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Zune Business Dev Executive Moves On

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the fleeing-a-sinking-ship-perhaps dept.

Microsoft 125

An anonymous reader slipped us a link to the Seattle PI article discussing Bryan Lee's departure from Microsoft. The former business development VP for the Zune has parted ways with the company for personal reasons now that 'Zune was launched and on track'. This means that J. Allard will be stepping up into fill the void. Allard was instrumental in bringing the first Xbox console to market, and was the VP in charge of technical matters for the Zune. An analyst with Gartner is quoted as saying this move means not all is well in the land of Zune, but a rumour on the CrunchGear site indicates that Microsoft is planning on stepping things up later this year with a Zune cellphone. A smartphone designed to compete with Apple in that market it would seem, despite whatever problems may be going on, the company is still rather fond of the strange little brown device.

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125 comments

On track all right... (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858476)

This might be the wrong name, but he sounds like a guy I talked about with my (occasionally gullible ...) mom about a month ago.

"Oh, [UbuntuDupe], did you hear the story about this genius they have at Microsoft and all this brilliant ideas?"

"Like what?"

"Well, he was the mastermind behind the Xbox!"

"Um ... the Xbox has been a loss for five years now. That doesn't sound like it's much of a success for MS yet."

"But ... it's going to pay off eventually."

"I'm sure. Anything else?"

"Well, um, they say he was also the head of the Zune project."

"...? The Zune is a basically a butt of everyone's jokes now and has sold very poorly."

"Well, they also said he has a new brilliant idea for an upcoming product."

"But it hasn't been released yet?"

"No..."

***

Btw, for those of your unfamiliar with American business, leaving "for personal reasons" is code for "We're dumping you, you miserable failure, but we'll sugarcoat it to salvage your dignity."

Re:On track all right... (4, Informative)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858600)

Btw, for those of your unfamiliar with American business, leaving "for personal reasons" is code for "We're dumping you, you miserable failure, but we'll sugarcoat it to salvage your dignity."

Usually that's the case, but sometimes it refers to a a situation in which the person leaving is so fed up with the organization that they simply must either leave in order to preserve their sanity. The company then uses the normal incantation to the press, to make it seem as though the person leaving was the failure, rather than the execs to whom he reported. I'm not saying that's the case here, but there's usually a lot more going on with these things than meets the eye.

Re:On track all right... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858726)

there's usually a lot more going on with these things than meets the eye.
You mean, Bryan Lee is a Decepticon?

Re:On track all right... (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859092)

He's gotta be an Autobot for leaving M$.

Re:On track all right... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859978)

You mean, Bryan Lee is a Decepticon?

If he's leaving Microsoft, more likely that he would be an Autobot...

Re:On track all right... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859154)

there's usually a lot more going on with these things than meets the eye.
Just like with Optimus Prime.

Re:On track all right... (1)

raffe (28595) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858762)

"Um ... the Xbox has been a loss for five years now. That doesn't sound like it's much of a success for MS yet."

Xbox is not losing money anymore. They make money on it!

Re:On track all right... (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859046)

Long interview with Steve Balmer in last Sunday's NYT where he says that they "hope" to start making money on XBox later this year... but not now.

Re:On track all right... (4, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859094)

Xbox is not losing money anymore. They make money on it!

Incorrect. MS's entertainment division (which includes both the Xbox and Zune, but not much more than that) lost $277 million in the most recently announced quarter, which was through December 2006. It lost $275 million in the same quarter last year, so this is not even an improvement, much less a turn from losing money to making money.

No doubt the Zune dragged on those numbers a bit, but it's not nearly as costly of a product as the 360. The 360 should be subsidizing the Zune at this point, and it clearly isn't. The entire entertainment division is still being subsidized by Office and Windows. MS has lost billions on the Xbox and Xbox 360 and will probably never make that investment back.

Re:On track all right... (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859132)

From what I've read they don't expect to make a profit on the xbox until '08 (although maybe this past holiday season changed that and I missed it). And even when they do turn a profit, they've lost so many billions on the project that it will take MANY years of squeezing a profit to make it break even over the long term.

With projects like the xbox and zune, lackluster software, and challenges keeping up revenue, it really puzzles me why people still hold MSFT stock.

Re:On track all right... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859326)

From what I've read they don't expect to make a profit on the xbox until '08 (although maybe this past holiday season changed that and I missed it). And even when they do turn a profit, they've lost so many billions on the project that it will take MANY years of squeezing a profit to make it break even over the long term.

Exactly. And remember, that's just for them to make an *accounting* profit. It's still basically a loss until they can make *enough* of a profit to beat the return on a (essentially zero-risk) money market account with deposits made at the same time as their investments in the Xbox line.

