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iPod Family Picture
Apple's iPod knocks out the competition during the Christmas buying season

Apple's iPod continued its three-year streak as the most coveted gift for the Christmas buying season and dominated sales charts. Apple also saw a substantial increase in web traffic to its site due to a shift in strategy employed with its newest line of iPods.

Apple has been relying heavily on its flash-based players during the 2006 Christmas buying season. The Nano has accounted for 51% of total iPod sales while the Shuffle hold strong at 21%. The 5/5.5G iPod accounts for the remainder. iPod music players also accounted for 4 of the top 10 sellers in Amazon.com's electronics section. Amazon.com is the world's largest online-only retailer.

When Apple introduced its 5.5G iPod, 2G iPod Nano and 2G iPod Shuffle in September, the company did away with providing an installation CD for its iTunes software. This not only allowed Apple to cut down on costs for its popular music players, but in the case of the Nano and Shuffle allowed for more compact product packaging.

iPod users are now required to go directly to Apple's website to download iTunes software in order to sync their players and download iTunes music. As a result, Apple saw a 413% increase in traffic to its iTunes site and a 110% increase to the Apple Store compared to December 25, 2005. Apple's site took a heavy beating as new iPod owners (and iPod owners packing iTunes gift cards) swamped iTunes.

Microsoft's Zune on the other hand saw rather lackluster sales during the same Christmas buying season according to Amazon.com sales numbers. The Zune managed to score respectable sales numbers in its first week of availability, but has steadily lost steam in the market. When the Zune first hit store shelves, it captured 9% of the market according to NDP group. Just a few weeks later, that share had dropped down to a mere 2%.

Traffic to Microsoft's Zune.net site also saw a substantial increase on Christmas day. Traffic for Zune.net increased by 1,030% compared to December 18. Apple still held the advantage as iTunes site traffic increased by 1,222% during the same time period with total site traffic outpacing Zune.net 30-to-1.

Despite the Zune’s poor showing during the Christmas rush, Microsoft contends that its music player is on track to surpass the one million units shipped mark by June 2007.

In other news, Apple has quietly issued another update for its 1G iPod Shuffle music player. The iPod Shuffle Reset Utility v1.0.1 has been issued to fix iPod Shuffle players that aren't able to be recognized by Windows or Max OS X operating systems and have been unable to playback some iTunes music files. The v1.0.1 update can be downloaded from Apple's site.



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traffic increase
By hughlle on 12/28/2006 12:16:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
iTunes site traffic increased by 1,222%


what does this prove, nothing. the increased traffic is nothing to do with people liking ipods more, its to with the fact that they dont have a choice but to visit the site and download itunes.




RE: traffic increase
By kibets on 12/28/06, Rating: 0
RE: traffic increase
By MrDiSante on 12/28/2006 12:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Sell it to an apple junky for 20$. Zune and Zen Vision : M / Vision / Vision W for the world!


RE: traffic increase
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/28/2006 12:56:32 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Sell it to an apple junky for 30$ .

Fixed that for you.


RE: traffic increase
By Miggle on 12/29/2006 12:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
I hear you buddy! Never looked back after I got the Creative Zen Vision:M.

It really makes me wonder now that the press seems to be limiting the market to two contenders, Zune and Ipod, when there are better options out there. I hear Cowown (whatever the spelling is) offers good stuff. Creative has packaged more features than Ipod and Zune AFAIK in their players.


RE: traffic increase
By Axbattler on 12/29/2006 9:21:30 AM , Rating: 2
'Better' is subjective and dependant on your priority.

I gave the Vision:M, (Cowon) X5, and the 5G iPod a spin earlier this year. The Vision:M is clearly the better video player, while the X5 is the weakest. However, I favour the 5G and X5 as a music player: I prefer their sound more, and appreciate their support for lossless).

Yes the iPod lacks a built-in radio, but that is only an issue if you need it (I stopped listening to radio a long time ago). Likewise, the iPod is also the most compact of the three, though if you do not value that aspect, then sure you can cross it out as a feature. I also favour the iPods interface. On the other hand, I am not a fan of iTune.

Overall, I consider the iPod up there with the other established players. I do feel that too much attention is given to their market share. Is it the only choice for everyone? Of course not. Is every other alternative clearly superior? Not even close. People would do well to weight their priorities, and see which player fits their need most, rather than automatically embracing/rejecting certain brands [general statement not directed specifically at anyone].

[I've never used a Zune, so I'll refrain from commenting on that player]


RE: traffic increase
By melgross on 12/28/2006 12:53:46 PM , Rating: 5
Grow up, and stop hating companies. Hate something that matters.


RE: traffic increase
By MrDiSante on 12/28/2006 12:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
Are you saying Apple doesn't matter? Swarm him, Apple junkies!


RE: traffic increase
By Mathue on 12/28/2006 1:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not for the level of drama it creates, both for the fans and the haters.


RE: traffic increase
By Rollomite on 12/28/06, Rating: 0
RE: traffic increase
By Mathue on 12/28/2006 1:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
>>Polish it up, turn it sideways, and shove it straight up your candy @ss

He must be careful, doing so might increase their IQ ;)


RE: traffic increase
By Mathue on 12/28/2006 1:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
Try something called 'regifting'.


