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Pretty in Pink?
Microsoft's Zune gets off to a promising start

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.

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RE: Blech
By theprodigalrebel on 11/30/2006 10:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Since when do 30+ tech-geeks (I am assuming all-male) reject a new tech-toy based on looks or the damn color? I am actually glad MS is not marketing this to 14-yr-old cheerleaders.

RE: Blech
By Wightout on 11/30/2006 11:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
The pink does not say girls 14+ to you?

RE: Blech
By MajorPaver on 11/30/2006 11:54:12 PM , Rating: 3
Where have you been? Case mods, ipods, flat screens. We aren't flipping switches on Altairs anymore and people do care.

Performance is always paramount, but it doesn't have to look like a reject from a 1970s "enhance your ride with a vinyl roof" convention.

RE: Blech
By kelmon on 12/1/2006 3:07:36 AM , Rating: 1
I fall into that category and certainly wouldn't buy something that isn't pleasing to the eye so, yeah, colour and looks ARE important. Functionality is key, however, since I would not buy something that looked good but wasn't useful, but equally I wouldn't buy something that offered the best functions but hurts the eyes to look at it. If I'm going to pay "top dollar" (or Pound Sterling in my case) for a product then it needs to be a complete product and that means the overall design must be excellent.

Again, the current Zune is a complete waste of time (both for the consumer and Microsoft) but future versions could do well if they sorted out the glaring design and functionality flaws. Given the general Vista disaster in terms of project schedule I can only assume that Microsoft pushed this one out the door before the product was finished. One really does wonder what the original scope document for the product included...

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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