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Author Topic: Marketplace tromps iTunes in search capabilities  (Read 4659 times)
Zunerama Ed.
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« on: January 29, 2007, 11:02:34 PM »

From the Zunerama blog:

Being an iTunes user for several years, I never thought much about its search capabilities. Until, that is, I experienced the elegance of Zune software's search.

Before you iTunes fans cry heresy, consider the following:

When searching for a song with iTunes, you enter a search term or two (example: "Van Morrison"), and press the Search button to see a list of matching results.

Simple enough. But if you spelled 'Morrison' wrong (with one r, perhaps, or two s's), iTunes won't return any hits. At best, if you're lucky, you'll see a "did you mean...?" message from iTunes.

And don't try partial searches, either. If you try to save time and avoid errors by entering "van mor", you likewise won't get any Van Morrison hits in your iTunes search results.

Another scenario: enter "Eddie Cochrane" as your search term, and iTunes returns no matches. Why? Because the artist you're looking for is Eddie Cochran... you have to lose the trailing e, otherwise iTunes won't help you.

iTunes search is simply unforgiving of typos or incomplete words, and returns only songs that are exact matches to your search terms.

Zune software, on the other hand, is much more forgiving, and much more effective as a tool for finding music. Most noticeably, it provides dynamic searching. As you enter your search terms, a filtered list of search results appears in the details pane. Every letter you press further filters the list - so as you spell your song name or artist name, you can see the results changing dynamically. You get immediate feedback on what you're looking for.

Because of the dynamic search, you can use partial spellings in your search. Enter "van mor", for example, and you'll see all Van Morrison songs appear as you key in the letters.

Zune software lets you mix and match partial search terms for artist and song name, too. This can be a very quick way to filter your results down to a desired song. Enter "van mor moon", and you'll get an idea of how quickly you can filter down to see Van Morrison's track Moondance.

Another useful trait of Marketplace search: it returns everything in that artist's catalog - even items that may not be available for download. This actually facilitates search - by providing a positive hit on your search terms. With iTunes, you have to scroll through search results to be sure you're not missing it, buried among the tribute albums and cover versions by other artists. Or, that you haven't missed it because of iTunes' lack of forgiveness about typos and partial search terms.

On the flip side: While iTunes search is primitive, it is responsive. Press enter, and the results come back faster than the dynamic search of Marketplace.

The benefits of Marketplace search really hit home to me recently during our Rock'n'Roll research, where I and a small team searched for 500 rock and roll songs in each of iTunes and Marketplace. The efficiencies of Zune's Marketplace really stood out in that research project.

Zune software may not be perfect, but when it comes to helping you find the music you want... it blows the doors off of iTunes.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2007, 11:04:26 PM by Zunerama Ed. » Logged


glowbee
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2007, 11:13:08 PM »

On the flip side: While iTunes search is primitive, it is responsive. Press enter, and the results come back faster than the dynamic search of Marketplace.

Slow or not, that's still one of the things I absolutely adore about Marketplace. It's cool watching results develop as you type.
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Trastan
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2007, 11:56:49 AM »

No. Kidding.

The dynamic search is nothing short of fantastic. Odd, though, that iTunes wouldn't have it, since the Mac OS does. Odd, no?
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Zunerama Ed.
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2007, 01:19:13 PM »

It is odd, and when Gizmodo picked up this story, I was surprised how many iPod users responded in the comments, about how they acknowledged that this is an area that Apple hasn't done much with, even though the Mac OS offers dynamic search.
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tron32
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 01:58:34 PM »

I don't quite understand how returning content that isn't available helps searching.  I mean you search for The Beatles and it brings up all their albums.  So you go to buy one only to discover you can't.  I'd rather not be shown things I can't buy considering I probably wouldn't have been searching for it in the first place if I didn't want to buy it.

But the dynamic search is definitely nice for Zune.  Now if they would just ditch the Points or just make a song 80 points.  But isn't the dynaic search based on the fact that Zune downloads the entire Marketplace catalog to your computer?  I only used the software for a brief time, but I do recall on my initial visit to the Zune Marketplace it indicated it was downloading something it referred to as the Zune Catalog. 

Again having very little knowledge of Zune Marketplace, does it have anything comparable to iTunes browse function where you can drill down through multiple columns to exactly what you want?

Personally, I've decided not to buy digital music downloads ever again but I do still visit the iTunes Store every Tuesday to download the free Single of the Week,  the iTunes Latino Single of the Week (sorry, Cancion de la Semana), and the Discovery Artist Single of the Week.  Can't beat getting 3 free songs every week. 
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glowbee
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2007, 08:05:30 PM »

No. Kidding.

The dynamic search is nothing short of fantastic. Odd, though, that iTunes wouldn't have it, since the Mac OS does. Odd, no?

Quite. The built in fuctionalities in Mac OS usually span the majority of their preinstalled apps. Great observation.
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moshu
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2007, 10:16:48 PM »

Wrong.

I fire up iTunes on the Mac. I type into the search window the letter    e
EVERY thing with the letter   e   shows up, INSTANTLY, NO having to hit the search button, it finds them all in a music library of approximately 7000 songs
I then type the letter    l    after the existing    e
EVERY thing with el in it shows up, INSTANTLY, NO having to hit the search button

And, after a few more letters,  only my    el divo    hits show up.

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Zunerama Ed.
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2007, 11:04:25 PM »

Wrong.

I fire up iTunes on the Mac. I type into the search window the letter    e
EVERY thing with the letter   e   shows up, INSTANTLY, NO having to hit the search button, it finds them all in a music library of approximately 7000 songs
I then type the letter    l    after the existing    e
EVERY thing with el in it shows up, INSTANTLY, NO having to hit the search button

And, after a few more letters,  only my    el divo    hits show up.

Wow... is iTunes on the Mac that different than iTunes on the PC..??  I've seen many long-time iTunes users comment on how poor the iTunes search is, in the Gizmodo comments to the search story. Is that because they're using Apple's PC version of iTunes?
« Last Edit: February 02, 2007, 11:06:34 PM by Zunerama Ed. » Logged


aaron00lee
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2007, 11:05:28 PM »

It might be, that'd be interesting to kno
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Trastan
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2007, 01:55:33 PM »

Well, yet again moshu's being a prick about it, but he's right. I just checked with my copy, and iTunes library search IS instant, just like Zune's is, even on the PC version.

On the other hand, if you're talking about ONLY the online stores from each, then you're right. The Zune's really beats up iTunes in that its online store AND your library are searched at the same time, the results are sorted into categories, and the marketplace shows you what songs you already have in your library.

If this was all common knowledge, ignore! Smiley
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