Zune is just another Gigabeat
By Saist on 12/28/2006 1:33:17 PM , Rating: 3
I, for one, do not find the Zune's performance surprising at all. The Zune is basically a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat ( http://www.gigabeat.com/ ), a player that almost nobody has ever heard of.

Now, it is plausible that the Zune could pass One Million Units shipped by June 2007. However, there is a key word in there that I think a lot of people are skipping over, and that is the word shipped . Now, we've already been in this mess before with Sony and the original Playstation, not to mention the Playstation Portable. Shipped units are not sold units. We've also had this before with the original Xbox from Microsoft as well.

Units that are shipped from the Warehouse are not sold units. Fact is, Sony and Microsoft have a long history of embellishing sales numbers by either mis-reporting the numbers, or by changing the way the numbers are presented. I, personally, already hammered Sony on that back on Monday 23rd of January 2006 at 08:30:01 AM on Gamenikki's blog. (That series is reprinted here : http://www.gamenikki.com/g3/features/Jason.php?id=... )

To quote myself

quote:
Sounds suddenly familiar doesn't it? Sony didn't sell 10 million plus PSP units, but they did ship that many. Now, what I want to ask, is what the average user going to think when they browse through press listings or blurbs on a news site. Those are such big numbers being tossed about, and the idea of "a million anything" to an average web page browser is indeed a lot. What exactly looks more competitive? 9 million plus handhelds sold versus 13.5 million handhelds sold, or 10 million plus handhelds versus 13.5 million handhelds.


The fact is, Microsoft isn't promising that one million units will have been sold by June 2007. All they promise that one million units will have shipped from the factory. Now, if Microsoft wants to step forward and say how many Zune's they actually expect to sell to end users by December 2007, I think that number is going to be a few hundred thousand short of a million.




RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By cplusplus on 12/28/2006 1:44:08 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Now, it is plausible that the Zune could pass One Million Units shipped by June 2007. However, there is a key word in there that I think a lot of people are skipping over, and that is the word shipped . Now, we've already been in this mess before with Sony and the original Playstation, not to mention the Playstation Portable. Shipped units are not sold units. We've also had this before with the original Xbox from Microsoft as well.


But, when they ship it to a store, the store has usually already payed the wholesale price to Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo/whoever. So to the company, it is a product sold. Even though it is sitting on a store shelf somewhere.


RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By cochy on 12/28/2006 3:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'd have to agree with you. Manufacturers sell to wholesalers and wholesalers sell to retails and retailers sell to consumers. So if Microsoft is shipping units, these units are already paid for hence they are already sold therefore a sale has been made and completed (not taking return policy into account).

If these "shipped" units are sitting on store shelves, retailers won't be ordering more from wholesalers and therefore wholesalers won't be ordering more from manufacturers, and even though Microsoft might hit their target of units "shipped" they certainly might not be performing as well as they could in the consumer market.

So all in all, reporting targets of units "shipped" is sorta sneaky, so you both have points. However, it's not up to Best Buy to meet targets for Microsoft. So how else should Microsoft set their targets?


RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By Trogdor on 12/28/2006 3:44:32 PM , Rating: 1
That is correct, in Microsoft's case, shipped means (from warehouse to retailer) which is a far better reflection of sales than what Sony does.

Microsoft and Sony differ in what they consider shipped/sold.

Microsoft: Shipped/Sold = from warehouse to retailer
Sony: Shipped/Sold = from manufacturing plant, to warehouse.

If you take this into perspective, at least Microsoft is somewhat closer to representing what the real userbase of sold through is as retailers will generally not reorder more units unless the current ones are sold. In Sony's case, they can continue to say they're selling, when in fact they can be stockpiling in warehouses. Big discrepancy.


RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By cochy on 12/28/2006 4:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying Sony reports "shipped" units when they send them from their own plant to their own warehouse? Now i'm getting confused. You're also saying that Sony equates these "shipments" with "sales" as well?


RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By Trogdor on 12/28/2006 4:44:34 PM , Rating: 1
That's correct!

When Microsoft says shipped, they mean shipped from warehouse to retail. This means it has already been manufactured, stored in a warehouse and has been ordered from a retailer.

When Sony says shipped, they mean shipped from manufacturer to warehouse. This means the product has finished being produced and is being shipped to storage awaiting order.


RE: Zune is just another Gigabeat
By Hydrofirex on 12/28/2006 3:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Zune is basically a repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat


I totally disagree, the Zune is way more impressive than anything apple makes. I've actually got to use one, and it's what I would buy personally.

HfX


You can't stop it!
By therealnickdanger on 12/28/2006 12:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
Can't resist... Must. Not. Give. In! Can't... OMG I need an iPod!




RE: You can't stop it!
By jtesoro on 12/29/2006 3:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
I was looking for an MP3 player and was undecided for a long time. I ended up buying an iPod because I was given a Harman Kardon Drive-and-Play for the car, and it works best with an iPod. Just had it wired up, and it's quite handy.