Re:On track all right... (2, Informative)

Idaho (12907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859310)

"Um ... the Xbox has been a loss for five years now. That doesn't sound like it's much of a success for MS yet."

Xbox is not losing money anymore. They make money on it!
Define "making money". As far as I know, they have lost at least 4 billion dollars ($4,000,000,000) developing and selling the XBox and XBox 360 to date. While they may finally have started to actually produce positive quarterly results (btw. do you have any source proving this statement?), they haven't "made" any money until they recoup at least the money they have spent so far.

Also see here [blogspot.com] , in case you don't want to take my word for the $4B number.

Re:On track all right... (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858856)

"We're dumping you, you miserable failure, but we'll sugarcoat it so you don't sue us for defamation."

FTFY.

(would have used /strike...but...)

Re:On track all right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858970)

I guess "to spend more time with my family" is going out of style? Or is that only politicians?

Re:On track all right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859356)

Microsoft knows longterm. The Zune will be a success eventually.

Believe it or not.. (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858492)

I'm actually somewhat looking forward to seeing what they offer in a smartphone. It really can't hurt to have more options out there. I've really been somewhat on the lookout for a decently open phone with fair storage, music playing capabilities and wifi. The more phones like this on the market the better off we all are IMO.

Me too (2, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858564)

And seeing as a lot of cell phones out there (Blackjack, Q, anything running Windows Mobile) are essentially windows devices already made by windows vendors ... Microsoft is not new to the cell phone game. If anything it is old hat to them. They definitely have a leg up over Apple, who only has the ROKR (which was a failure any way you look at it) to date.

Re:Me too (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858944)

The Q, from what I have experienced using it, is also a huge failure. The device requires resets all the time, the UI is absolutely awful (go ahead -- try setting up to use a third party mail server and tell me it's easy to use), and the browser is pitiful.

I haven't ever used a Blackjack, but because it runs Windows Mobile I can only imagine it is as equally awful as the Q.

Re:Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859018)

Standard Operating Procedure for Microsoft is to see one of their customers making money and then to move into that business, either by buying or cloning their product. It's a good strategy when you are a monopoly. It's easier to extend vertically than horizontally.

Re:Me too (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859244)

ROKR and the SLVR, which is a pretty good phone. I have one, and love it.

The thing now is that the iPhone looks to be a hell of a lot better than WinCE (or Win mobile or whatever). I'd love to see MS make a better phone - it could only be good to have two huge companies competing to make a decent high-end phone.

-WS

Re:Me too (1)

jaweekes (938376) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860262)

I've got a corporate issued PPC-6700 (Sprint) which runs Windows Mobile 5. It does everything I want it to do, but it crashes all the time! From what I can figure, in true MS tradition, they have given the Data service a higher priority then the Phone service; this leads to it crashing 50% of the time when you get a call.

All MS has to do to improve the phone 100% would be to let it be a phone *first* and then a data device *second*. I think this is where Apple might have it right (We will see when the IPhone comes out).

Re:Believe it or not.. (2, Insightful)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858620)

I've really been somewhat on the lookout for a decently open phone with fair storage, music playing capabilities and wifi.

Do you really think Microsoft is going to produce an 'open' product in this area? Given that they agreed to a 'music tax' on the Zune, and the limits they place on DRM'd music, I can't imagine that it would be more open than the iPhone (or even close).

Of course, the iPhone isn't the be-all, end-all either, since it too has it's restrictions (e.g. 3rd party applications).

Re:Believe it or not.. (2, Insightful)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858852)

Honestly I was hugely disappointed with the also closed iPhone. It lacks features and touchscreen-only REALLY doesn't do it for me. Its pretty hard to drive and read your cell phone at the same time..

It doesn't have to be open but if it runs Windows Mobile, that is open enough for what I intend to do with it. I expect their phone will be just like most Windows-based PDAs, only it can make phone calls as well.

Obviously my opinions are against group-think but I am just speaking my mind. I'm anxious to see whats brought to the table by Microsoft, hopefully sometime this summer.

Re:Believe it or not.. (1, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859140)

you shouldn't be driving and trying to read ANY cell phone at the same time.

While I won't ever buy an iPhone.(too many features for me I got an L2 for a reason) It's interface is a lot more novel than your giving them credit for. The touch screen which buttons disappear when you move the phone to your ear? the iPhone is filled with little features that you won't notice until you can compare it againist LG's Prada. Now that will be a good review.

Keyboards, and mice really aren't that great for all interfaces. I have been waiting years for the technology to catch up to better methods.

Re:Believe it or not.. (2, Informative)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860170)

Thats the whole point. If I have a physical button phone I don't have to read. I can dial numbers by touch in half the time.

