Strike While the iRon is Hot…

Yes, that is the opening line from Manowar’s classic heavy metal anthem “Brothers of Metal,” and no, I didn’t capitalize it like that accidentally. It’s all deliberate, you see…

Anyone with an internet connection knows that Apple has just revamped its iPhone and iPod product lines.

Wait a minute! Matthew, I thought you were a Microsoft guy? I thought your blood was blue and you drank the kool-aid at every meal?

Well yeah, I love Microsoft. Their database and developer tools are second to none, and I’ve built my professional life (and, sort of sadly, most of my hobbies) around them with lots of enthusiasm and no regret.[1]

But I love my iPod too. I’ve owned a half dozen or so different MP3/media players over the years, and and nothing even comes close. It’s easy to use, works great and basically does everything that I want it to. It is so nice that I can even get over my general distaste of Apple (engendered primarily by their Mac operating system and secondarily by the holier-than-thou attitude that their cult of personality fosters in their “faithful”) and enjoy using it whenever I’m away from home.

So anyway, there’s a product line refresh, right? They’re integrating the nice wide screen and touch-sensitive UI from the iPhone into the new iPods, right? Super duper cool, says Matthew! I’ve traveling a lot for work[2] lately, and have started watching movies on my iPod on those long flights where I just can’t read, write or code for one more minute. And having a portable 80 GB (like my current iPod) movie player with a nice wide screen should would be nice. I might even blow another few hundred bucks to get one, and hand my current iPod to my wife…

But no! They only have the nice movie-friendly screen on the pathetic flash-based iPods that hold a maximum of 16 GB. WTF? I dislike a lot of things about Apple, but I don’t generally accuse them of screwing up when it comes to marketing and product placement. This is usually where they embarrass the competition. But not today.

And now we come to the motivation for the title of this post: what is Microsoft going to do about this? Here’s my advice for the Xune team:

Strike! Attack! Pounce! For the love of all that is holy, go for their throats and give the world a better media player, with huge capacity and a big wide screen!

And by Odin’s balls, don’t make it brown this time.

So Apple has blown it this once, but I don’t see Microsoft paying attention to the blood that’s been spilled, and that’s a damned shame. I bet I’m not the only one with four or five hundred dollars burning a hole in his pocket wishing he could give it to someone other than Steve Jobs.[3] Come on guys – impress us.

[1] And any time I stray into the worlds of Oracle, Java and MacOS, I’m reminded just how much Microsoft kicks ass.
[2] Honestly, far too much, but that’s another story…
[3] The best thing that’s come out of this press frenzy around the iPod/iPhone debacle is my discovery of “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” – a blog written by the actual real Steve Jobs, just pretending he’s someone at Forbes so he can actually speak the truth without getting turned on by his minions. Really.

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About ssimagine

My name is Matthew Roche, and I am a Senior Program Manager with the SQL Server product group at Microsoft. I work on Master Data Services and Data Quality Services, and have previously worked on SQL Server Integration Services. Although I work for Microsoft and will be posting on technical topics, I want to stress that this is a personal blog, and any opinions posted here are mine and mine alone. I built my career around SQL Server and Microsoft technologies for well over a decade before I joined Microsoft as an employee, and I plan on using this blog to share my personal experience and opinions. They may well be shaped by my experience on the SQL Server team, but they’re still mine, and not that of Microsoft, disclaimer, disclaimer, etc., etc..
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4 Responses to Strike While the iRon is Hot…

  1. Scott says:

    MS is incompetent when it comes to portable media. They HAD WiFi in a portable player first and they castrated it so badly it became a joke. All they had to do was WiFi enable Urge or MSN Music (remember that failed potential?) and Apple would look like a johnny-come-lately.

  2. Not meaning this in a bad way, but who cares about wireless in a hand-held music player? Perhaps my musical tastes are just a little out of the mainstream, but I can’t imagine just happening to meet someone who just happened to be listening to music I liked but did not own, and using the same media player as I? The odds are stacked against me. Instead, give me lots of storage, support for lots of different video formats and codecs (DivX, anyone? MKV? OMG?) and a nice big screen, *plus* great software on the PC that lets me manage my music and video library. That would turn my head. WiFi never will unless they can come up with the “killer app” that I’ve yet to see…

  3. Scott says:

    Well the killer app, imo, is the ability to buy songs on the device without using a PC a’la the latest WiFi iTunes music store. Not the ability to “squirt” (Balmers words) music to another Zune owner.The “squirting” thing was doomed because by definition, people with a portable music device listening to music with headphones on are not being social.

  4. Perhaps then my reluctance is based in my refusal to deal with DRM in my music in any form. Until the hypothetical wireless online store has a comprehensive selection completely untainted by DRM, I’m simply not interested.

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