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Zune Beats iPod: How Apple Can Learn from Microsoft’s Success
Digital Trends ^ | 11/17/2006 | Rob Enderle

Posted on 11/19/2006 12:25:48 AM PST by Swordmaker

Zune launched this week and, as predicted, it easily jumped to the number one spot in one of the most critical market metrics. How can this happen? How can a company known for practices that should dominate this metric fall so far behind its Redmond rival?

Sometimes it’s about focus and commitment and a never ending desire to maximize critical metrics like third party studies. Sometimes it about executive integrity and the ability to present a product in the most favorable light in the face of all information to the contrary to overcome all objections in getting a product to market that can get a win in this way. And sometimes it is about being so focused on what executive management wants to see that everything else is blocked out.

Zune Wins iPod Loses

Zune generated more negative press during its launch than any iPod, including the first crippled Shuffle, has ever done. It got so bad earlier this week that folks are getting excited about the fact that it wouldn’t even work with Vista right now even though Vista is only in limited corporate release to customers who would avoid anything like Zune (or iTunes) like the plague.

If reports are correct Zune also has more unsold inventory sitting in stores than Apple has ever had; customers evidently didn’t understand that “Brown” was cool. I’m guessing they didn’t see the survey saying that Brown was the hot new color.

Zune goes down in history as being the latest in a string of products from Microsoft that fail to meet market expectations, suggesting a competence in failure that is unmatched in the technology segment. Recall Mira the wireless display, or WebTV, or the Microsoft Phone, the Microsoft USB Speakers, and their Bluetooth Keyboards and Mice. Some did so poorly they are the stuff of legend and Apple simply can’t seem to compete but they could learn to.

How Apple Could Learn to Succeed at Failure

To have this kind of success at failure you have to work at it, you can’t just walk in and screw up to this level it takes concerted effort.

Rule 1: Avoid what you don’t want to do. For Zune Microsoft did a really nice job on the software, channel, and revenue model. They didn’t want to really focus on the hardware and this created a situation where the product could get funded (looked really good on paper) but actually had no chance to be successful in a market that was hardware focused.

Rule 2: Do CYA analysis. Executives like to see numbers and generally won’t fund a project that looks like it will fail so your strategy has to include studies that support the possibility of success. This is actually easier than you think because most executives have not studied this area and don’t know the questions to ask. Some nice bar and pie charts typically do the trick and you can always do the “emperor has no clothes” thing and suggest that their smart peers understand the study implying that only stupid people would question it.

Rule 3: Play the Demographic card. Executives in most firms don’t understand kids, hell kids don’t often understand kids, and simply saying that kids do stupid things (like wearing their pants below their butts) means that they will also buy stupid things. Adults seem to connect disconnected things to each other easily so draw parallels between an unattractive products to unattractive dressing behavior.

Rule 4: Don’t Listen. For most of the products listed, there were large numbers of people who said, early on, that they wouldn’t work, were unfinished, or otherwise unappealing to the current market. In a way they are just validating your success at failing so why listen to them? Use their comments as private validation that your strategy to fail spectacularly is on schedule and well down its chosen path.

Where Apple Gets it Wrong

For some reason Steve Jobs and his team simply doesn’t get this. They tend to block marginal products and spend whatever time is necessary to create music players that people want to buy in large numbers. There are signs they are learning though. The first Shuffle, the ROKR, their handling of the RSS problem. These are things that indicate what may be a growing trend to eventually dominate Microsoft in their quest to create spectacular products that go down in the record books as legendary disasters.

Apple isn’t there yet but if they work at it really hard I think they can find a way, some day, to release a product with the same success as Zune. I just hope I’m not around to see it.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: commercialbomb; doa; dud; heavysarcasm; humor; ipod; microsoft; mp3player; sarcasm; zune
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1 posted on 11/19/2006 12:25:51 AM PST by Swordmaker
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To: 1234; 6SJ7; Action-America; af_vet_rr; afnamvet; Alexander Rubin; anonymous_user; ...
YES! It's true... the title of the article tells it all - Zune Beats iPod: How Apple Can Learn from Microsoft’s Success

PING!

If you want on or off the Mac Ping List, Freepmail me.