Also if the phone is up to my ear why do I care about the buttons being displayed? Sure the screen real estate is useful for movies or whatever. I'm sure its much more intuitive for a PDA. The problem is that I, as well as many others, want our phone to perform as a phone before anything else.

Re:Believe it or not.. (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860530)

Dialling numbers whilst driving is what the built-in voice recognition is for. Use it before you kill somebody.

Re:Believe it or not.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858732)

on the lookout for a decently open phone
We're talking about Microsoft... please stay on topic.

I hate to retread the "old news" moniker... (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858504)

...but does anyone else find it a bit scary how you can read news like this on your Wii at night, then wake up the next morning to see it on Slashdot? I'm not complaining or anything, but it seems like Nintendo's news selection is amazingly in tune with the news on Slashdot.

Or does the news on Slashdot have something to do with all the Slashdotters with their brand new Wiis? Hmmm.... ;)

Re:I hate to retread the "old news" moniker... (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858782)

...but does anyone else find it a bit scary how you can read news like this on your Wii at night
Hmm. I didn't actually know you could read news on a Wii. I'm seriously going to have to get me one of these things. Really.

Anyway, I see/hear about a lot of news on a variety of news channels like CNN, NPR, Google News, etc. and then see it on Slashdot later or the next day. I chalk it up to the format: Slashdot reports news that other sites have already published, as submitted by its readership. Nothing new, really. A lot of Slashdotters probably have Wiis given how 'cool' many /.ers think they are, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Slashdot picking up a lot of stories that appear on a Wii.

*shrug*

Re:I hate to retread the "old news" moniker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17860236)

Yeah, I caught myself wondering that very thing. Most of the news on Slashdot these past few days I've read on my Wii before I head off to bed that night before. I'm not complaining. Now, could be lots of /.ers have picked up Wii's...or it could just be that anything interesting on Slashdot is in the Technology section of the Associated Press. So - who knows.

personal reasons ? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858506)


like ethics, morality and a sense of dignity

Re:personal reasons ? (5, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858704)

He just felt it was time to squirt over to another company.

Re:personal reasons ? (2, Funny)

Have Blue (616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860354)

So he's going to die after three days at his new job?

Brown device... (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858548)

If the tag sticks, the little brown device is dead on arrival.

What's wrong with Brown? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858556)

After all my Ubuntu Desktop is brown.

Re:What's wrong with Brown? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858778)

"What Can Brown Do For You?"(TM)

Re:What's wrong with Brown? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859234)

"Ask not what Brown can do for you. Ask what you can do for Brown!"

Re:What's wrong with Brown? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860168)

>"Ask not what Brown can do for you. Ask what you can do for Brown!" Written on the wall of every aspiring Labour MP.

Re:What's wrong with Brown? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859792)

You're a heck of a color, Brownie!

Resignation Letter? (2, Funny)

PateraSilk (668445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858566)

I wonder if they squirted him his pink slip.

Re:Resignation Letter? (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858914)

Why is this offtopic? "Squirting" is the Microsoft-sanctioned use of sending someone a song over a Zune. The joke makes complete sense in this context.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859050)

But it has nothing to do with a Zune.

Re:Resignation Letter? (1)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861064)

> I wonder if they squirted him his pink slip. probably not. the DRM wouldn't allow it.

Zune cellphone? (4, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858570)

Jeezus. Is there any single market that Microsoft WON'T try and get its grubby little hands into? I don't really get why companies like Microsoft need to invade every single market they possibly can for no other reason than "because it's there". They're like some sort of cancer. I wish they would just focus on making their OS and dev tools work. Every time my Visual Studio crashes, or my computer reboots without warning, and I lose productivity, I hate them a little more. Not because they are Microsoft, but because all their effort into trying squeeze every last drop of money out of every possible market takes effort AWAY from them making their other shit work right to begin with. How long have they been making OSes? You'd think that at least THAT would work right by now...

Maybe my coffee just hasn't kicked in yet...

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

niconorsk (787297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858766)

While I generally share the sentiment of annoyance with Microsoft, it has to be said that spreading in to different markets is quite of common business practice. The idea is to protect yourself from sudden market changes by verticalizing. For example, if some mystery company were to come along and revolutionize the OS market and take it from Microsoft, htey would still have other markets to fall back on. Well, thats the idea anyway.

Re:Zune cellphone? (3, Informative)

Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858770)

Conglomerates? MS is nothing compared to conglomerates with disparate businesses. look at the Hyundai, Samsung, Siemens, BASF, 3M, Misubishi, Hitachi chæbol/keiretsu and where they have their grubby hands in.. their tenatcles ^Whands are not virtually in everything they really are in everything from software, snacks, cars, machinery, computers, 3C electronics, etc.

