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I get asked this question all the time since owning a Zune. As soon as people see it, they ask me if they should buy the Microsoft Zune or an Apple iPod.

The question is not an easy one to answer. Here are my takes on the two:

  • Device Capabilities – Zune (has FM reciever and slightly larger screen, other then that they are virtually equal, besides the gimick of wifi sharing)
  • Music Store – Apple (wider selection of music, podcast downloads, audible books)
  • Subscription Model – Zune (since Apple has no such option, but this can be a negative if you don’t want to “rent” your music)
  • Video – Apple (mainly due to the fact Apple actually has a way to buy / download videos whereas the Zune you have to find it on the net and convert it to wmv)
  • Content Sharing – Zune (share with Zune, computer, xbox360 although Apple makes this almost virtually equal now with the AppleTV and Airport Express)
  • Accessories – Apple (they own the accessories marketplace, two words, BOSE Sounddock)
  • Battery Life – Apple (they win, the Zune has good battery life but the ipod just beats it hands down)
  • Hardrive Access – Apple (Zune you have to hack, and still it really isn’t a harddrive to the system)
  • Guest Mode – Zune (apple can’t access content without 3rd party apps from foriegn ipods to iTunes, have to delete content and resync)

So there you have it, the points, all being equal means 5 to 5. So its a split decision. Apple wins some, Zune wins some. No doubt the Apple Marketing machine wins in advertising, although the Apple iPhone sure has some folks holding off. Can’t wait for Microsoft’s version 2 of the Zune or maybe they won’t forget the early adopters and unlock some of the potential the Zune actually has. Of course this is comparing the Apple iPod and Zune with equal sizes, if diskspace is a must, Apple wins due to their larger available size.

My recomendation to anyone looking to buy a music player… Hold off till this holiday season. If you must have one, either buy someone’s used iPod cheap or get a Apple iPod nano until the new models come out, if size doesn’t matter, if it does, buy the bigger iPod 80gig otherwise wait and see what comes out this fall.