2 posted on 11/19/2006 12:28:29 AM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: martin_fierro

Ping...


3 posted on 11/19/2006 12:29:33 AM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: Swordmaker

No doubt Microsoft was dismayed that people weren't rioting in the streets for Zunes, like they were for Sony Playstations. There were no lines of people camped out for days in front of BestBuy to get a Zune. Zune is the biggest Microsoft flop since "Bob".


4 posted on 11/19/2006 12:34:56 AM PST by HAL9000 (Get a Mac - The Ultimate FReeping Machine)
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To: HAL9000

The Zune is the personal digital music player market's equivalent of the Lada Riva. Produced by an enormous corporation, lots of features on paper, but the product completely misses the point, the features don't work, and the thing tanks horribly. (You can also substitute "Yugo" for "Lada".)


5 posted on 11/19/2006 12:41:48 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Swordmaker

Evidently, the Zune software isn't any good either:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/11/13/installing-the-zune-sucked/


6 posted on 11/19/2006 12:52:51 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr

I know my kids won't have one. They are completely contemptuous of the Zune. Even the name....


7 posted on 11/19/2006 3:58:56 AM PST by Shimmer128
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To: Swordmaker

How much did Microsoft pay for this article?

And isn't it true that Zune doesn't work w/ Vista?

(Snicker - I think I'll keep my ipod)


8 posted on 11/19/2006 4:45:53 AM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: Swordmaker
What about the other mp3 devices? The media makes it seem as though it is only Apple and Microsoft. That is isn't very fair.

Yes, life isn't fair, but still.

9 posted on 11/19/2006 4:52:12 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Angry? http://www.freerepublic.com/~jedimasterpikachu/ (Could simply be misunderstanding).)
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To: Swordmaker

And what's mp3 for, anyway, multi-something?


10 posted on 11/19/2006 4:53:08 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Angry? http://www.freerepublic.com/~jedimasterpikachu/ (Could simply be misunderstanding).)
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To: KosmicKitty
How much did Microsoft pay for this article?

If they did . . .

Re-read it :-)

11 posted on 11/19/2006 5:36:04 AM PST by Tribune7
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To: Swordmaker

Funny article. Almost sad people are missing the sarcasm. I still like my shuffle, though - it's great to take when I go hiking. My 60 gig ipod feels like a brick in comparison.


12 posted on 11/19/2006 5:37:22 AM PST by Salo
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To: HAL9000
No doubt Microsoft was dismayed that people weren't rioting in the streets for Zunes, like they were for Sony Playstations

Well, when your supposed hot new product that everyone has to have won't even work with the next-generation OS you're now rolling out onto the shelves, I'd say you have a bit of a problem.

13 posted on 11/19/2006 6:15:26 AM PST by CFC__VRWC (AIDS, abortion, euthanasia - Don't liberals just kill ya?)
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To: Swordmaker

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzuuuuunne


14 posted on 11/19/2006 6:29:35 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (A living insult to islam since 1959)
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To: HAL9000
I loved Bob.
15 posted on 11/19/2006 6:33:10 AM PST by LongElegantLegs (...a urethral syringe used to treat syphilis with mercury.)
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To: eagle_talon

Another fine effort by Microsuck.


16 posted on 11/19/2006 6:54:53 AM PST by big'ol_freeper (It looks like one of those days when one nuke is just not enough-- Lt. Col. Mitchell, SG-1)
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To: Tribune7

Oops

Bad, KItty, bad. Do not post before coffee :-)


17 posted on 11/19/2006 7:06:02 AM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: Swordmaker
The Zune and the accompanying music store does have its flaws, but truth be told, so does the iPod. Microsoft has demonstrated that it IS possible to produce a compact device with these features: The Zune interface is also at least as good (I think better) than that on the iPod, proving that Apple doesn't have a monopoly on good interface design.

Where Microsoft screwed up was in abandoning their existing, semi-open DRM. If they had not done that, I would have gladly tossed my 3G iPod in the trash and switched. I am really tired of closed DRM schemes that prevent me from using my content on more than one device. However, I suspect the reasons behind that were more to do with the fact that PlaysForSure was cracked recently and concerns about being able to sign up the record labels.

