by Joseph Weisenthal

Microsoft Spinmeisters Hard At Work Defending Zune Sales

from the candidate-zune dept

Microsoft's approach to launching the Zune feels a little bit like a politician managing expectations. First they try to build up as much hype as possible. Then when it looks like the poll numbers aren't coming in as high as they promised, they insist that they expected it would be a tough fight. But when all the pundits start writing off the politician as dead, they come back and say things are trending up, and that they're exceeding (internal) expectations. There's been a raft of stories about how poorly the Zune has fared this holiday season, but Microsoft insists that it's on track to sell 1 million Zunes by the middle of next year. That sounds like a big number, but it would still be a small sliver of the total market, and puts the company far behind the iPod. What's interesting about the sales figures, though, is that the Zune hasn't even emerged as the anti-iPod, the first choice among shoppers who don't want an iPod. It's actually fallen to fifth, after an initial boost. What's happening is that people who are going to shell out for a premium music player are buying iPods, while people looking for something cheaper and less stylish are buying commodity products, from the likes of Sandisk, whose product is basically a souped up flash drive. This doesn't leave much space for the Zune, which is seen as neither as nice as an iPod, or different enough. Of course, like a politician, there's no doubt that Microsoft will try to recast the Zune in a different light if things don't start to improve.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 2:18pm

    Just wait till somebody hacks Zune to run Linux...

    ... then I'll buy one, to use without the DRM crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Innerdaemon, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 2:54pm

    How did they get the 1M number?

    According to initial estimates, Zune has sold anywhere from 150K-300K this holiday season. I'll be generous and suggest they sold at the highest end: 500K. The 1M number in June would mean that Microsoft expects zero slowdown in sales after the holiday season - an assumption which bucks every historical trend for any product category during the last ten years. Unless they have some super secret marketing plan the 1M number sounds like something "squirted" from, er, you know where.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Faz, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:30pm


    maybe they will sell 500K and then count the other 500K as the replacements they send for the code errors and security breaches HAHHAAHA

    sorry i am busting on MS here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Norm, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    Anti-iPod will take time

    No music player, either backed by the monstrosity that is MS or not, will become an "Anti-iPod" in the short time that the Zune has been available. Don't think that I'm defending MS's "spinmeisters" because they were the ones touting their product as such. However, the Zune does have some nice features (i get this from reviews, not personal experience) so it may have a chance. But its going to take time, holiday season or not. Also, I'm with InnerDaemon on his quick figuring: 1 Mil seems a bit much, but did I just defeat my own argument? Only time will tell...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Bob Potato, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:45pm

    I lurve Microsoft Products. The Zune is awesome. Just lacks a web browser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Tashi, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 4:06pm

    I'll keep my PSP, thank you very much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 4:13pm

    Like someone said, DRM crap. If Microsoft wouldn't so obviously align itself with the RIAA and MPAA, then they might find a little more success in selling products which watch movies and play songs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Cleverboy, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 4:25pm


    Guess what people? I'm sure Microsoft is already developing strategies that play to its strengths... dissolution of choice and bundling! They'll find a spidery way to make it work. Mark my words. We'll all be screaming about it in a few months.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jim Gramze, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Just wait till somebody hacks Zune to run Linu

    ... then I'll buy one, to use without the DRM crap.

    Which player can you not use now without the "DRM" crap? Whether you rip your own or pirate non-DRM'ed content, devices such as the iPod will play them without any grief at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Trvth Jvstice, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:02pm

    Once the news starts spreading how great the Zune is, it'll really start selling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:05pm

    Missed opportunity!

    The only company that has the power and influence to stand up to the RIAA & MPAA when developing a new product was MS. Unfortunately they choose not to do so and took the other road instead giving in completely to them, making their product not only more restrictive than the iPod with silly gimmick features but also completely turning their back on their playforsure customers.

    They could have done something revolutionary instead they polished mediocrity and served it up with wifi.

