Microsoft Targets iTunes Prices in New Zune Pass Commercial

Microsoft is continuing its attacks on Apple pricing, this time with the launch of a commercial for Zune Pass, Microsoft's monthly subscription plan for digital music. In the commercial, financial planner and former The Apprentice contestant Wes Moss contrasts the $14.99/month Zune Pass with iTunes Store purchases for Apple's 120 GB iPod classic, which at $1.00 per track would cost on the order of $30,000 to fill if all content was purchased from the iTunes Store.

Ars Technica presents an analysis of the numbers and describes how Microsoft neglects to mention the differences between "owning" and "renting" music.

Of course, it's not exactly $15 versus $30,000. The $15 is a monthly fee, so you're likely going to be paying more if you plan on playing music for more than a month. That said, it would take you 166 years and 8 months to shell out $30,000 for the Zune Pass; many of us won't be living that long.

As of November 2008, the Zune Pass allows its users to keep any 10 songs per month. In other words, if you wanted 30,000 songs for keeps, just like the iTunes Store, you would have to wait 250 years. The cost would be a whopping $45,000, however. In other words, it's only really worth it if you're OK with the fact that you have to keep paying the monthly fee to keep access to the songs that you don't yet own. Otherwise, iTunes (or any other la carte model) is the way to go.

Microsoft also avoids mentioning in the commercial the fact that substantial portions of most users' digital music libraries are simply converted from previously-obtained music sources free of charge.

Price comparisons between Microsoft/PCs and Apple have been a focal point of recent Microsoft ad campaigns, beginning in earnest about six weeks ago with the launch of the "Laptop Hunters" series of TV commercials, as well as associated Web advertising.

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