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Microsoft Zune with Altec Lansing M604 Speaker Dock
Microsoft is cautiously optimistic with Zune sales figures

Although the Zune has cooled off a bit in sales since its November 14 debut, Microsoft still expects to have shipped more than 1 million units within its first seven months of availability. The expectations are pretty modest on the part of Microsoft and could reflect some trepidation over what Apple has in store for the first half of 2007.

"We're forecasting just over 1 million units for the fiscal year. We feel pretty good about that number," said Zune marketing director Jason Reindorp.

The Zune launched with quite a bang (for a new player on the market with little to no brand recognition) managing to capture 9% of the market during its first week on the market according to NDP Group. Interest in the Zune has cooled off considerably since its launch as the Zune's market share has dwindled down to 2%.

Research firm IDC is forecasting that 21.5 million hard drive-based music players will be sold in 2006 with the Zune contributing 500,000 units to the figure. Microsoft itself projects that it will have 10% to 15% of the 30GB or larger music player market by June of 2007.

Microsoft also noted that a firmware update is on the way for the Zune. The new firmware will include compatibility updates to allow the Zune to function in Windows Vista, general bug fixes and performance tweaks. There will, however, be no additional features included in the update.

So for those of you that were expecting to get expanded WiFi functionality, you will be least for now. "It is plumbing stuff, but it is stuff customers will notice and appreciate. It's not going to be a whole new wireless scenario or anything like that," said Reindorp. CNET reports:

Microsoft also needs to expand how the Zune's Wi-Fi can be used, probably to allow a direct connection for downloading music from Microsoft directly to the Zune. Gartenberg notes, however, that such a connection is tricky to engineer in a way that is still easy to use on a device that has no keyboard.

Microsoft also needs to push out a flash-based player to allow the Zune to gain more traction in the marketplace. According to Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, flash-based players like the iPod Nano are unstoppable this holiday season. "There is no flash Zune at a time when the (iPod) Nano is just flying off the shelves. Those are the things they are going to have to address in 2007 if they are going to be a credible player."

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Actually Impressive
By Hydrofirex on 12/7/2006 1:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
My brother got one of these things. I have to say: Bigger screen, FM radio capability (US, European, Asian), Wi-Fi and sharing capabilities - I think it's a winner. I've had my hands on both an Ipod and one of these and I would take the Zune hands down. Especially when it does get better net capabilities.


RE: Actually Impressive
By hunter44102 on 12/7/06, Rating: -1
RE: Actually Impressive
By Crusader on 12/7/06, Rating: 0
RE: Actually Impressive
By Xenoid on 12/8/2006 2:09:16 AM , Rating: 2
You cant pull songs off an iPod at all (without alot of work)

You can do it quite easily. I have a small EXE file (forget the name) on my Ipod that will rip songs off it and onto a computer and it works within 2 clicks.

RE: Actually Impressive
By Topweasel on 12/7/2006 4:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
Not your files but those that are unprotected that you send to other people will be DRM laden to enforce the 3 day 3 play.

RE: Actually Impressive
By MDE on 12/7/2006 5:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Zune doesn't add DRM to anything that didn't have it to begin with, unless you send it to another Zune over WiFi. The Zune is actually MORE open than the iPod because Micro$haft (sarcasm if you didn't catch that) actually lets you sync songs from your Zune back to the PC, DRM-infested or not. Try that with an iPod and you'll throw the thing through a wall.

RE: Actually Impressive
By joeld on 12/7/2006 5:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
I almost wiped the music on my ipod once by connecting it to another computer's blank library and I almost hit sync... NOt good!

RE: Actually Impressive
By kelmon on 12/8/2006 3:24:10 AM , Rating: 1
Pardon? Impressive? The interface is pretty good but beyond that it's a half-baked product consisting of half-baked ideas where the priorities were completely screwed up. Honestly, what use is sharing capabilities when no one owns these players yet? What incentive is there to buy one? Why on earth didn't they include wireless syncing, the one feature almost anyone with a modern computer could have taken advantage of on Day 1?

While I own an 80GB iPod I don't have that much invested in it and would consider other devices if they did as much. The Zune lacks so many features that I take for granted on the iPod that until it is updated (either new model or hefty firmware update) I would not consider it.

Sorry but the Zune was quite obviously a rush job and the implementation is lacklustre at best. That said, I do think it shows promise and a decent revision would make it a player in the market but presently it's definitely another "also ran".

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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