The truth is, Apple has a virtual monopoly on this market now, and as long as there isn't a serious competitor they really have little motivation to advance the platform. How long will Apple sit on the large screen version of the iPod?

18 posted on 11/19/2006 7:20:50 AM PST by Scutter
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To: Scutter

Microsoft hasn't proven anything, since the Zune is a repackaged Toshiba GigaBeat S - only slight modifications.

1. Large screen - well, that hasn't helped the GigaBeat S, since it has failed to make a dent in the iPod's sales. And a large screen means a bigger device, which people have emphatically demonstrated that they do not want.
2. Some people have been very vocal about wanting the FM tuner, but Apple keeps surveying their customers and a tuner isn't high on the list of what their actual customers want.
3. Um, the buggy screaming pig on Windows? Other than the OS itself? And the Zune software appears to have even *more* problems than that. iTunes/Windows looks like a shining example of reliability compared to that.


19 posted on 11/19/2006 8:07:06 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

It's short for MPegaudio layer 3. MPEG is short for "Moving Pictures Experts Group."

As for the media, Apple has 75%+ of the digital audio player market. Microsoft is in the uncomfortable position of trying to break into a market dominated by someone else, who has learned from the screwings that they have received from M$ in the past. That makes for an interesting story - especially given the fact that the iPod's popularity has killed off at *least* three good-sized companies who were competing with it (and failing).



20 posted on 11/19/2006 8:10:54 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Scutter

And they'll sit on the large screen version as long as it takes them to get the new hybrid touchscreen right. Unlike MS and the entire satellite industry around Windows, Apple isn't willing to ship something that's half-baked out the door because "market experts" demand that they do it.

They're taking their time and they're doing it right.


We have at least one FReeper that works on the iPod for Apple doing software (might be a company contracting with Apple). He's explained it a number of times.


21 posted on 11/19/2006 8:13:28 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: LongElegantLegs

You obviously never had to support that POS.


22 posted on 11/19/2006 8:14:17 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr

No, I think I was about 9 when it was released. Maybe that's why I loved it... ;-P


23 posted on 11/19/2006 8:22:28 AM PST by LongElegantLegs (...a urethral syringe used to treat syphilis with mercury.)
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To: Spktyr; Scutter; Swordmaker
1. Large screen - well, that hasn't helped the GigaBeat S, since it has failed to make a dent in the iPod's sales. And a large screen means a bigger device, which people have emphatically demonstrated that they do not want.

It should also be noted that while the screen is physically slightly bigger than the iPod's, it contains the exact same number of pixels. So you're not getting any extra screen real estate, and you also get the added benefit of having most of your videos stretched out of proportion. Go Microsoft!

24 posted on 11/19/2006 8:39:32 AM PST by Dont Mention the War (Giuliani '08: Why not p. o. BOTH sides?)
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To: Spktyr
2. Some people have been very vocal about wanting the FM tuner, but Apple keeps surveying their customers and a tuner isn't high on the list of what their actual customers want.

Actually, what I'd like to see is an AM tuner. I think it's pretty self-evident that the reason most people carry around MP3 players is to avoid generic FM radio in the first place; besides, if you want to listen to the radio, you can do that with a Walkman that costs $15 and has the tuner built into the headphones. But at least an AM tuner would let me quickly switch over and get a talk radio fix if I felt the need.

25 posted on 11/19/2006 8:44:43 AM PST by Dont Mention the War (Giuliani '08: Why not p. o. BOTH sides?)
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To: Allegra; ambrose; Bella_Bru; Born Conservative; Cagey; Caipirabob; CarrotAndStick; CFC__VRWC; ...
iPod
Send FReepmail if you want on/off iPing list
WARNING: This is a high-volume Ping list. Turn your headphones down
The List of Ping Lists

26 posted on 11/19/2006 8:54:16 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Spktyr

Egad.

I read that whole thing and the Zune -- that really really really is a problem.


