Hey, Microsoft — I’m going to throw you a freebie. Not even going to charge you for this one.
With the Zune coming, I have a sure-fire way that you can create an even bigger buzz around the device once it releases. But before I get to that, one word of advice…..
Don’t go telling everybody everything before you even release the product! If you just hold it until two weeks before a product’s release date, we’ll actually be able to make silly impulse purchases based on our insaitiable need to act on the viral marketing. But if you spill your guts in July for a product that doesn’t release until November? Well, let me just say, “Not what I would have done.”
OK, back to the freebie. Here’s an area that I’m sure you can capitalize on and that Apple isn’t thinking about changing. The earbuds.
Now, after Jay Allard came through on a promise to deliver a truly well thought out end-user experience, I’m a bit of a believer. So I’m hoping that somewhere in that bunker in Redmond with iPods strewn across tables and under microscopes that someone has realized just how poor the sound quality of the iPod can be if you use the pack-in earbuds. They’re uncomfortable. They’re an invitation to theft. And worst of all, they sound horrible.
So, what am I proposing? (Glad you asked!) I love the Koss Porta Pro headphones. I’ve been wearing them since the 90s and there are probably better pairs of headphones available for the price. They provide a great mix of sound quality, portability and comfort. Now, I know that you need to create a solution that is both cost-effective and sound great, so I searched and came across this link on the Koss site for an over the ear-style pair style comparable to the Porta Pros. Now when you mention that the cost per unit goes up, I’m sure that you’re leadership is going to be upset, and might even run around screaming, but trust me, they’ll thank you later.
In all seriousness, this could be a huge differentiator. If the pack in headphones were of a higher quality and caused the sound output to improve, rumor might get started among folks that “the Zune sounds better than the iPod”. (Even though it’s the headphones that are making the difference.) And don’t think for one second that Steve Jobs is considering abandoning those white buds. (Well, he could upgrade them.) But it will be seen as totally reactionary.
I’ve got other ideas about how you might be able to pull this thing out. (Maybe make the earbuds a unique color other than white — you chose pretty tough colors to work with for the logo. Pink and orange earbuds? (But then we’d be back to the problem of having an easy target for robbers.) Aw, what the heck. I’d say go for it. You need to take chances at this point.