Compared to those and the likes of GE and such, MS is merely tip-toeing beyond it core business.

I mean, remember where HP was? Printers, computers, calculators, hard drives, scientific equipment, toner, CPU design, OS development, etc....

MS has little on them...

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

drrck (959788) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861114)

In defense of GE and HP, they tend to make good products on the whole. They are also quite a bit different of a business structure. GE & HP started with manufacturing and research. MS started with software, not a fair comparison.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858812)

Wait, wait, I think I can see it:

I see it lacking the features of the iPhone ... until years down the road ...

I see an Apple fan ... with a bumper sticker ...

"ZunePhone '16 = iPhone '07"

Re:Zune cellphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17861252)

That's assuming that people even remember the word "Zune" in 2016.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

cichlid (463444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859068)

> Jeezus. Is there any single market that Microsoft WON'T try and
> get its grubby little hands into? I don't really get why
> companies like Microsoft need to invade every single market
> they possibly can for no other reason than
> "because it's there". They're like some sort of cancer.

Yes. But cancer isn't a bad thing from the cancer's point of view

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861652)

Yes. But cancer isn't a bad thing from the cancer's point of view


It kills the host body eventually and thus destroys itself.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859184)

Because they are a monopoly. . .If they stayed in the computer software business and poured all their resources into making that bigger, they would get smacked down by anti-trust laws very quickly. By spreading into other markets they are able to expand their business without risking further anti-trust suits.

I dunno, thats my theory.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859192)

They have lots of money and are always looking for new markets. Their usual strategy is to look for markets that others have developed and copy the leaders there. Unfortunately, their technical execution is often compromised by marketing. They do have very deep pockets and will throw good money after bad to make something stick.

I wouldn't worry, though. They have failed to achieve leadership in every market they have entered where they couldn't leverage the Windows desktop monopoly.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859280)

I don't really get why companies like Microsoft need to invade every single market they possibly can

Specifically for Microsoft everyone knows that the OS and Office suite software can't bring in huge revenue forever. If they want to continue to make a profit and keep their stock in respectable territory they have to find other profitable revenue streams. Unfortunately for them they fail in every other department (defining failure as draining profit).

Re:Zune cellphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859350)

The main problem is public companies. We have created this misguided perception that a healthy company is a company that "grows". Not a company that is able to maintain its service level, production, or customers. In my opinion, a healthy economy, is an economy that eventually grows with the population... no more, no less (unless there is brand new domain of expansion... like colonizing the solar system). By basic logic... in a universe with finite resources, you can only expand to a certain point until all resources are used, and you match the replenishment of said resources. By the same token, a company is expected to grow in its initial stages, but by the time you're the biggest gorilla around, you should be expected to only maintain a certain level.

But we don't do that. Shareholders want growth (that unfortunately is largely due to the fact that lots of public companies have stopped paying dividends... so the only way to make mony from your shares is if they increase in value, which only happens with growth... that is a very very bad situation that needs to be addressed and measures taken to encourage companies to distribute more dividends amongst shareholders. Pure speculation is nothing but a pyramidal scheme with the unavoidable consequences). Because shareholders want growth the big gorilla has to wrestle the little guys out of their own little niches where they were merrily doing business. The entire concept of investment needs to be fixed. It is too speculative these days. You should be able to consider investing in a company that will give you good returns... not because the shares are increasing value, but because they make decent money and the share a good bit of it with the shareholders. There will always be moments when companies need to reinvest in research and development etc. But in a well established company you need to aim at stability, not growth anymore. Nothing can keep growing forever. It is not desirable. The economy needs to be studied more as an ecosystem. [key words: economy ecosystem Microsoft]

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859484)

Dude, go and read the Mythical Man Month. The cell-phone team is not going to help them make Windows any better. Probably worse.

You mean like Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17860252)

You mean like Apple?

1. PDA
2. WiFi Devices
3. Television Streaming Devices
4. Cellular Phones
5. Music Players
6. Various Peripherals
7. etc etc etc

 

What's wrong with your Computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17860634)

Dude, what did you do to your computer?

I'm running VS2005 on XP and have no troubles.

VS crashes maybe once a month.

And I use it 10 hours a day.

And as for my computer automatically restarting? I don't remember that happening even a single time under XP.

So next time you "hate microsoft just a little more" why don't you just save your hate and fix your computer?

When I don't change my oil and my engine seizes, I don't blame it on the car manufacturer.

