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As one of the powerhouses in the technology industry, most people think Microsoft has an, almost, absolute power to stay relevant in the market, making Microsoft automatically has a great ability to adapt in the market itself. However, even Microsoft has their downs, including the inability to adapt in the market, resulting few of its products are called a failure. In this report, a deeper look of Microsoft’s failure to adapt will be seen from one of its products, in which the cause was beaten by already-established rival, resulting in the products’ downfall: Zune.
What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the word “digital music player”? Most people, over the years, linked the term with Apple’s iPod. Ever since 2004, Apple already dominated the digital music player industry, making Apple the sole powerhouse (Ziberg, 2012). Did Apple have challengers and competitors? They did, in fact, have a competitor who came from tech industry’s incumbent, which is none other than Microsoft.
Have you ever heard the word “Zune”? If you have not, it is probably because it did not make its name out there either. Zune is Microsoft very own digital music player, released on late 2006, with the name Zune 30. Zune actually has a dual meaning, one the music player gadget itself and the other is the software which complement the gadget (Wikipedia, 2018).
Before it met its fate as a discontinued gadget, Zune had several versions in their line with. There are four generations and seven types in the short-lived Zune history (Wikipedia, 2018), which includes:
The ancestor of the Zune device had its own signature, which is brown coloured and bulky sized device. This Zune generation and all of its predecessors has the same main feature which is sharing songs with other Zune users via wireless technology, which on that time the wireless technology is not common yet. Sadly, this feature has its weakness which is the limit of three times on three days for the songs that were transferred.
The updates on this generation include the different size of the memory capacity of the device and the Zune Pad which is known in being sensitive for its user touch.
The only update in this generation is the device’s memory sizes which one of them is the largest size for a music player gadget ever released.
Not like its ancestors which use the Zune Pad, the Zune HD was already a touchscreen device.
Coming from the industry incumbent, it must be a wonder why the gadget could be a massive failure as it had the same features and competencies as Apple’s iPod and it too had many resources from the company backing the gadget up (St., 2009). Where did it go wrong? What possibly happened to the Zune that made it failed hopelessly? From this report we are going to learn about what happened and, maybe, Microsoft can learn from the mistake too.
Before it met its fate as a discontinued gadget, Zune had several versions in their line, four generations and seven types precisely (Wikipedia, 2018), which includes:
To help understanding the problem better, SCQ Analysis tool is going to be used in this report and KIA Analysis will be following after. The analysis is as follow:
The key question “What were the causes of Zune’s failure in beating iPod?” can be broken down into several issues as follows:
Hypotheses: Zune failed to beat iPod as it was always late in releasing its product.
Analysis: Zune did not fall without a fight. Based on the introduction on previous chapter, Zune released several types of its kind every year started from the year 2006 until 2009 which resulted in four generations and seven types of the Zune Device. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s efforts were not enough, almost unimpactful even. If being compared with the digital music player powerhouse, Zune was always late to the party (Covert, 2011). It, almost, always released its product two years after its equivalent product in iPod brand had released. For the exact comparison.
It would be acceptable if Zune came late once or twice, even if it meant the gate-opener product was the one launched late. Shockingly, Microsoft managed to release all of the Zune devices late, making the products irrelevant to the market at that point.
Hypotheses: Zune did not even get a chance to shine because it had no outstanding differences which differ it from iPod.
Analysis: In general, every ever-existed Zune generation’s specification and that of iPod’s are pretty much the same. Obviously, they have different kind of approach in their products’ styling (Malley, 2017), like the menu’s interface (Zune is more focused in typography design, even have the font patented) or as simple as they outer looks, Zune’s is bolder while iPod’s is chicer (Costello, 2018). Zune had several features which were not in the iPod and could be counted as Zune’s few strengths, one of them was the Wi-Fi feature, which was way advanced for the time thus making the feature unnecessary, more over for a digital music player.
Hypotheses: Zune was not expensive but it was not cheap either, moreover if being compared to iPod, making its competitive potential even lesser.
Analysis: With its equivalent product, Zune was relatively cheaper compared to iPod. But then, every Zune product and their equivalent had a gap of at least 2 years in release date. From that point, relatively cheaper was not really an option as it really should had been way cheaper.
To be more precise, the two products’ prices are going to be compared based on their release dates too. Both of the products’ prices were relatively in the same range. With specifications much more upgraded, iPod infallibly won the price competition.
The three key issues mentioned were affecting the sales of the Zune devices. The sales barely reached Microsoft’s target as Zune only hold 3% of the market share initially (Robins, 2009), the highest was 4%, when iPod hold a total of 71% (Kreps, 2009). If being compared to iPod’s sales, only one word could describe the situation: tragic.
iPod’s sales over the year were fluctuating dynamically with many high peaks, whereas Zune’s sales barely even touched iPod’s lowest sale. Even on its last year of existence, Zune’s sales were stagnantly low (Pingdom, 2009) making Microsoft was not sad with the farewell.
There are three hypotheses from the key question “What were the causes of Zune’s failure in beating iPod?” which were broken down into three key issues. The hypotheses are:
The answer of these hypotheses actually can be seen from the voice of the market alone. Microsoft’s bravery might need to be applauded as they entered a market where there was already a dominant player, but unfortunately, bravery alone, and even a brand power, are insufficient to be used as a ground to challenge the powerhouse, let alone stays for long in an industry.
No matter how powerful the brand power of a company is, the quality and the mentality to make the product as the best one in the market will always be needed. Companies need to:
Consumers, of course chose iPod over Zune bcs blablablablabla. As can be seen from this report, the hypotheses are proven and Zune did not deliver the things mentioned above, resulting in its failure to not only beat iPod, but also the failure to stay in the digital music player market. In short, Zune was failed to adapt because it did not serve the customers’ needs as they were beaten by iPod. So long, Zune, your absence will (not) be missed.
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