Dell’s Zing will challenge iTunes with a coalition of the willing

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So far, Dell’s plans for its new Zing buy out have been DAP pedestrian: a new line of iPod killers to sink into the morass of indistinguishable, non-iPod MP3 players. But according to a new story in Business Week, we shouldn’t be paying attention to their Dell DJ successor… the eponymous Zing of Dell’s new music iniative is all in the software.

The idea is great: Dell has 120 engineers working on an iTunes competitor that will be open to everyone short of Apple. The platform will be shared: download music from Napster or Amazon, no problem. In other words, Zing will be a broad standard, allowing the numerous alternative music sites to overlap their shields and take on the iTunes juggernaut head on. The word Business Week forges to describe Zing is an ubermarket where you can buy a song off of Amazon and send it to a friend’s satellite radio. “Apple wants to lock you in,” says Robert Enderle, a consultant who has been briefed by Dell. “Dell wants to lock you in to choice.”

At first, Zing will simply be a software package shipped on Dell computers and netbooks starting in September (perhaps the Mini-Inspiron will be the first host of a Zing client). This will be followed early next year by a couple of Zing-supported MP3 players. There’s no word on how Zing will interact with existing MP3 players, but surely there’s a solution already being worked on if the software will precede the hardware by months.

Dell pulling this off would be great for consumers: every piddling afterthought DAP software package, each insignificant iTunes music store alternative pulled together. Unfortunately, Dell doesn’t have a great history here, but the head of Zing, Tim Bucher, has an Apple background. Maybe he’s just the man to hobble iTunes strangle hold on the digital music market while redeeming Dell.

Dell vs. Apple: Why It May Be Personal [Business Week]

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4 Responses to Dell’s Zing will challenge iTunes with a coalition of the willing

  1. Downpressor says:

    “Apple wants to lock you in,” says Robert Enderle, a consultant who has been briefed by Dell. “Dell wants to lock you in to choice.”

    Now THAT is some classic doublespeak!

    /me applauds wildly

  2. jonathanpeterson says:

    There are already “standards” that are more open than Apple. MP3, MP4A, OGG, etc.

    I’ve used sansas with Zing’s launchcast connection – pretty cool. Until a song just stops playing, while still taking up space on your MP3 player.

    At best Zing is going to do is make it possible for customers to move content from one crappy DRM standard to another. Swapping one master for a set of masters who will deliver least common denominator functionality isn’t going to fix anything. The problem with digital music isn’t Apple’s iTunes monopoly, it’s the music industry’s inability to figure out a way to work together to deliver a quality experience to customers.

  3. markfrei says:

    There are lots of standards but here is what is lacking (now that Rio is gone, at least):
    1) gapless
    2) open standards support (Ogg, FLAC, etc)
    3) decent sound quality – meaning decent converters.

    I’m still not sure why no one can do this – when my Rio got smashed, I was left with nothing in the market to replace the functionality I lost. Vibez was supposed to do this, but as far as I can tell they don’t exist anymore. I gave up after half a year of backorder for one. Now I’m wondering if my only choice is Apple or Zune if I want gapless… that like devil and the deep blue sea to me.

  4. Moon says:

    The iPod really sucks.

    Slow transfer times, that huge wheel that the slightest bump sets off when it’s in your pocket.

    I liked my Dell DJ, it was just too small (30GB doesn’t do it anymore) and it didn’t have video.

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