Re:What's wrong with your Computer? (1, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860850)

A car engine doesn't install its own oil or download new oil via service patches. You have no choice but to do it yourself. MS meanwhile keep banging their drump about A) how good the OS is to start with and B) how amazing their auto update system is.

Re:Zune cellphone? (3, Insightful)

drew (2081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861136)

Shareholder Return.

Shareholders (typically) expect that, if you've grown your revenues at a certain rate in the past, you'll continue to grow at that rate. If you exceed your past growth, your stock value goes up. If you fall short, your stock value goes down. Microsoft saturated the Operating System a long time ago. Most of Microsoft's OS revenue comes from people buying new computers. Well before Win2k, computer buying had slowed down to the point that the vast majority of people buying new computers were replacing old computers. Where do they have left to grow? Compared to the Win95/98 days, where many people bought new versions of Windows to install on old computers that didn't have it yet, and many more people were buying their first Windows powered PC, there isn't much room for Microsoft to grow in that department anymore. (At least in the U.S. which also explains their recent intense interest in developing countries) Likewise with Office suites. As Microsoft (or any company) saturates their current market(s), they have to grow (or buy) their way into new markets in order to continue growth.

'Zune was launched and on track' (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858616)

Yeah, it's on track like the roller coaster in Final Destination 3.
It's on track to be the hardware equivalent of Microsoft Bob.

Re:'Zune was launched and on track' (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860944)

Zune was launched and on track
Sounds like they're talking about a bowel movement.

iPod then Zune then iPhone then Zone ? (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858676)

Some more fuel about Apple being MS R&D department :) Well Xbox was an exception I guess...

What would be news would be MS innovating, not announcing vaporware everytime someone in the IT field is announcing a consumer product ;)

Re:iPod then Zune then iPhone then Zone ? (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859208)

I never understood all the ohhhhhs! and ahhhhhs! over the iPhone (or whatever it will be called). If you want to call something vaporware, it would be the iPhone (since it isn't here yet). There are millions of MS based phones already being used around the world which far exceed the functionality of the "iPhone". Lookup HTC or E-Ten Technologies. They have been making pretty amazing phones for years based on Windows. These phones have specs like: quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G, integrated GPS, dual cameras (standard one on back for normal pics and videos and another on front for 3G video calls), Bluetooth, Wifi, voice activated operation, nice sized slide out Qwerty keyboard for SMS or document editing etc, touchscreen, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

I guess the US media just isn't aware of these things or if the hype is because Apple's phone will have an "i" in front of it. That said, there are two things i like about the iPhone (or one I like and one that interests me). First, the size of available storage on the iPhone will exceed anything I know of currently available. Always gotta like that, though I'm not sure I'd consider cramming more storage in a device all that inovative. The second thing which interests me is multi-touch. I love the concept of multi-touch and think it will find TONs of great uses. However, I'm a bit skeptical of its use on a cell phone for two reasons. First, I don't consider my hands freakishly large but with the screen size of the iPhone (or any cell phone currently available) I just struggule to see how more than one finger can hardly fit on a screen at the same time much less be used in combination to do anything useful. Second, its a cell phone. Presumably, one hand will be holding the phone so how do you use multi-touch without resorting to some exotic vulcan finger exersices? That said about multi-touch, I'll hold off final judgement until I can get my hands on one to see for myself. I DO think the technology has a TON of promise, just a little skeptical on its use on a cell phone.

Anyway, another intesting tidbit I heard recently. I'd heard HTC (phone I'm talking about above) recently opened thier first US offices right down the road from MS. If a Zune phone is coming, I'd bet just about anything that HTC will be the guys manufacturing them and it will just be a minor variation of the existing HTC line.

Re:iPod then Zune then iPhone then Zone ? (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860178)

There are millions of MS based phones already being used around the world which far exceed the functionality of the "iPhone".

I think the debate here is the same of that of MP3 players before the iPod. Well, many players are technically superior to the iPod. The Nomad had more space than the iPod. It's not so much that the iPhone brings a lot of new functions to smart phones. It's that the implementation of these functions may be better. Will the iPhone have a better UI? Will their browser and emails work well? I'm interested too in seeing how it works because most phones suck when it comes to UI. The other day a friend of mine asked me for another friend's number. I figure it would be easy enough to send a text message. For the life of me, there was no way I could do a simple cut and paste from my cell's phonebook. I had to write down the number type it in. It's the little things like that.


Remember, the Newton was technically superior to Palm, but Palm made their device much simpler and cheaper and they sold millions. Palm unfortunately has not been able to keep up with the demands of today's market which wants more functionality and, at the same time, ease of use.

