Microsoft’s Zune media player and service are taking a different tack than Windows Media, so it was interesting to read a blog posting today by Sean Alexander, a member of the Windows Digital Media End to End Experiences team.
I talked to Sean recently about his work on Clix, another iPod challenger supported by Microsoft.
Zune seems to be a snub of Windows Media, but Alexander said it’s perfectly normal for Microsoft and other players in the digital media market to take multiple, contradictory approaches.
At least two of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers compete on not one, not two, but three levels:
— They supply memory for their own, and competitive MP3 players.
— They design and sell MP3 “engines” (systems on a chip) for their own, and competitive MP3 device manufacturers
— They design, build and compete for retail space for their own, branded MP3 players
There are many other examples that can be drawn within Microsoft as well; for example, Microsoft Game Studios competes with independent game publishers for consumer dollars on the same platform (Xbox) also built by Microsoft. In all these cases, relationships of trust must be established independently between product groups or divisions.
Alexander said Zune is “an integral part of Microsoft’s vision for ‘connected entertainment’ that spans across offerings including as games, music and devices.”
He also plugged Zune Insider, the blog of Cesar Menendez, one of two ‘softies emerging as the official Zune blog voices. The other is Madison and Pine, the blog of Richard Winn, a music marketing guy who joined the Zune team last month.
Of course there’s also a bunch of Zune blogs that have emerged. It’s hard to say if they’re enthusiast sites or just opportunistic ad vehicles, but Cesar’s site has a bunch of links.