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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 14, 2006 at 2:11 PM

Bach to Bach Zune talk, and thoughts on Browngate

Zune boss Robbie Bach shared his thoughts on the Zune business and Sony’s PlayStation 3 during an interview Monday at his office in Redmond. It may not captivate the gadget crowd, but I think the creative business approaches are where the Zune will really get traction against the iPod.

Bach also spent time with reporters in San Jose who ran a different Zune Q&A.

The San Jose guys were the latest to go off on the brown model. I didn’t ask about the color because I think the subject has been covered enough — Kim Peterson had a detailed story on it Monday — but I think you’ll hear more about Browngate as more reviewers get their hands on the device.

I think the brown Zune is a sort of Rohrschach test — iPod fans over age 30 seem to think it’s a big deal, potentially another misstep in Microsoft’s ill-fated pursuit of Apple. Others seem just mildly curious.

At least that’s my impression after carrying around a brown Zune for a few days. It makes me think of a comment I heard at the Zune offices in September — that the brown color and soft texture evokes a wallet.

Any controversy about the color is a dream come true for Zune marketers. The conversation begins with the assumption that Microsoft made a bold move, even though the color choice was based on conservative market research and testing. It also deflects “copying the iPod” stories.

Tut-tutting about the color also makes the Zune more appealing to the young consumers Microsoft is targeting. Nothing makes a product more attractive to them than knowing that it perplexes oldsters and the mainstream.

No wonder the brown Zune has a green tint around the edge — that’s the color of money.

Comments | More in | Topics: Gadgets & products, Zune

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