Microsoft has finally released the so long waited new competitor for the iPod: the Zune has been on sale since earlier this month. It also tries to deliver many of the goods that the iPod users are used to for years now: a hard-drive-based mp3 player, with lots of storage space, a nice screen for music info and even movies.
So, what is the best of the two? Although I don't think this question can be completely settled in rational terms (think of all the programming languages wars, or editor wars, or the operating system wars...) we can try to give a few reasons why the iPod will still be leading the pack during the next few years.
- Better integration with external devices: with millions of devices following the iPod standard, from cars to clothing, you will have a much better chance of playing your music from an iPod than from anything else in the market.
- Well tested: the iPod has been around for more than five years, it has been stressed to the maximum by millions of people. The Zune might be pretty good, but few people really know if it works well.
- Integration with iTunes: one of the main reasons why the iPod is such a satisfying product is the great software running on the desktops. The iTunes is without question one of the best music players and organizers that has ever been written. Microsoft, on the other hand, has the tradition of designing clumsy, unreliable software. If you are looking for something really easy to use, you will probably keep with the iPod-iTunes combination.
Of course, things can change over time. It is completely possible that Microsoft will bridge the gap over the next years. However, even then some people will still prefer the simple quality of the products delivered by Apple. In other words, as with the Mac, the iPod will probably always getter a large number of followers.
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