Zune cellphone? (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858684)

but a rumour on the CrunchGear site indicates that Microsoft is planning on stepping things up later this year with a Zune cellphone
And from the linked article:

That gives Microsoft about nine months to get everything together, an entirely possible feat.
Um, no. 9 months is not enough time to bring a phone - even a simple one - to market. The only reason that we know about the iPhone is that Apple had to submit the design to the FCC for approval 6 months in advance. That would presumably give MS all of 3 months to develop this rumored phone. If they somehow managed to get something to market in that time, it would be utter crap! Unless MS already has a phone in the pipeline, or they are intending to use an existing hardware platform like they did with the Zune, this can only be a rumor.

As for the feature set, streaming video from the Xbox? Huh? You mean on your local network? Gee, that's useful. Isn't the Xbox already hooked up to a TV? If they mean from outside the network, that would require either some killer cell phone bandwidth or some way for the Xbox to be available through the firewall... not sure how that would work as a practical matter, and would you really want to leave your Xbox on all the time and exposed to the internet?

Then there's the business aspect... you've just finished alienating all of your "Plays for Sure" licensees, now you're going to alienate all of your Windows Mobile licensees? Also from a business perspective, going up against Apple's iPhone without the development time and polish, only to be released to a skeptical press in love with anything Apple produces... no thanks.

I'm sorry, this rumor just doesn't seem plausible.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859124)

See this article [crunchgear.com] also on Crunchgear. Microsoft filed patent applications for a wireless cellphone rich media device in 2005, chances are they DO have something in development.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859376)

I hadn't seen that, and it's a neat idea. The practical problem is determining when you have another Zune phone on the line. The Zune could send out an ear-shattering handshake that would be filtered by other Zunes, but that would annoy callers with non-Zune phones. It would also be exceedingly slow, as the transfer would only be able to occur during silence in the conversation. You'd be best to say, "Okay, now shut up until the transfer is complete." Even if they shut off voice during the transfer, you'd probably be stuck at about 12.2kbps, which is what GSM uses for voice. That's about 1/2 hour for a 2.5MB song, right?

In any event, maybe they do have something in the pipeline... competition is very good.

Re:Zune cellphone? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860696)

It's also worth noting that [supposedly] Apple had been working on the iPhone for years. It's not like they just came up with the idea a year ago. However, Microsoft does have a habit of throwing unfinished crap out onto the market and letting users beta-test, so who knows.

Re:Yes, a Zune cellphone! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861006)

Then there's the business aspect... you've just finished alienating all of your "Plays for Sure" licensees, now you're going to alienate all of your Windows Mobile licensees?

Yes indeed they are. The most recent example is "Plays for Sure." At some point, Microsoft PHB's decide their customers can't do a good enough job so they do it themselves. This thinking is front-loaded with so much hubris that it is downright funny.

Then again, humility is not a desirable trait for any PHB/executive.

A good move... (2, Insightful)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858690)

So, this guy was in charge of marketing the device, while J Allard handled the tech?

By most accounts, the device had decent technology, but everyone thought it was crap?

Sounds like a failure of marketing...

Re:A good move... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858848)

Yeah, the Zune was a business failure, not a technical one. They hobbled the wireless enough to make it non-compelling, but it was still there bulking up the device and reducing battery life. Since the record companies were getting a cut of the Zune's revenue anyway, they should have either negotiated fewer restrictions on the wireless or cut that feature out altogether.

By all accounts, the hardware is pretty nice.

Re:A good move... (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859118)

Zune sucked because even the positive reviews of the device included at least 5 mentions of "you can't....".

When there is a such a well established market leader like the iPod out there, offering a device with less functionality, in the same form, is a losing proposition. /squirt.

Re:A good move... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860028)

How does the Zune have less functionality than the iPod? Seriously, I haven't heard anyone explain to me how its supposably worse than the iPod. It can play music and MP3s just like iPod. Pictures? Check. I'm pretty sure it plays video too.

I hear "Its BROWN LOLOLOL" or "The wireless is lame." Well, the iPod doesn't even have an option to wirelessly share, DRM or no.

Seriously, the OP is right. How is it any less technically capable than the iPod? How does it have less functionality? All I can see is a bunch of people who are bashing something because it isn't "cool," which is a marketing failure.

Re:A good move... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859540)

I owuld not cal it a technical aspect 'decent'. Especially the interface.
I mean come on, sending someone a song interupts what they are doing with a message.

Re:A good move... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861014)

Sounds like a failure of marketing...

Yep, have you seen the TV ads? They suck in the sense they don't really tell you what is being sold. It could have been beer, clothing, or pharmaceuticals. MS tried to be edgy and cool for its own sake. To me it's like they copied Apple's tv ad idea and implemented it badly (again).


The concept: show off the product by playing cool music in the background. Maybe have some dancing in it.


