Zune coverage: Today Show’s old iPods, CNN’s new shuffle

Microsoft’s marketing machine has gotten its new Zune media player in front of many eyes this week—from newspaper, web and magazine articles to TV commercials, special events, and coverage on news shows. Two somewhat contrasting Zune segments appeared this week on NBC’s “Today Show” and CNN’s “American Morning.”

The “Today Show” segment, featuring a pre-recorded report by NBC’s Peter Alexander, was impartial in facts, but twice showed the Zune sitting beside an older, fourth-generation iPod with monochrome screen instead of the latest video-capable fifth-generation iPod. Later in the segment, stock footage of an older iPod mini is also used. After Alexander’s report, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Al Roker discuss the Zune, with Lauer saying, “We’re iPod guys.” Roker says the Zune’s wireless features are “Not enough for me” and that the Zune online store is “a little more unwieldy than the iTunes Store.” Lauer ends the segment with a statement about the relationship between NBC and Microsoft. “We should mention that Microsoft and NBC are joint partners in the MSNBC.com website.”

On CNN’s “American Morning,” hosts Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien (no relation) talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times. Sorkin gives an overview of the Zune’s features while holding a Zune and showing it on camera. After the wireless features are downplayed and music compatibility problems are disclosed, the segment takes a turn when Soledad O’Brien pulls out her new second-generation iPod shuffle. “Now that’s the thing that’s a lot sexier than [the Zune],” Sorkin says. “Microsoft in the end will come out with something—I don’t know if it will be that pretty— but something.” Miles O’Brien asks, “Why don’t they get some decent design people to make things look better? It’s clunky.” Sorkin concludes with “No Comment.”

Watch both segments below.

29 thoughts on “Zune coverage: Today Show’s old iPods, CNN’s new shuffle”

  1. I have to agree with bozz, comparing the Zune in appearance to 4th generation iPod (kind of like how Microsoft compares the size of the Zune to a 60/80gb video iPod on their website instead of the 30gb version) is beyond deceiving, it is biased reporting, but I did like that both Lauer and Roker proclaimed themselves iPod guys. I think Lauer was also a bit funny when he prefaced the entire report by stating NBC is partners with Microsoft and in effect giving a wink wink to everyone out there to take the report with a grain of salt.

    I also liked the “no comment” at the end of the CNN report!

    Overall I think Microsoft is afraid to compare apples to apples (or maybe apples to sour grapes!) in any direct advertisement or news release.

  2. So what if MS is pulling out all the misleading stops on it marketing campaign? I do seem to remember that Apple has been guilty of that a number of times. I belive the FTC forced apple to stop a commercial because it was too misleading. As well as their inflated performance numbers for their PowerPC processors. Let the marketers be, we all know they tell lies… Disclosure- I don’t like the Zune and will never get one.

  3. NBC should be fined BIG TIME. Things should start being done about that kind of misleading ‘reporting’.

    The CNN clip however should be streamed and played EVERYWHERE!! I will surely link it to all my PC lovin’ friends.

  4. I totally agree with Brett B., I like my 4G 40 GB iPod more than the Zune, but I also think my other two iPods (1st Genration 512 MB Shuffle and Black 5G 60 GB iPod) are better than the Zune. I see in the future that Microsoft won’t be selling a lot of Zunes. Especially when everyone criticizes it, and I agree with them…

  5. Personally, the whole marketing thing turns me off to both devices. I don’t trust any claims unless I’ve verified them myself or they are confirmed by a trusted tech testing magazine/agency/website.

    In practical experience, I had an iPod, but didn’t like that it did not have a true power down, so that its batteries would drain themselves constantly even sitting in my backpack. Really, I can wait two seconds for the device to boot before I chill to my tunes.

    The Zune, in my research, looks poorly implemented. The installer doesn’t even give you a choice of where to put the software on your computer. The device itself doesn’t look any more robust than the latest iPods… if you drop it, you’re done.

    I’ll stick with my 20Gb Dell DJ. 16 hours of battery life (I tested it), works in the cold, and I don’t have to take off my gloves to use it because it has physical buuttons instead of a touchwheel. Sure, it weighs a couple ounces more than the comparable iPod, but its about the same size, and the HDD is much more shock resistant.