27 posted on 11/19/2006 9:31:39 AM PST by Sundog (11/2/06 has come and gone, now the Age of Sarcasm is upon us.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
It should also be noted that while the screen is physically slightly bigger than the iPod's, it contains the exact same number of pixels. So you're not getting any extra screen real estate, and you also get the added benefit of having most of your videos stretched out of proportion.
It's the size not the resolution that is important because the video content isn't able to take advantage of any higher resolution. If what you said is true, people would watch standard (not HD) TV on iPod-sized devices. Go Apple Fanboys!
28 posted on 11/19/2006 10:03:08 AM PST by Scutter
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To: Salo

They seem to be. It might not be sarcasm, though, but irony.


29 posted on 11/19/2006 10:08:48 AM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: Salo

I love the Shuffle, it's just what I need, no more, no less.


30 posted on 11/19/2006 10:11:29 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: Swordmaker

Well, it makes zero difference to me which device wins out. With that said, the iPod has dominated for years. Just because the Zune realizes extremely short-term market success in the niche crowd of people who must have something before everyone else does not make it a market winner. Only time will tell. People should monitor for useful market data over three, six, and twelve month windows rather than attempting to draw meaningful conclusions from a single, likely-anomalous data point.


31 posted on 11/19/2006 10:18:03 AM PST by CountryBumpkin
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To: Spktyr
And they'll sit on the large screen version as long as it takes them to get the new hybrid touchscreen right. Unlike MS and the entire satellite industry around Windows, Apple isn't willing to ship something that's half-baked out the door because "market experts" demand that they do it.
Wow, the ignorance of this comment is staggering. Here are a few of Apple computers duds: Don't misinterpret what I am saying; I think Apple makes some fabulous products and I am an iPod owner myself. I just get tired of people treating the two companies (Microsoft and Apple) as if one was operated out of hell and the other one staffed by all-knowing angels. The truth is, Apple is a corporation just like Microsoft. Microsoft has plenty of smart people, and does some pretty innovative things too.

The real danger to innovation is a dearth of competition. Apple is a publicly traded company, in business to make money for the shareholders. Give them a monopoly and they will raise prices and stop spending money on innovation.

32 posted on 11/19/2006 10:18:39 AM PST by Scutter
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To: Scutter
It's the size not the resolution that is important because the video content isn't able to take advantage of any higher resolution. If what you said is true, people would watch standard (not HD) TV on iPod-sized devices. Go Apple Fanboys!

Actually, the iTunes store sells their video at 640x480. They claim it's so that it will look better when you pipe your videos from your iPod to a TV, but most people believe they're just planning ahead for the 6G iPod. My original comment stands: The Zune's screen, while slightly bigger, is no better, and will just stretch many videos out of their aspect ratio.

Go Apple Fanboys? Well, if that's how you wish to define "the entire consumer base of planet Earth," be my guest.

33 posted on 11/19/2006 10:28:50 AM PST by Dont Mention the War (Giuliani '08: Why not p. o. BOTH sides?)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Go Apple Fanboys? Well, if that's how you wish to define "the entire consumer base of planet Earth," be my guest.
No, it's how I define people like you that seem to feel it is some sort of religion rather than just another company selling products.
34 posted on 11/19/2006 11:44:10 AM PST by Scutter
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To: Scutter

Hey, if Microsoft would bother to make a better product, I'd buy it.


35 posted on 11/19/2006 12:16:26 PM PST by Dont Mention the War (Giuliani '08: Why not p. o. BOTH sides?)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Hey, if Microsoft would bother to make a better product, I'd buy it.
I hear ya. Quite frankly, I'd be happy with my current device (a 3G iPod) if I could play the content I purchased from iTMS on other devices (like my Tivo). However, I don't think we'll get there until someone takes away a sizable percentage of Apple's market share. Microsoft is the only company I see with the marketing muscle to pull that off. I also think they are in a good position to leverage their other platforms (XBox, Media Center), assuming Apple doesn't get there first.
36 posted on 11/19/2006 12:23:27 PM PST by Scutter
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To: Scutter
It's the size not the resolution that is important because the video content isn't able to take advantage of any higher resolution.

Uh, at the distances you watch either the Zune's or the iPod's screens, the slightly smaller screen on the iPod would look the same size as the Zune's simply by holding it about 1 inch closer to your eyes. These are not large screen HD TVs, you know.

