Yesterday Microsoft launched the long-awaited Zune HD. By all reports, this is a pretty nice device with a large 3.3 inch OLED screen with HD video and HD radio playback. As a media player, it offers access to a limited App Store and a very nice $15 all-you-can-eat monthly music subscription service. It looks like Microsoft put a lot of thought into the design, and at the very least, I wanted to get my hands on one at Best Buy and take it for a spin. Yet in spite of these unusually fuzzy feelings for a Microsoft product, our friends in Redmond found a way to undermine them. Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has chosen to run pre-roll ads prior to launching its handful of free apps. Seriously Microsoft? Ads? Really?! What are these people thinking?
Zune Hasn't Been the Biggest Success
If you've followed Microsoft's foray into the MP3 player market, the results to this point haven't been pretty (as I wrote in my most popular post ever: Zune and iPod: The Tale of Two MP3 Players), but the Zune HD with its sexy redesign has some serious potential. It's reasonably priced and according to this review from CNET provides a very nice user experience. I found the original Zunes to be clunky looking, but this one looks sleek and cool like somebody would really want to own one.
Do You Need a Few Extra Bucks?
Given the time and thought, the company obviously put into this new product, the ads make little sense to me because people generally hate ads, and they really, really hate pre-roll ads. It's going to make people upset that Microsoft has chosen to roll an ad in exchange for a free app. I know, it's free, and maybe they *can* make some money here, but the question is *should* they? I don't think so. Last I heard, even with this economy, Microsoft was a cash-rich company. Don't forget they were ready to pay $44 billion for Yahoo! at one point.
I really don't think they have to nickel and dime their customers in this instance for a few bucks in ad revenue. It undermines the company's credibility (yet again) and there's no good reason to do it. Do they have a right to do it? Absolutely. Is it smart? Not really.
Why Kill The Good Will?
I'm just one blogger. I'm sure there are people who don't give a rat's pattuti that Microsoft included the ads. In fact, I'm not Microsoft's target market, and I'm probably not going to buy a Zune HD no matter how nice it might be. I've already got an iPhone and I don't need another device to run apps or play media. I know that the ads probably won't be a deal killer for most people if they want this device, but they sure were a good buzz killer, and Microsoft needs all the positive vibes it can get right now.