News from the world of MP3s says Microsoft is giving up on the Zune. On one hand this could be seen as the white flag of surrender from Microsoft, giving in to the dominant iPod. But really and truly, the Zune wasn’t a complete and total failure. In its heyday, millions were sold and people who had Zunes tended to like them. Sort of. Well, until they didn’t like them anymore. And yes, some of these were folks who liked the idea of pushing back at the Apple behemoth but for the most part this wasn’t always the case. In marketing speak, the Zune was part of the red ocean strategy. The popularity of the iPod illustrated the need and Zune rushed in to “bloody” the waters in a fierce battle, so to speak – though in reality it wasn’t that fierce of a battle because Zune at its best had only a tiny fraction of the MP3 market share.
In this line of thinking it could be said that Apple is pursuing the blue ocean strategy by creating an entirely new ocean to swim in. Did millions of people know they needed an iPad or an iPad II before those devices came along? In the world of the blue ocean, the marketplace is infinite, expanding to accommodate new products as they come along. Of course it isn’t easy being a blue ocean. It requires giant leaps of faith into uncharted waters – in cliché speak. This is not to say that Zune’s red ocean strategy didn’t also involve faith leaping – though into charted waters. And in the real world, every successful blue ocean eventually becomes a red ocean, otherwise it’s not really an ocean at all. So the moral of the story is that if you’ve got a “Zune” in your company, it’s worth jumping into the red ocean, but with an exit strategy. Maybe.
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