The Zune Conspiracy, Theory #1
Microsoft released their iPod competitor the Zune, or at least that’s what everything things it is. I have two theories (conspiracy theories of course, full tin-foil hat engaged) about what the nefarious plans for the Zune really are however, and they both include the fact that the Zune was never meant to be a serious competitor in the iPod space.
Part of the deal that Microsoft struck to get their Zune store up and running was to pay universal music $1 for every unit sold. Not only is that a bit offensive to me, as it basically is saying that anyone who buys a Zune is going to pirate music, so Universal is going to get it’s shake, but it also presents potential problems to Apple.
Because the record industry has now seen that it can get manufacturers of MP3 players to pay on a per unit basis as well as taking a cut from the online music sales, they will no doubt pursue this avenue when their contracts with Apple need re-negotiation. Why accept butter on only one side of the bread when you can have two? Aren’t these the same guys who tried (unsuccessfully) to get Apple to raise the prices of songs in the iTunes Music Store from $0.99 to $2.99 or so for newer releases, and create a sliding scale of “new music costs more”?
What’s to say that Microsoft was looking at what it would take to compete with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store and found that the only way they could license music was to give the record companies a cut of each unit sold. Obviously they’d know that by doing this that a precedent would be set for the next time that this happened. I’m willing to guess that they are well aware of the slim margins that you get on not only the hardware sales but the online music store as well (I’ve heard that apple barely gets more than a few cents out of each $.99 purchase, and from experience I know that selling hardware sucks, and I doubt that a huge amount of an iPod sale is profit).
Wouldn’t you see this as a chink in the Apple monopoly of music players? Force Apple to get less profit by convincing the people that Apple deals with that they need more of a cut on hardware?
I’m just sayin’…