Microsoft's Zune portable audio player may not exactly be
setting the sales charts ablaze, but it did make a respectable showing during its
first few weeks on the market. According to market research firm NPD Group, the
Zune managed to capture second place in the digital audio player market in its
first four days of availability.
For its first week, the Zune managed to grab
9% of the market according to NPD. "Considering it is a new brand,
it's a very good first-week showing," said Ross Rubin of NPD Group. Rubin
went on to say "For a new brand that received limited to mixed reviews,
and which is incompatible with the leading music store (Apple's iTunes,) as
well as other music stores, it was a good launch."
It's a strong showing indeed by Microsoft, but only time
will tell if the Zune has the stamina to make in further inroads on Apple's
dominate iPod range. Apple's line of portable audio players which consist of
the iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle captured a whopping 63% for the same week
period according to NPD.
As far as sales are concerned, Apple's cheaper flash-based
Nano and Shuffle take the bulk of iPod sales. The Nano and Shuffle have base MSRPs
of $149 and $79 respectively compared to $249 for the hard drive-based Zune.
Microsoft is going to need to expand its Zune lineup to
include cheaper flash-based player if it is going to have any chance of
competing toe-to-toe with the iPod. Creative and SanDisk both have flash-based
offerings that are well below the $100 threshold and Microsoft will eventually
have to follow suit.
On a side note, when Microsoft launched its Zune on November
14, it also dumped 100 pink Zunes onto the market which surprised some
unsuspecting buyers when they opened their packages. Not surprisingly some hit
eBay with one
selling for over $700.