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Microsoft Keeps Hitting Apple Over the Head with a Cash Register: This Time with the iPod



Microsoft is keeping up the financial pressure on Apple. Now that it has released several ads in the Laptop Hunter series, it is now going after the iPod. Casting a financial analyst to deliver the goods, the ad says it will cost $30,000 to fill up an iPod. Of course this is to point out that the $15 a month Zune pass is cheaper.

As Ars Technica points out, depending on your music acquisition preferences the math doesn’t really add up. Of course the Apple fan boys are going crazy about this, just like with the Laptop Hunter ads. It may all be too little too late for Microsoft because Apple has succeeded in defining the battleground so well without any counterpunches for years, but at least Microsoft is trying to get in the game.



  1. Sumocat

    05/12/2009 at 8:15 am

    I don’t know who this ad targets. If you have 30,000 songs, more likely than not, most weren’t purchased, so cost isn’t a concern. Plus, the 120 is probably the least-selling iPod. So they’re going after the most narrow group of would-be iPod buyers, composed of those most inclined to steal music, and appealing to those who don’t steal music. How many people is that? Ten? Yeah, this ad should see a good return on investment.

    Besides which, who even needs 30,000 songs on their iPod? That’s more than the top 100 songs from each month for the past fifty years, not counting the multiple repeats. If you’re filling it with lossless music or video, then fine, but that draws the song count down tremendously. The vast majority of people get along fine with much fewer than 30,000. My entire collection is fewer than 5,000 songs, most of which are filler songs from albums. Seems like excessively narrow targeting to me.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    05/12/2009 at 4:08 pm

    Doesn’t add up?! WTF!?

    At $14.95/month for 18 months (let’s face it, if you keep any portable music/phone gadget for 18 months, you’re pushing its lifespan), that’s $269.10. That’s for unlimited downloads (plus 10/month you get to keep) for an 18-month life of that device. I’ve downloaded 6,700 songs from the Zune Marketplace, and yeah, I actually listen to them all over time since I keep it on a random playlist most of the time. Take 6700-180 (for the 18 months worth of songs I get to keep even if I leave Zune), and you have 6520 songs that are “rented”. 6520-songs at $295.10 puts them at about 4.5-cents per song… But wait, I have videos on my Zune too… so add in that cost. I paid less up-front for the hardware too, plus when the firmware/software updates come out I get those free.

    Meanwhile I pay more for the hardware and the music and the videos for an iPod most definitely DOES add up.

    Even at Sumocat’s 5,000 songs, that’s still under 6-cents/song.

    Let’s really break it down simple… As soon as you download your 16th song per month, you start saving since you’re getting to keep 10. As soon as you hit 30 songs (about 2 albums), you have dropped your per-cost song to 50-cents assuming you don’t even keep any. Even if you keep the Zune well past 18 months, it will take a long time to spend more on the Zune Pass than you do on the same content from Apple.

    But even if you don’t buy into the Zune Pass/renting music idea, there’s still the traditional pay-as-you-go model of buy the song or buy the album.

    To me, Zune Pass is no different than Netflix. The more you use it, the more you benefit.

  3. Mark

    05/12/2009 at 10:52 pm

    Zune Pass is a remarkable value, if you are prone to purchasing any music at all. $14.95 a month including 10 song credits means an effective cost for the subscription of $5/month. That’s less than half the cost of a single movie ticket. It’s a small fraction (20% or so) of what I pay for cable TV in total, and half of what I pay for HBO. And for that $5, I can download any number of songs from the Zune Marketplace. Facing a choice between my Zune Pass and cable, I’d choose the former.

    Even if I only use the service for a year, and then cancel and “lose” all of my subscription songs (the leading argument against the service), then I’ve only paid $60 for a year of enjoying thousands of songs. Even at $14.95 a month ($179.40 a year) that’s a good deal. At $5/month ($60/year), it’s a steal.

    Microsoft could have done their calculations at a fraction of the math they used in the commercial and, financially at least, the Zune Pass would be a far superior method for enjoying music. And the Zune is a great piece of hardware; having used both, I prefer the Zune over the iPod Touch for podcasts and audiobooks, and the Zune is usable when you can’t see the screen.

    Much of the Apple fanbase is really showing their irrational side with their reactions to this ad. Their arguments, as I’ve seen them, range from claims to piracy (“I don’t pay for my music at all, so this ad is stupid!”) to simple evasion (“I’d never pay $5 a month for unlimited music downloads. That’s just stupid!”). Very few Apple fans that I’ve read in a number of forums are honest enough to admit that the Zune Pass is a great offering and the Zune’s a good player, but that they simply prefer the Apple ecosystem.

  4. JimAtLaw

    05/13/2009 at 8:54 am

    Indeed, the Apple fans are apoplectic at the fact that the Apple tax is very real here and do not know how to respond to this. You could put $3,000 or so in an annuity and get the Zune Pass paid for for the duration of your lifetime – call it renting, but if I have it for my entire life, at 1/10 of the cost, does it matter?

  5. V for Vivian

    05/14/2009 at 11:08 am

    Well, the Zune stuff is contaminated with DRM and thus inferior. By the way, filling up a 120GB iPod costs nothing if you download creative commons music. I’m not saying that this pass is a bad deal, but this “math” is a bit too simplified.

    It’s not like the Apple ads would contain more truth but they are at least funny ;)

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