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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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Limitations
By crystal clear on 12/2/2006 1:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
Better to read the following then decide what to buy-


Limitations

The limitations are presumably in place to prevent wholesale sharing of songs but the protection even applies to songs not downloaded or bought.

"What's really nuts is that the restrictions even stomp on your own musical creations," wrote Pogue, describing the protection as "draconian" and "as strict as a 19th-Century schoolmarm".

Both reviewers criticised the lack of other features in the Zune.

Pogue wrote: "It doesn't have a single standard iPod amenity: no games, alarm clock, stopwatch, world clock, password-protected volume limiter, equaliser, calendar, address book or notes module."

You cannot download podcasts either, he pointed out.

"This first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users," wrote Mossberg.

He added: "The hardware feels rushed and incomplete."

Mr Mossberg also criticised the payment scheme for the Zune marketplace, pointing out that users have to buy £5-worth of points at a time, even if they intend to buy only a single track.

Zune users must use a new piece of library software - and not Windows Media Player.

Source-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6143500.stm




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