    Too bad Dell stopped making HDD-based DJs; I would have bought another when it comes time to upgrade.

  6. I didn’t think the lack of a “true power down” would be a deal breaker for buying an ipod. I have a first generation nano, which is routinely criticized for its poor battery performence. I didn’t charge it or use it for a few weeks recently but it still was almost fully charged when I checked it. Were you using the “hold” switch when putting the ipod in your backpack so that it wasn’t being used accidently?

  7. can’t believe they used the $G iPod to compare with the new Zune… Biased or what!! just look at any iPods and then look at the zune, it just looks out dated already.

  8. What is even more hilarious are the ‘plants’ that posted obviously suspicious messages on other forums in favour of the Microsoft product. One of them was so contrived and ill-suited it was as if he was talking about a chocolate bar.

    Why is this even newsworthy (apart from forums like this)? This product should be completely ignored.

  9. It wasn’t the FTC, it was Great Britain that forced them to pull the ad. The issue was the claim of the “world’s fastest desktop processor” because rules there are stricter. Since the G5 didn’t win every benchmark as well as the grey area between desktop workstation class computers, Apple was forced to pull the tagline.

    By the way, your entire argument is known as the Ad Numeram Fallacy (Appeal to Common Practice). Just because Apple screwed up doesn’t excuse Microsoft’s faux astroturfing. In the end, it looks like they got burned.

    Looks like the big MS should concentrate on making a better product, instead of marketing a worse one.

  10. I think Miles summed it up when he said “Clunky”.
    The zune is exremely clunky. I’m still in love with my ipod, this whole zune thing is wishful thinking on their part.

  11. How come whenever someone expresses a desire to own equipment that works, or advises someone not to buy a piece of crap, they’re called “Apple fanboy?”

  12. Since when was a Dell DJ “about the same size” as an iPod? My friend’s DJ is clearly thicker than my other friend’s 60 GB Photo.

    And my iPod(s) have taken nasty falls before, and both still work perfectly (although my photo does have a dent on the back due to the crappy case I had). Not to mention that the scrollwheel thingy on the DJ is a bit awkward to use.

  13. It’d be humiliating for Zune, design wise, if they had put it side by side with the new nano and new 5G. Even so, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the 5.5G iPod with the Zune. iPod is still in the stage of an enhanced music player, while Zune obviously leans towards a portable media center. Apple has never officially claimed the 5G as a “video player”. The true video iPod has yet to come. Wait until then and compare it with Zune.
    Music playing: come on, admit it. The iPod navigation is much much more easier to use and more functional too.
    Video playing: as I said, video playback is just a bonus feature of the iPod. But personally, while on the road, 2.5′ and 3′ screens aren’t that much different. I just need something to watch.

  14. How is the iPod not rugged? I’ve had my origional 5 gigabyte iPod with the scrollwhell that physically moves for a little over 5 years.
    In that course of time, it’s sustained me accidentaly stepping on it while running with it, being thrown across the room by my brother, falling 3 stories onto pavement (The case just popped open – I just had to clip it back on itself), and being covered in snow. And I’ve just recently bought an 80 Gig ipod video and It’s already been dropped twice and, again, stepped on by my little sister. I doubt the DJ could live up to those tests.

  15. Hello..? Anyone know what the MS in MSNBC stands for..?
    Anyone wonder why the ‘Welcome to the social’ tag line was in prime view on the front of the desk of Today..?

  16. Funny how all the videos I’ve seen the zune playing on TV spots have been widescreen… and have black bars top and bottom..! You’d think that to push the ‘bigger screen’ idea they’d use something that *filled* the screen..!

  17. I am fairly upset with NBC for trying that underhanded attack at the iPod for comparing a original 4th gen iPod (which came out well over 2 YEARS ago in July 2004) to their new player. What, they couldn’t find ANYONE that had a 5th gen video iPod to show off? It is actually hard to find people with those type of 4th gen ones now.

    “The Today Show”, you make me sick.

  18. Yesterday me and my dad went to a CompUSA. I saw the Zune and wasn’t really impressed. The first thing my dad said when he saw the Zune was that it was bulky. As for Today, I am really stunned to see them use the iPod mini and the 4G iPod in comparison to the Zune. They should have pitted one against the other to be fair.


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