Microsoft's latest music venture, MSN Mobile Music, has been yet another lost attempt by the software giant to topple (or at least try to) Apple's popular and lucrative iTunes service.
But by the looks of it, Steve Jobs won't have to rush back to work. The company even went as far as making our tasks easy by making so many sloppy choices.
(1) Too Restrictive
First and foremost, while the main players in the online music distribution sector are turning their backs on digital rights management, Microsoft is still sticking to this much-hated way of restricting the way consumers "use" their music files. Apple and others have already abandoned DRM. Why Microsoft is using DRM-infected files remains a mystery.
(2) Microsoft is extraordinarily candid
The interview of Hugh Griffiths, Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK by Barry Collins of PC Pro shows how candid (or disconnected) some senior management staff at the world's biggest software company are. When asked by Collins "If I buy these songs on your service - and they're locked to my phone - what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?", Griffiths answered "Well, I think you know the answer to that."
(3) Too Expensive
Most of the tracks are available for £1.50 which is much higher than what you would find on Amazon, Apple, Play or many other online music distribution websites. Microsoft's strategy of counting on MSN users to behave like fleeced sheep is bound to fail as they are not restricted. They will just go elsewhere and Microsoft will have to adjust their price point.
(4) Limited choices
There are only one million tracks on offer on MSN Mobile music. Amazon has more than three million songs plus loads of audio books from Audible. iTunes in comparison has more than 10 million songs worldwide and tens of thousands of music videos, podcasts and audio books.
(5) Goes Through A Third party
All of the issues above seem to be related to the fact that they are using a third party - in this case Vidzone digital media - to provide them with the necessary structure to start such a project. The result is bland, expensive and very much underwhelming; what any quick fix would look like. Microsoft should just get its act together and go direct or do like Nokia and give out unlimited tracks for a fixed monthly fee.
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Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division is buoyed by the Xbox for the time being. Other than gaming, the Zune positively lacks oomph and is squarely overshadowed by Apple's iPod range. Similarly, Windows Mobile platform appears to be underpowered and lagging well behind the rest of the competition. Microsoft needs to get its act together and stop launching services like MSN Mobile music when so many better alternatives exist on the market.