A look back at the Zune 30 problem and how it was handled

As promised by Microsoft’s Zune Team, my Zune 30 came back to life from it’s one day slumber.  The ‘bricking’ of the first gen Zune’s was widely reported yesterday.  Mainstream news organizations from Fox News to CNN as well as the tech press all reported on the problem, with varying degrees of sarcasm.  Engadget was probably the worst. Surprisingly, TUAW-an Apple oriented site-was pretty easy on the Zune issue and, in fact, pointed out date related problems for a few Apple products. If they harshed on Zune more than that, I did not see it.  I was far more harsh than TUAW was, which is ironic in itself: I’m a huge Microsoft fan while they, obviously, are not.

The mainstream press, though, probably did more damage to Zune’s reputation.  Several stories that I read implied that the problem affected ALL Zunes.  It was only at the end of one article where it was stated that the problem was specific to just the first gen model and then only those that had been updated.  Which, by the way, makes me wonder…I saw several people in the forums say that they had the 2.5 firmware and were bricked.  Anyone know if that is true?

One huge take away from this incident is that there are way more first gen owners out there than many thought.  While the problem should not have ever taken place, at least Microsoft can comfort itself in knowing that they do, in fact, have many, many loyal Zune owners.  The majority of the posts I read were in the ‘I just want my Zune to work’ camp and not the ‘I’m buying an iPod’ camp.  I saw more than a few say ‘I’m getting the 80gb’.  I think I’m in that camp.  I want a black 80gb.

Even though I was pretty rough on the Zune Team, and I still think the solution could have been better communicated, I want to throw out a kudos to them.  They took a tremendous amount of heat yesterday and did not throw in the towel on a product that has, essentially, been dead since the second gen Zune came out.  How many companies would have jumped into action to support a product that is no longer manufactured?  Somehow, I’m not sure many would.  I suspect the answer might have been ‘just buy a new one.’  Microsoft has not forgotten those of us who bought the first gen Zune.  Hopefully, now that they know how passionate it’s customer’s can be, they won’t stop.

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