37 posted on 11/19/2006 12:29:06 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: Scutter

<<
Apple Newton
>>

I use my Newton every day. I especially love the GPS module I use when kayaking.

Msoft does suck. Look at Explorer -- MS has 20 billion in cash and can't hire someone who can read and understand the CSS specification. I do Web design for a living and 50% of my work is making stuff work with that sh*tty Explorer browser.


38 posted on 11/19/2006 1:43:36 PM PST by noblejones (Ben Stein for President, 2008.)
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To: Swordmaker

Zune on Amazon.com Sales Rank: #44 in Electronics (See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/new-for-you/top-sellers/-/electronics/all/ref=pd_dp_ts_e_1/103-9152512-0225443 )

Get this turkey while it’s still getable.

~~~~~~~~~~
Apple holds 4 of the 5 top positions.


39 posted on 11/19/2006 5:42:48 PM PST by Peelod (Decentia est fragilis. Curatoribus validis indiget.)
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To: Swordmaker

Heh heh... and I thought this was another "fear, uncertainty, doubt" article. :'D


40 posted on 11/19/2006 5:59:41 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, November 16, 2006 https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: All

Why can't they both suck?

I really REALLY hate iTunes. I hate how the iTunes music store prevents competition (you can't put music from most other online music stores on your iPod). $.99 a song is a giant rip off. I also thing the way music is organized in Windows Media Player is far superior. I don't understand why that isn't what Zune is using as it's player. Really, the only thing I like about iTunes are podcasts. The only difference between Apple and Microsoft is that one has more money.

I also really hate the click wheel on the iPod. I refuse to believe that there isn't a faster way to scroll through your songs. Once my current iPod bites the dust, I'm going with Creative despite the fact that I'm going to have to convert all my songs from ACC format (another thing I hate about iTunes incidentally).


41 posted on 11/20/2006 1:04:54 AM PST by Stag_Man (NEVER let the people draw their own conclusions. - DUmmie poster.)
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To: Swordmaker

Give Me iPod of Give Me Death!





Take My iPod from My Cold Dead Hand.


42 posted on 11/20/2006 1:08:44 AM PST by trumandogz (Rudy G 2008: The "G" Stands For Gun Grabbing & Gay Lovin.)
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To: Tribune7; KosmicKitty
How much did Microsoft pay for this article?"

"Hundreds of millions of dollars in development and marketing and all I got was this lousy parody"--Bill Gates
43 posted on 11/20/2006 8:17:41 AM PST by newheart (The Truth? You can't handle the Truth. But He can handle you.)
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To: Dont Mention the War

Amen! I don't want no stinkin' FM radio I want my AM talk stations for a diversion.


44 posted on 11/20/2006 7:10:04 PM PST by kmiller1k (remain calm)
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To: Swordmaker

just now for the 'best selling' black Zune-

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #75 in Electronics (See Top Sellers in Electronics)


45 posted on 11/25/2006 11:56:02 AM PST by Peelod (Decentia est fragilis. Curatoribus validis indiget.)
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To: Swordmaker
I’m guessing they didn’t see the survey saying that Brown was the hot new color.

Zune 30 GB Digital Media Player (Brown)

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #499 in Electronics (See Top Sellers in Electronics)

46 posted on 11/25/2006 12:00:36 PM PST by Peelod (Decentia est fragilis. Curatoribus validis indiget.)
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To: Swordmaker
FUNNY BILL GATES CLIP HERE
47 posted on 11/25/2006 12:10:05 PM PST by rxgalfl
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To: Peelod
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #75 in Electronics (See Top Sellers in Electronics)

Sinking like a zune.

hmmmm.... that might catch on.

48 posted on 11/25/2006 1:02:49 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: Peelod
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #499 in Electronics (See Top Sellers in Electronics)

Flushed down the e-toilet like a brown zune...

Another good zinger... I'm getting good at this...

49 posted on 11/25/2006 1:05:33 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: rxgalfl
Funny Bill Gates...

Hilarious. Of course Steve Jobs has had similar presentation problems... just fewer of them.

50 posted on 11/25/2006 1:08:40 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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