My weekly Switched On column at Engadget discusses whether Microsoft sought elegance in developing its answer to the iPod. One point I take Microsoft to task on is continuing to push the subscription model. Sure, Zune Marketplace offers a la carte downloads as well, but so do practically every other subscription site. The downloads are there to placate would be iTunes store downloaders, but the companies really want consumers to sign up. Regardless of their value, and there is some, I think that even mentioning music subscriptions is a big turnoff for a lot of consumers.
On the other hand, perhaps Microsoft is building its own service suite. Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live for $25/month could appeal to a younger digital entertainment addict.