Some would argue that big Apple-like events tell us the most about our favorite companies. They argue that during giant press events we get to see just what they are made of. We receive some kind of glimpse into how they think they’re services and devices fit together.
That’s total crap, I say. If you want to really see what your favorite tech companies are all about. Pay no attention to what they think requires a giant media spectacle, look for what doesn’t. Last week the good folks in Redmond became a prime example of that. I’m of course talking about the Bing/Zune integration and upgrades made to Zune.net
Yes, it was confusing trying to figure out just what they had done with all that downtime and yes, giving your users a two hour notice before you take down a service is possibly one of the worst things you can do while to users of a subscription music service but let’s take a look at the changes they’ve made.
Remember back when Zune.net was just a place to find out about the Zune 30 and Zune Marketplace? I do, which is why the upgrades they have made to Zune.net makes me want to go back to 2006 and smack the person who thought waiting to do something like this was a good idea. Zune.net now has more music discovery tools then iTunes, an online music subscription service (hi ya Rhapsody!), and (what should put the good folks at Amazon on notice) an online DRM free MP3 store. Suddenly without the Zune software I can stream music, purchase mp3s, learn about other artists, and share said music with anyone. That isn’t just brilliant; it’s walking in the door and smacking brilliance in the face to take his arm chair.
So what do iTunes, Amazon, Last.FM, Rhapsody, and Walmart have in common? They are all Zune.net competitors now. Microsoft has taken what parts work for each music retailer and mashed them together to form a formidable opponent. Why go to Amazon and pay for an mp3 only to need to Last.FM to discover more music I want to buy? It would seem to me that they’ve got solid thinking on what comes next.
What makes it more interesting is that they didn’t need a press event to do any of this. They didn’t require the company leader to make a giant push and convince people that change is good. No talking points on how this will “Change everything, again”. If the busy season isn’t until this fall you have to ask yourself. If these are the innovations you are making without largely publicizing it, what have you got up your sleeves for this fall that is?