Xbox Music Gets Update But Can’t Match iTunes

It’s time for Microsoft to quit with Xbox and deliver a first-rate music player for Windows Phone

By Stephen Pate – Microsoft updated Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8.1 to release 2.6.186.  The music player app is so bad 8,800 users give it a 2 star rating.

According to Microsoft the update provides “bug fixes and general performance improvements.” The changes are tiny and do nothing to improve the user experience.

Someone on the Xbox Users Forum, supposedly from the Xbox team, had the nerve to say the update was enough for now “We’ve been focused on our mobile efforts for a bit. We’ll be shifting some of that focus back to the desktop soon…stay tuned.”  That is discouraging for Windows Phone owners who like music.

Apple iTunes is the gold standard

Tweet to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella – @satyanadella get your @windowsphone team iPhones let them learn how a phone music player should look, feel and work

iPhone music player

Apple has the best music player in the smartphone world. Apple developed the iTunes player and store concept on the iPod, carried it through to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

With Apple, it’s all about a great customer experience. Find the music you like, listen and buy it if you don’t already own it.

Because it’s easy to do, I’ve purchased 2,000 songs from the iTunes store and only 130 from Xbox.

For the most part,  the iTunes store selections are better, especially for music videos. Apple’s customer service actually works at fixing problems in purchasing and downloading music.

After 2 years of using a Windows 8 Phone, we still rely on my old iPhone 4 and iPod Touch for music around the house. They work. It’s easy to find the song or album you want, play or change the song.

In comparison, trying to find the song you want on a Windows Phone is an exercise in frustration. Payback on Xbox Music is weird: the functions are not intuitive.  It’s hard to change songs once you pick them and sometimes I can’t figure out how to stop the music. My wife does not even bother.

The Xbox Music app is a streaming music service that costs $99 a year disguised as a music player and a bad one at that.  Apple iTunes Match has a better cloud service for $24.99 per year but you don’t have to use it.

I balk at giving Microsoft $100 a year to listen to my own CD’s which is the reaction they are getting from most people. On the other hand, I am spending more than $300 a year at the iTunes store.

Xbox streaming music services

Apple had 40% of all music sales in 2013 and is still growing. iTunes dominates digital music sales with more than 70% of the revenues.

Xbox is trying to be a subscription service like Spotify but that is still a tiny market compared with the billions Apple is making on iTunes.  The other problem is Microsoft cannot replace existing market leaders like Spotify and Pandora.  If Microsoft wants to be in the streaming market, they need to buy Spotify or a similar company.  Even Apple bought Beats this year when it wanted to gain entry into the streaming market.

Microsoft is losing money on Xbox Music and is rumored to be looking for a buyer. Windows Phone owners can only hope Apple matches Microsoft’s Office on iPad deal with iTunes on Windows Phone and Surface.  Otherwise the future does not look promising for a native music player on Windows Phone.  I can’t think of a single feature, other than the music player, that would drive me back to an iPhone. Like most people, I like my music.

Xbox games or music

The concept of Xbox Music, and Xbox Video, was to create an entertainment hub around Xbox game systems. The idea was flawed from the beginning since Xbox people are gamers, generally young men who like to shoot things. That’s a tiny, unique market compared to the billions of people who enjoy music of all kinds.

To keep the Xbox gaming theme, Microsoft has adopted a black goth look for Xbox Music and Video and odd navigation and features that make iTunes look perfect by way of comparison.

Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network, OyeTimes and IMA News Buzz. You can also subscribe and receive notifications of new stories by email.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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