I was talking to a friend at work yesterday who I was surprised to find out was "really getting into podcasts." She isn't a technically savvy person (I've had to help her with PowerPoint) so I was shocked to hear her regale me with a list of her favorites podcasts, including the excellent National Geographic collection. She explained that she found them all on iTunes and then began to tell me how much she loved her iPod. I showed her my new Sandisk Sansa player, which is easily the best Media player I've used to date, which she thought was cool, but she thought for "non-techies" like her, the iPod was the way to go. I asked what she meant and she said "The iPod is just so easy to use." I showed her how I plug my Sansa into the PC, Rhapsody pops up, and I start dragging and dropping music onto it. "How is the iPod easier than that?" She stuck by her story that non-techies should get iPods. "But isn't that exactly what you do with your iPod?" She just shook her head and said "iPods are just easier."
So I thought about it and realized that the truth really doesn't matter in fashion. iPods have the perception of being simple so they're simple. Never mind the fact that these days there are many media players just as simple and with less gotchas and hardware issues than iPods. It doesn't matter. iPods are simple.
As Microsoft prepares to roll out its new Zune Media player I hope they realize this. Brand the Zune as the "simple choice." Downlplay the features, and focus on its simplicity. Keep the Zune music store and the transfer process simple. Simple, simple, simple. Run it through the "Mom" process. Can my Mom use it? Does my Mom get it? If not, start over.