When Microsoft first dropped the Zune—for the many who may have forgotten, it’s like a bad, brown iPod—it really tried hard to sell it to the tastemaking indie scene, filling the ads with blissed-out, scruffy boho types and the players with recent Sub Pop releases and such. Obviously that didn’t work out so hot, as I’ve seen exactly one Zune being used in the wild, by a hardcore computer geek who looked like he might have actually bought it just because he loves Microsoft. I know the company still wants to hit up the hipsters eventually, but in the meantime it’s turning its attention to an underserved demographic with a player branded with monster reggaeton artists Wisin y Yandel.
It’s an uncharacteristically smart move for the Zune. Going by street-level metrics—like the number of cars you hear it pumping from—reggaeton’s ridiculously massive, but mainstream pop culture doesn’t even seem to know it exists. Maybe mainstream America has a problem with lyrics in Spanish. Or maybe it’s just that Anglos aren’t feeling it. Personally I can only take reggaeton in small doses. I find it to be overly repetitive and shallow, and I listen to ringtone rap and house music for fun so that’s saying a lot.
But the Wisin y Yandel Zune could win Microsoft the hearts of a lot of reggaeton listeners out there. Niche marketing can do that. I’m sure most of them won’t even mind that Microsoft is basically just selling them a dressed-up version of the original model.