Apple should take the statement to heart though, if what he says is true, that means the iPod will be going away to be replaced by the next generation digital music player, and we all know which one Microsoft hopes it will be, Zune. Allard even spoke about the Wifi capabilities of Zune, saying,

Put WiFi in, start with one or two scenarios that users will understand. A few times a year, we’ll update the firmware, and let consumers do new and exciting things.

I like the sounds of this, Zune will start with the ability for users to share music with outher Zune devices,

Wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing lets consumers spontaneously share full-length sample tracks of select songs, homemade recordings, playlists or pictures with friends between Zune devices. Listen to the full track of any song you receive up to three times over three days. If you like a song you hear and want to buy it, you can flag it right on your device and easily purchase it from the Zune Marketplace.

With the prospect of them adding to these abilities, this one doesn’t sound as bad, of course three times or three days suck, but we all know some young enterprising young hacker will figure out how to bypass the DRM, and will all be sharing mp3′s until our hearts content. Not that I would or want to. ;)

While I kind of agree about the iPod being the first big thing, I don’t think they will lay down and go away, Apple has bigs things planned for the iPod, remember,

Apple is in your den
Apple is in your living room
Apple is in your car
Apple is in your pocket

at least in Apple’s picture of the future of digital music.