Yep, I did it. A certified Microsoft fanboy went against everything he believes and bought an iPod Touch. I’ve moved towards the darkside and while it hurts a bit, there are reasons for it. I thought this would be a good opportunity to, not review the Touch, but explain how people’s views can change and the reasons behind it. First is a little history.
I’ve been a Zune owner since the Zune80 was released. I liked the fact that it was from MS since I use a lot of their products in my home and the fact that 80GB was a ton of space for music. At the time, that was my concern. Music and podcasts. Video was there as well but was more secondary to the audio side. A lot has changed since the Zune was introduced. It’s now possible to have something much more than just a music/video/podcast player and the fact is that Microsoft hasn’t kept up with the Joneses.
Once the Zune HD was released, I knew I’d be looking to pick up a new portable device. At this point the iPod Touch had been around awhile. For the most part I had dismissed it as nothing more than another player with some fancy apps. I still didn’t feel the need to move away from my Microsoft universe especially considering that much of my music was in WMA format, something not supported by the iPod. MS lost me though when they saw one of the main reasons the iPod Touch was so popular yet ignored it. Apps.
Apps, apps, apps. I’ve gone from having a portable media player to having what amounts to a very small computer in the palm of my hand. I use the Touch for:
- Xbox Live messaging
- Blog comment moderation
- Ordering prescriptions for my son
- Windows Media Center remote control
And these are just the apps I’ve installed. That’s not taking into account web surfing, music and podcasts or video if I so desire. What could you do with a Zune HD?
- Twitter (one choice)
- Weather (one choice)
- Piano (??)
- Choice of 12 games
That’s it. Somehow, Microsoft misses the fact that app developers for the Touch and iPhone are not only making money themselves, but drawing people to the platform. The apps I use are only a small sample. The fact is there are literally over 100,000 available in the App Store and that has to be the biggest reason that people continue to buy iPods instead of Zune HDs. The biggest irony is that Apple’s product, due to 3rd party development, is BETTER than Microsoft’s at working inside the Microsoft ecosystem! I have an app that allows me to send messages on Xbox Live and another that will remote control my Microsoft Windows Media Center home theater PC!
Pretty big flip so far right? When it comes to PMPs, Microsoft sucks and Apple rules? Not quite. While Apple has done a fantastic job with the hardware and platform, they can’t write PC software for the device to save their lives. iTunes is the most piggish, worthless platform I’ve ever seen. It’s a dog when it’s running but that’s only until it crashes. Granted, I’m running it on a slower PC, however, I have never had trouble running the Zune software on the same hardware. It’s faster, easier to navigate, and just plain nicer looking. If I could have an iPod Touch and use the Zune software to keep it synced, I’d be in PMP heaven.
As well, the Touch isn’t perfect. I don’t like the fact that I can only run one app at a time. This means that I can’t run Slacker Radio and check email or send a tweet while listening to Pandora. I understand the underlying reason for this but I hate it. Also, I can’t stand the fact that my podcasts are trapped under music. They should have their own button making them easier to get to. Little things I know, but they bug me.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t totally succumb to the charms of Apple. You’ll still never see a Macbook in my home nor an Apple TV under our HD. But when it comes to PMPs, the company had really done something right. While Apple typically runs a very closed ecosystem (and do even with the Touch and iPhone) they’ve opened the platform up just enough to make it so that you can use the device for pretty much anything you want. For once, Microsoft is the one with the closed ecosystem. And they wonder why no one is jumping on board.
To be honest I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t keep Zune as my choice in portable media players. It seems at times as though everyone has had a taste of the Apple koolaid lately and I have tried to stay away from it. Once in awhile however, the crowd actually points the way to the best option. In this case the best (current) option is the iPod Touch. I’ve been extremely satisfied with my experience so far and while I know I’m late to get on the train, well, even us old dogs can learn new tricks.