I wonder what player I would have bought if I hadn't been nudged in the direction of the iPod...


The competitors don't even care
By pata2001 on 12/29/2006 1:31:39 AM , Rating: 2
Today, the iPod can do gapless MP3. I though with this, all the competitors will start supporting gapless. But no, noone, not even the Zune, even care about the proper playback of music. Everybody are still focusing on useless features like low-res video playback on tiny screen, useless wifi, and using MTP instead UMS connectivity (the iPod, although use iTunes to transfer music, is a UMS device, unlike the Zune).

So, eveybody still wondering why the iPod is so popular, and yet nobody even care to fix their own software (MS and SONY).




By Axbattler on 12/29/2006 9:54:07 AM , Rating: 2
AFAIK, official gapless support in iPod has only been around for 3 months or so. So it does not surprise me that competitors have yet to implement that feature.

And that's assuming that they care. The Rio Karma provided gapless playback, but you didn't see every other competitors rushing to implement that feature back then. That said, perhaps Apple has more 'leverage' in dictating what should be 'standard' in an MP3 player.

But is it really the competitors not caring, or their own market research suggesting that the majority do not care? Yes, gapless is a feature most audio enthusiast consider important, but the mass - even those who seeks to differentiate themselves from iPod users are probably more interested in other features such as movie playback. I 'care' more than the majority of my peers, but even for me, it's not a make or break feature (on the other hand, I do appreciate lossless/decent line-out something not all players support).


Zune is behind in so many ways
By iamright on 12/30/2006 12:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
I went to check out the zune at a store today and found that it was kinda cool with the big screen, it reminded me of the gigabeat I bought over a year ago (had 60 gb back then btw). I wasn't impressed with the pixelated album art displayed. The interface was clumsy. I don't like the non scrolling circular button. It's lame to have to use three separate buttons compared to the unified ipod interface. The center round button feels cheap and doesn't have the nice texture like the ipods. I have to say that I did like the graphical interface as far as the looks go but not so much in the area of intuitiveness. I don't see why anyone would buy a zune over a 30gb ipod when all things are considered.




RE: Zune is behind in so many ways
By Saist on 12/31/2006 11:45:20 AM , Rating: 2
it reminds you of the Gigabeat because it IS a Gigabeat.


Refresh function........................
By crystal clear on 12/30/2006 4:35:27 AM , Rating: 2
You guys out there have very short memories or you lack the abilities to interprete statements made by M$ executives in the past 2 months in various interviews.

I will refresh your memories by a few statement made in the past by M$ on CNET.

Quote-
Microsoft sees Zune effort as a long haul

update REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to catch up to Apple Computer in the music business, but expects the effort to take several years, a top company executive said Thursday

Unquote- note the words "catch up to Apple computer in the music business"
No where does it says it will beat IPODS in sales.

Quote-
Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, said at the company's financial analysts meeting here.

"We think of this in the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment" over several years, Bach said. "It is something that is going to take time. This is not a six-month initiative."

"We're not just introducing Zune to do the same thing other people do," Bach said. Still, he said, the company expects it to take three to five years for the effort to really pay off.
Zune will tie into other Microsoft efforts, including Xbox, Media Center and the company's Live Anywhere gaming effort, Bach said.

"It enables us to complete the picture," he added.
http://news.com.com/Microsoft+sees+Zune+effort+as+...
Also-

"Software is becoming a service," Ballmer said at the company's financial analyst meeting being held here. "Embracing advertising and subscription-based models and Internet-based delivery across Microsoft's product line is an important part of what we will do."

Ballmer likened Microsoft to a multicore processor, saying the company is trying to add two new cores, entertainment and Internet services, to its existing cores, desktop and server software.

http://news.com.com/Ballmer+Software+is+becoming+a...

Unquote-
*I can list pages after pages of such interviews from Bill Gates to the rest down in the M$ chain of executives.
None of them expected Zune to be No.1 seller this year.

*Buyers of today are not Stupid (most)Read this to give an indication of consumer trends in the USA-

LCD TVs now hottest holiday gadget
http://news.com.com/LCD+TVs+now+hottest+holiday+ga...

*Why LCDs? not only because of prices but this-
"other Microsoft efforts, including Xbox, Media Center and the company's Live Anywhere gaming effort, Bach said."

*Everything will revolve around the TV as source of entertainment.
To summaries it all-
Nobody expected the Zune to be the number 1 seller this year.




By iamright on 12/30/2006 4:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
Who's paying you to go to bat for MS? People are just talking about whats going on right now and people are giving their personal opinions about zune and ipod. If MS can't compete now with hundreds of millions then several years from now they'll have just wasted more time and money. I welcome any attempt to compete with ipod because it just means better ipods at a lower price. If MS wants to finance the competition to apple and I get better ipods in the future then I guess I should be a MS fan too!


Zune
By Visk on 12/28/2006 5:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
I would probably buy a Zune if it offered more space. 30GB doesn't cut it for me...neither does 60GB. I don't want to invest on an Archos because of how clunky it is (even though it has the biggest screen and the most features) so the only good option I really have is the iPod 80GB...




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