You have to feel sorry for the people at Microsoft working on Zune. They have what many consider to be Microsoft’s finest product and yetÂ they are being shot out of the water by Steve Jobs and iPod/iPhone. Not good. But they have the comfort that Zune is part of an integrated strategy going forward. That it will grow to be one of the core elements of the Xbox/Live/Zune technology and strategy. And as it grows it will become a game machine, a phone and a camera. And all these features will be integrated with Xbox and Live. This is where MicrosoftÂ is headed.
As part of building and nurturing the brand Microsoft obviously use community marketing. An essential tool these days. And the people who do thisÂ must have a hard time against the Apple iPod/iPhone brand. So, like all good community people theyÂ searchedÂ for, identified and then looked after evangelists. This is because evangelists act like a force multiplier. They are effectively free employees.Â And because they are not actual employees they can get away with being a lot more guerrilla in their tactics. In other words they can be fanboys.
So imagine the repercussions in the Microsoft Zune community department when a very prominentÂ evangelistÂ firstly went postal on them and secondly defected to the opposition in a fit of pique. The Zune Guy even has Zune tattoos over his body, which he will now need to change or have removed. And he hadÂ tried to change his name to “Microsoft Zune”.
He says thatÂ his volte-faceÂ was all because Microsoft reneged on a promise to bring him for a tour of Redmond. Microsoft say that they never made such a promise and only mentioned the possibility to him. So we can all see what has happened here. Microsoft raised this guys expectations so that a misunderstanding was inevitable. And all the freebies they had already given him counted as nothing once he thought that he was spurned and so devalued as a person. His justification video tells you everything really.
What this whole episode highlights is just how difficult community work is, what a high level of social skills are needed to do it well. And the crass stupidity of dangling a carrot and then not delivering.