Bryan Lee, the soon to be former Vice President of Microsoft entertainment will leave the big Butterfly in the next few weeks. Lee was the leader in charge of the Zune device release last November.
While the device did make it to market, it was not a blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination. Better WiFi media players were on the market 2 years ago. However, Microsoft did try and it was Lee’s experience coming out of Sony that the Butterfly counted on to come up with a way to sell Zune’s.
iTunes sales do not make Apple much money, but the availability of the music inspires people in part to buy their MP3 players and deal with the ludicrous exclusivity of file formats that only work on iPods. So Microsoft should have had a leg up on Apple with a device that would not provide such a closed system, until they closed the wireless system.
The device could not download songs intuitively from the internet and songs that were shared from one device to the next could only be listened to 3 times, so you better hope that you stopped that Zune and didn’t mute it or you might miss your buddies favorite song recommendation all together!
Lee seems to be receiving much of the criticism on his way out as Microsoft’s golden child J Allard (right) will assume full responsibility for the device. Allard headed up the Xbox device launch and was infamous for saying he would rather buy an Apple than use the Microsoft OS on the drawing boards, which was later scrapped as Microsoft restarted the project and ultimately came up with Vista.
So why didn’t Allard step in this time and say he would rather buy an iPod and set this device on the right track?
Well for one thing, they didn’t have a working Apple model to benchmark. Unfortunately, they missed the working benchmark that was on the market a year ago from Sonicast and Tao. It worked just fine and could have shown the Zune a thing or two about ease of use. Microsoft should have just bought the rights or bought the entire company rather than waste all that time on R&D and benchmarking.
Open note to Mr. Allard, drop me an email and I’ll put you in touch with the right people. Then you can prove yourself the hero and start ordering office furniture for the COO office in Butterfly headquarters.