High on Vapor Fumes

TechCrunch’s John Biggs, writing about Zune’s Wi-Fi-based “sharing” feature (which feature apparently lets Zune users beam DRM-protected files to each other, which shared files are playable a maximum of three times within three days):

Clearly all the data isn’t in yet, but this definitely pushes the MP3 player out of the pocket and into the realm of social networking. The question, obviously, is what is Apple going to do about this and, as a corrallary [sic], how low Apple and Creative shares are selling as we speak? Perhaps MS could create a “Zune Inside” logo for those guys? Or maybe fund a halfway house for underconnected MP3 players?

If the Zune were already shipping, and people were buying it, and this feature proved to be popular, then, yes, Apple would need to do something about it. Or even if the Zune had just now shipped, and we could actually see this feature and determine that it was actually pretty cool, then, maybe, Apple would need to do something about it. But the Zune is vaporware.

It’s obviously getting closer to release now that they’ve officially announced it and shown what it’s going to look like, but it’s not shipping, and apparently not yet even finished being designed. In an interview with Gizmodo,1 Microsoft’s J Allard said:

Gizmodo: OK, if I’m using a Zune, am I really going to troll Wifi for other people’s music? What is that going to do for battery life?

J Allard: It’s a tough problem, and we’re not done with it yet. What we have is different power modes. Oversimplifying, we have a beacon mode that says “I’m around.” The next level that uses more power says “hey, I want to do something, and share, whether that’s music, photos.”

How about we wait until Microsoft decides “what they’re going to do about” Zune’s Wi-Fi sharing before we start scheduling dance lessons in preparation for a trip to the iPod’s grave?2 As for how low Apple shares are selling as we speak, they broke even for the day and are slightly up for the week.

My questions:

If they’re “not done with it yet”, on September 14, when will they be? How late can they wait to go into production and still hit shelves for the holiday season?

And if this really is a killer feature in a product they honestly expect to ship within the next month or two, why are they talking about it now? Why tip their hand to Apple in advance? Why blow all this media attention before people can actually fork over their money for the thing? Why not go for maximum impact with a “Here it is and you can buy one today!” debut a few weeks from now?

And the most important question of all: Brown?

  1. Completely tangential but interesting nonethess: Gizmodo’s interview with Allard about the Zune was way shorter than arch-rival Engadget’s, but yet I found Gizmodo’s both more interesting and more informative. ↩︎

  2. The “vaporware” charge cuts both ways, of course — it would be just as unfair to ask now for Microsoft’s response to “iTV”. ↩︎