Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No Scrobbler for Zune

I've been a Last.FM user for over two years now and I've really enjoyed the service. The song tracking and recommendation engine is robust and mature.

Last Christmas I got an 80GB Zune. I love it. I love the interface and the device quality. It's a nice solid piece of technology.

My big issue is that there is no scrobbler for the Zune. A scrobbler is software that monitors your music listening habits and reports it back to Last.FM for your account. I have a plugin for iTunes that tracks my listening at work but when I'm listening to my Zune in the car or at home, I have no way to track that music, with Last.FM.

Sure I could switch over to the Zune software exclusively, however there are a couple of problems.
  1. My song counts and listening habits are not well done at Zune.net. The count and last track played haven't updated in weeks and even when they did, it was frequently wrong.
  2. I have over 21,000 songs of history on Last.FM. I would loose all of that by switching services.
  3. The recommendation engine in Last.FM works better, in my opinion, than the one on Zune.net. I'm sure over time it will improve, but not if they don't collect data accurately.

So why no scrobbler for the Zune? Two issues:
  1. As noted above, Microsoft and Zune are trying to create their own social music ecosystem. Rather than give their users a choice they are tying users to their exclusive system.
  2. The system is locked down, either because of #1 or because of technical reasons. Last.FM relies on a plug-in system, which other applications, including Microsoft Media Player, allow. The Zune software does not.

There have been a couple attempts at creating a scrobbler for the Zune but they've always been hacked together and require additional user intervention or can only collect a certain amount of data.

At the end of the day either some very smart developer will have to figure out a way to bridge these two products or Microsoft will decide to allow plug-ins. I'm not terribly optimistic about either frankly. As much as I love my Zune the market is small compared to the iPod/iTunes Juggernaut.

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