I love my Zune. It’s small, and great at what it does: play music. With my Zune Pass music subscription, I can slurp up just about any song from the Zune Marketplace for a flat rate of $15 a month. I am also growing to quite appreciate my shiny new iPad. My friends and family often see me as a die-hard Microsoft buff, but I know better than that. My brother once jokingly accused me of Microsoft fanboy-ism for showing him an article about some Microsoft Research project. I was viewing the webpage in my browser of choice, Google Chrome.
Even with all its limitations, my iPad hooks into my Windows- and Microsoft-dominated world quite nicely. I have hundreds of ripped DVDs on my Windows Home Server for viewing on my Xbox 360 through Media Center Extender. Do I also want to view those videos curled up in bed with my iPad? To quote Apple’s less-than-meek advertising slogan, “There’s an app for that.” While I hate, hate, hate Apple’s uncanny ability to command attention, that doesn’t mean they don’t make some pretty nifty products.
Why do I have a picture of my iPad and Zune making hearts to each other? It just so happens that I want to download an album that isn’t available on the Zune Marketplace. Checking Amazon MP3, I discovered that the album wasn’t available there either. What about iTunes? I tapped open the iTunes app on my iPad, and sure enough there it is. What’s great about DRM-free music? I can download a song from iTunes, on my iPad, and sync it over to my Zune. (I would say this is interoperability at its finest, but I suspect to have a less-than-satisfactory user experience with iTunes on Windows.)
The point, however, is that less and less consumers are having to choose sides. Mac or PC? The real issue is AAC or OOG, or why not support both? The platform is losing significance. Microsoft Exchange, a protocol for synchronizing email, calendar, and contacts, is available on Windows Phones, Android Phones, and iPhones. The protocol itself is being served up not just by enterprises in business-type scenaros, but also for consumers. Gmail, for example, offers Exchange support for free. When every platform speaks a common set of protocols and file formats, something customers shouldn’t have to bother worrying about anyway, customers can more easily mix-and-match different devices and services. A year ago got a Windows Mobile phone because it would easily synchronies with my Windows Live Mail. Now, however, the phone and the email service can easily be interchanged independently, since both pieces can speak Exchange. (side note: yes, yes, IMAP exists blah blah. That only synchronizes email.)
How long until there’s a Zune app for iOS? What about a PlayStation Home app for Windows Phone? Arguably the latter is more likely to happen, but all is possible in the magical world of technology.