This is going to be a post about making money. But to be honest, the inspiration came from a very different angle. When I saw the latest news about the Zune 30GB leap year bug, it occurred to me that although this was bad news for Microsoft, at the same time it reminded me of one teen’s success riding on the popularity of the Zune, and a classic example of the Web’s “property industry.”
If you have bought a Zune at all, then chances are you’ve probably stumbled upon and probably joined one of the largest Zune forums on the Web, ZuneBoards.com. It certainly takes a lot of hard work to build such a successful forum, but what is more amazing is that the owner, Han Sup Yoon, did it all while he was (and still is) in school! In October last year, Han Sup Yoon sold ZuneBoards for a cool $62,000!
In a few years, I bet the forum would be worth much more than that. Make no mistake, Microsoft has a lot riding on the Zune, and I don’t think for one moment that the latest incident is going to have a long term impact on the Zune’s saleability. It’ll probably be just a blip in the long run.
What I want to point out is that the sale of ZuneBoards is a good example of how someone cashed out on his Web creation, a forum at that. Curiously, Microsoft didn’t have any trademark issues with the forum’s name; on the contrary, they believed forums like ZuneBoards actually help to boost the Zune’s popularity and they let it be. I guess this was also a good demonstration of “corporate sensibility” on Microsoft’s part, which is rather rare in today’s world.
It’s worth noting that Han initially wasn’t successful selling ZuneBoards at anywhere else, but finally found success on eBay. Now whoever said that forums don’t make money should rethink that notion again.