Apple: Create a distinctive style so that the ads are as recognizable as the iPod. In the early ads, only use silhouette and solid colors so that iPod is highlighted. On the new iPod nano, reverse the colors so that the background is black and the only colors come from the motion of the nano. On the new iPod Shuffle ads, actors are used but only show from the head down. Each actor is morphed into another using CG. The one constant is the iPod Shuffle.


MS: Solid colors are so yesterday. Go with live action. Show off dancing, break dancing, talking, and socializing. And then for a few frames, the player itself. If there's any frames left in the commercial, show squirting.


The difference: whether you like the ads or not, the Apple ads clearly show you what is being advertised and that it's for playing music. In the newer ads, it conveys import new messages. i.e. The nano comes in colors now and the shuffle is small so it can go anywhere and for anyone.


The Zune ads: What they hell is this Zune thing all about? If I was curious, can I get it at my local grocery store? The problem is that most people are curious for a second but if they have to research it, they lose interest.

What would save the Zune (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858736)

Would be an accidental leak of firmware so that it could be more readily hacked to run Linux.

Think of the slobbering that would go on around here if you could easily use its wireless transfer on an open player.

One accidental "leak", and you know people would buy the heck out of these things.

I'm not suprised he left..... (4, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858794)

.... because anybody would be sick of getting squirted on a daily basis.

Left hand vs right hand? (2, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858798)

FTA about the record companies and the Zune:
loath to cooperate with Microsoft by easing the digital restrictions on music tracks

SO VIsta is focused on DRM while the Zune wants open exchange. Is this a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Is there a fundamental conflict here?

If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (5, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858840)

Steve Jobs, Macworld, 2008: "We've invented the iPony!" (pulls back sheet to reveal shining white magical pony prancing on stage) "His name is Starshine, and we made him from moonbeams, fairy dust, suger, spice, and a tiny bit of neatsfoot oil. He can sing, dance, do your algebra homework, and go from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds!"

Steve Ballmer, 6 months later: "We've invented the ZunePony!" (pulls back sheet to reveal hideous brown zombie pony with mismatched eyes and visible stitching across its reanimated carcase and reeking of death and sulfer) "His name is Mordheim, and we made him from corpses, discarded auto parts and some leftover copies of Microsoft Bob. He can shamble nearly 20 feet in any direction, emit unearthly screams like a damned soul, and feast on the flesh of the living!" (At this point, the zombie pony stumbles toward the camera and starts eating the brain of an AP reporter. Thankfully, this doesn't seem to have any impact on the reporter's career.)

Newstory six months later: "Microsoft says it's quite happy to capture 2% of the Magic Pony market this year. 'Just wait for ZunePony 2.0!' said Ballmer. "We've added claws and horns!"

OMG PONIES!!!!!! (1)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859032)

Mod parent up!

Its 2:30 in the morning, im shitfaced and that had me in stitches!

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (5, Funny)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859164)

Hm, the ZunePony ... will Microsoft abandon their BraysForSure platform with that one?

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (1)

awing0 (545366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859334)

Sounds more like BrainsForSure.

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859368)

nice one :)

Zuneponies can spread infectuous diseases! (2, Funny)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859940)

within 30 feet anyway.

Actually I think a zombie horse would be pretty cool, but that's not related to this...

That was awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17860140)

That might have been the funniest thing i've ever read on slashdot. Awesome man. thanks

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (2, Funny)

cordsie (565171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860148)

Excellent job sir. Recommend new 'zunepony' comedy tag.

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860622)

Steve Jobs, Macworld, 2008: "We've invented the iPony!" (pulls back sheet to reveal shining white magical pony prancing on stage) "His name is Starshine, and we made him from moonbeams, fairy dust, suger, spice, and a tiny bit of neatsfoot oil. He can sing, dance, do your algebra homework, and go from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds!"

Meanwhile, all the rest of the ponies outside who are slightly less shiny look shocked at Apple taking credit for their long-time existence.

Re:If Apple made a Magic Pony, would Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17861296)

According to the Associated Press, some countries in the EU are threatening to ban the sale of Apple's popular iPony after the company refused to divulge the ingredients in its popular Fair Hay feed. The iPony can, by design, only feed off the Fair Hay, a product which accounts for a substantial portion of Apple's annual sales. Competitors have complained that the proprietary formula of the hay combined with Apple's refusal to divulge its contents have given them a monopoly on iPony feed. There is already legislation pending in Norway's parliament proposing a ban on the feed until Apple allowed competitors access to its formula. Apple's Steve Ballmer was unavailable for comment, however a spokesperson for Apple said such laws would endanger the welfare and security of the iPony, potentially allowing consumers to purchase feed that would damage or even kill their new pet.

