In Defense of the Zune HD2

NOTE: So, I actually have written about this ill fated successor to the HD. You can find that right here. But this isn't gaining much traction, so I would like to start a "grassroots" movement and get this device made. The importunity for an "Xbox Portable" with Windows Phone 7 is so obvious that I feel that Microsoft is blind.  Ready for a journey down "Futility Lane?"

THE OBVIOUS

I have been a Zune HD user for about two years, and it is what I would call a sexy gadget. When in public, I pull out my Zune and nearly all who see it ask what device I have. It is hard not to comment on a PMP as good looking as this; it has an air of elegance that you wouldn't find on many Microsoft devices. Even through two years of wear and tear, my HD is keeping steady; there are limited scuff marks and scratches on the glass. It resembles almost everything Microsoft isn't; sexy, efficient, and lust worthy.

When I answer those who inquire about the HD, they say one thing: Microsoft made that?

The Zune HD is elegant and satisfying, but is hampered by one major flaw; it doesn't have a 2 at the end of its name.

IN DEFENSE OF THE ZUNE HD2

Zune_hd_wp7_thumb_medium

WP7 is nearing a phase where there is an air of optimism; Nokia just released their first phone and Mango is doing quite well for itself. But this isn't translating to  sales, and the consumer phone market is a tough market to take away others market share. The non techies that have an iPhone are unlikely to go out and buy a new WP7 unless they've had second hand experience. But you know what still has a chance for market awareness? The cheap PMP market!

Dedicated PMP's might be on the downward spiral to oblivion, but the desire for a consumption device is red hot. People want a cheap, affordable touch iPod Touch to get their fill of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and, uhm, Angry Fruit. There is still a market to be had with affordable, non phone touch screen devices, and Microsoft can fill a gap. That gap's name is the cheap iPod Touch wannabe.

I own an HP Touchpad, and the hype around the 99 dollar tablet was quite literally earth shaking. Seriously, people didn't even know what they were buying, but they thought "Hey, this is like the iPad but way cheaper! I'll take 12!" Obnoxious consumer stereotypes aside, all they knew was that they were getting a deal. The Zune HD2 can be like that too. Christmas is rolling around and the thrifty parents of the world want to give their children a present. Have you heard the joke about the iPod and the Zune? Let me tell it for you: What's the difference between a Zune HD2 and an iPod anyways? 100 Dollars.

Another advantage of a Zune HD2 is the ability to convert those unwilling to jump ship from Android or the iPhone. Cell phones aren't a "dip your feet in the water" proposition; it's all in or nothing. One of the reason the iPhone has been successful and popular is because people have iPod touches and can get familiar with the software from making a blind leap into uncharted territory. The Zune HD2 would allow non data plan users, such as myself, to test our Microsoft's mobile darling without actually needing a data plan.  And when the time comes for people to actually get data plans, they already are familiar with an WP7. It's a win- win!

HOW TO BUILD THE HD2 IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS

The Zune HD is lacking in some areas, and with the help of Windows Phone 7 and a few new hardware tweaks, we could be set for success.

  1. ADD WINDOWS PHONE 7| This is a pretty important step, and Microsoft can take out the phone bits of the OS and turn it into  a perfectly acceptable consumption device.
  2. ADD CAMERAS| I don't mean any low res camera. I want a high quality back camera, suitable for the regular Facebook update or TwitPic. Make sure a front facing camera is there, too. Skype is a necessary tool for step 4.
  3. NOKIA OR BUST| Utilize that partnership, Microsoft! Nokia's Lumina could be a perfect outer shell for the Zune HD2. I love the HD's original style, but the Lumina fits so well with the Windows Phone aesthetic that Nokia can provide. Windows Phone Apollo is supposed to be for low range devices, and the $99 price point could match perfectly with Apollo and Nokia's famous budget devices. Low price point+ Lumina hardware+ Apollo= Success. Which leads me to my final step.
  4. SUCCESS THY NAME IS MARKETING| Microsoft, you need to put your full force into marketing the hell out of this thing. And I don't mean having some old white guy dance to techno! I mean actual, convincing, app touting marketing. People can recognize an iPod Touch from the commercials. Lets make the reborn Zune a success, shall we?

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK

The Zune HD2 should be produced. The Touchpad showed there is a market for cheap non-Apple devices, and the Zune has a chance to bring itself and WP7 up to the top. Whether it is now (please be now) or in 2012, the Zune HD2 should and will be made. Starting Today, I wan't to welcome you back to the social.