How Zune could beat the iPod

OK, here’s my crazy idea for the week: Microsoft should update the firmware for the Zune to add podcasting support, then cut a deal with T-Mobile/Starbucks so that every Zune owner within a few yards of a Starbucks would get free wifi access. The pitch? In the time it takes to order a coffee, your Zune would update all the podcasts on your playlist; get your coffee and go, with hours of new audio to listen to.

This feels right to me: it’s coming at Apple sideways. You’re not going to win by competing with iTunes – so forget about trying to make a better iPod/iTunes combo. No. Make the Zune the ultimate mobile podcast client, and then market the hell out of it. Microsoft has already proven they’re willing to pay studios a few bucks per unit in order to keep them happy, so who’s to say they wouldn’t be willing to throw a few dollars T-Mobile’s way? T-Mobile gets a nice revenue stream, Microsoft gets a little of the ‘cool’ factor by partnering with Starbucks, and by more explicitly promoting podcasting, they go after a perceived Apple strength (podcasting) by doing something that no Apple device can do today.

Yes, I’m setting aside the many UI and overall usability complaints that others have had… but in the abstract, this would be a pretty compelling move, don’t you think?