Applications on a Wireless phone [Crunch Gear] (3, Informative)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859078)

About 20 mins later crunch gear posted this article as well, which features a links to the Patent Applications they filed a few years ago, as well as a VERY interesting link to M$'s entire patent portfolio (5800+ patents !!)

Link to the Article on CrunchGear [crunchgear.com] .

Its interesting to see that Microsoft was thinking about this a few years ago long before Apple announced their I-phone.

Re:Applications on a Wireless phone [Crunch Gear] (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859434)

of course they were thinking about it, pretty much every technology company has been thinking about it for 15 or more years.
Let see them release something people will use.

How long before they drop the Xbox360? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17859080)

Xbox360 has never made a profit, it's never overtaken the PS2 in sales and now the PS3 and Wii are here, both consoles are outselling it. So how long before they quit throwing billions at it and 'bob' it?

Re:How long before they drop the Xbox360? (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859322)

Which part of your brain was sleeping off the hangover when you said "PS3 is outselling XBox 360"?

Which time-space continuum do you mean?

Give it time (2, Insightful)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859262)

Taking the Xbox as example, I would not be surprised if :

_Microsoft seriously commits to this product long enough
_After several incremental iterations

This would end up being a fair product. If not good.

Especially when you read that some of the biggest user complaints stem from 'political decisions' made by Microsoft/media companies and do not come from a technical standpoint.

Riiiight... (1)

dep01 (730107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859302)

in other words: "I'm getting off this sinking ship while i still can."

Don't tell! MS copying Apple? (0, Flamebait)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17859852)

I just can not fucking believe it.

Masters of the Zuniverse (4, Interesting)

jonesvery (121897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860068)

An analyst with Gartner is quoted as saying this move means not all is well in the land of Zune, but a rumour on the CrunchGear site indicates that Microsoft is planning on stepping things up later this year with a Zune cellphone. A smartphone designed to compete with Apple in that market it would seem, despite whatever problems may be going on, the company is still rather fond of the strange little brown device.

Lest we forget: the uninspiring launch of "the Zune" appears to have overshadowed the fact that Microsoft has consistently viewed (and presented) "Zune" as a brand that will cover an ecosystem of interrelated devices, not the specific PMP that was released a couple of months ago. I'm sure that the company would have loved to have an immediate hit, they're in this for the long term. Think XBox: Microsoft is willing to put cash into short-term life support if they believe that there's long-term potential.

Remember also that even before anyone outside of Microsoft had heard the word "Zune," Steve Ballmer was hinting at a communications/music convergence device as one of the iPod-killing-project's outputs. In the March 2006 interview that gained attention for the "Ballmer has brainwashed his children" comments, Ballmer had this to say in response to the question "think you can crack the iPod market?"

It's going to take an innovative proposition. In five years are people really going to carry two devices? One device that is their communication device, one device that is music? There's going to be a lot of opportunities to get back in that game. We want to be in that game. Expect to see announcements from us in that area in the next 12 months.

This is not to say that I see very rosy prospects in the short (or medium, or long) term for the Zune, but simply that Microsoft's direction has been pretty clear for a while; unfortunately for them, it appears that this direction has been pretty clear to Apple, as well.

I've written about recent Zune-related happenings in more detail here [blackmailr.com] , but the short version is that if I were Bryan Lee I'd be taking some personal time, too -- Microsoft isn't out of this game by any means, but despite their (apparently) best efforts, hardly a week goes by without something popping up that puts Microsoft in the position of playing catch-up on yet another front: weak Zune launch, disconnect between the marketing and the reality of "the social," the development of public "music download stations," the iPhone...it's getting to be a pretty long list.

It's going to be a brutal couple of years for the Masters of the Zuniverse, no matter what happens.

Gaining Zune Marketshare (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860278)

If Microsoft wants Zune marketshare, they should be basically giving it away. You're not going to remove iPod's cool factor with a device that costs as much, has the Microsoft name associated with it, and offers marginal, if any, improvement. And sharing crippled, DRM-laden, play-limited, songs wirelessly just isn't enough more. Your brown faux iPod just isn't going to impress your friends enough for what it cost you.

Unrelated to Zune's performance (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17861294)

"A personal decision unrelated to Zune's performance..." Why, of course it was.

It was just a few weeks ago Bill Gates patted him on the back and said "Bry, you're doing a heckuva job." A

And Brian Valentine Jim Allchin Ray Ozzie said he was "behind him 1000%."

And the chair Ballmer threw at him was a top-of-the-line Aeron chair, the kind Ballmer throws only at people for whom he has the highest esteem.
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