Microsoft’s Zune media players continue to lag behind Apple’s popular iPods so they’re looking to gain an advantage wherever they can. One possible boost is a recent deal with NBC to license shows for use on the Zune after NBC yanked them from Apple’s iTunes offerings after a dispute over pricing and DRM. Microsoft seems eager to do whatever it takes to make NBC happy including developing software that would check for and block any illegitimate NBC shows found on your Zune. Here’s a snippet from the New York Times Blog:
Late Tuesday afternoon I reached J. B. Perrette, the president of digital distribution for NBC Universal, to ask why NBC found Microsoft’s video store more appealing than Apple’s.
He explained that NBC, like most studios, would like the broadest distribution possible for its programming. But it has two disputes with Apple.
First, Apple insists that all TV shows have an identical wholesale price so that it can sell all of them at $1.99. NBC wants to sell its programs for whatever price it chooses.
Second, Apple refused to cooperate with NBC on building filters into its iPod player to remove pirated movies and videos.
Microsoft, by contrast, will accept NBC’s pricing scheme and will work with it to try to develop a copyright “cop” to be installed on its devices.
Oddly enough there appears to be some debate at Microsoft about whether or not this Copyright Cop software will actually ever see the light of day on the Zune:
In the Zune Insider Blog, Cesar Menendez, a member of Microsoft’s Zune team, refers to this post, and the blog discussion it prompted. He writes:
We have no plans or commitments to implement any new type of content filtering in the Zune devices as part of our content distribution deal with NBC.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Perrette told me that Microsoft committed to explore filtering; he didn’t say it committed to implementing those filters.
Here is what Mr. Sohn, the Microsoft spokesman, told me yesterday when I asked him about what Mr. Perrette said: “I don’t think they are wrong, but we are not going to characterize those discussions.” Later he added, “We have agreed to work with NBC across a range of topics, and protection of copyrighted material is certainly one of them.”
Either way it’s certainly a good reason to think twice about whether or not you want to purchase a Zune especially given the fate that befell users of the defunct MSN Music service.