    The Zune is MS's Newton

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:21pm

    The next marketing ploy will be a free Zune with every copy of Vista Premium you buy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    John Bailey, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:26pm

    Zune to zero

    Personally I wouldn't touch a DRM capable player of any kind. For those that do though, the Plays for sure scheme was at least a credible alternative to iTunes. Zune and it's dedicated music store are a bad joke. Not because MS made it, but because the idea of setting up a whole system around one late arrival in the digital music player scene is pretty daft.

    The Wifi feature is a dead loss if you don't know anybody who has another Zune. The only practical use I can see for it is to use the system to push advertising to anybody who passes within range of a transmitter. So what is left for MS to add to the deal and make it attractive that others don't already have? All this and they stabbed their plays for sure partners in the back too.. This Zune seems to be a dud. Perhaps the Zune 2 will be more credible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    ScytheNoire, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:32pm

    DRM = Failure

    i think with all the press the Zune got about it's DRM and how Microsoft cateered to the RIAA and MPAA, it scared off all the early buyers, which are usually tech-geeks. these are the same people who read those type of news releases, and thus, they are avoiding the Zune like the DRM-plague.

    same can be said about any new technologies with DRM issues, the early adopters, the tech-geeks, will avoid it. DRM will kill your product these days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Dr. A, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:38pm

    sell it to russia/china/etc

    While in America people buy music from online stores and get pissed because they have to buy the same song 3-5 times, some big parts of this planet still share unprotected content and don't care about DRM. Now if they start selling there at a nice price ..... that million is not out of touch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Republican Gun, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:03pm

    Still waiting...

    I'm still waiting for the UMPC( ultra mobile PC) they promised. You know, the one that has a full OS and a battery that would last eight hours. But alas, no, they com out with this crap instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Reed, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 7:26pm

    Best Portable Media Player

    A friend of mine recently purchased a Cowon A2 a great portable media player with a 4 inch widescreen!

    You can check it out here


    With the ability to record Radio, Audio to MP3, and Video to MP4 one has to wonder why you would even waste time with a Ipod or Zune

    I threw many different video formats at it and it played everything flawlessly. That is extremely cool considering the limitations on most portable media player in regards to formats (Cowon plays Divx, Xvid, MP4, OGG and many more formats)

    Plus on top of it all the device actually multi-tasks! It is no surprise though to discover Linux under the hood.

    It is amazing what devices are capable of when you don't have major conglamerates breathing down your neck telling you what you can or can't do with a device.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Dom, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Best Portable Media Player

    Heh, this seems like a bit of an ad... I wonder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Neurothustra, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 6:38am

    So many derisions, so few owners

    I bought a Zune. I balked at the DRM in place, as well as the kickbacks the record companies get from MS with each sale of a device. The 3 Plays or 3 Days thing didn't tickle me either. I could go back and forth defending Microsoft in a hypertext point-counterpoint, but the reality is that the Zune is really good. Most of the reviews confess to being surprised that it *doesn't* suck. And the people behind the Zune are the same ones behind the Xbox, which started slow and became very strong. Besides, the Zune really is a nice piece of hardware. The 3 Days/Plays grew on me, and my girlfriend and I use it oftenm in a "hey, check this out" way. Seems like this kind of thing is destined to evolve, and the only real gripe I have is the continued lack of support for Podcasting by Microsoft (I mean, isn't podcasting a very significant part of iPod's success? MS can't possibly have overlooked this...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 9:34am

    Re: So many derisions, so few owners

    I was waiting for someone who actually HAD the device to comment on it. I'm an iPod person (mainly because I'm also an Apple person) but I don't automatically dismiss the Zune as a failure (ZOMG MS is dead for sure). Instead, I hope it spurs Apple into innovating beyond bigger hard drives and new colors.
    I'm not sold on the Zune (even though I'm an X-Box user) and I doubt I ever will own a Zune, since I doubt MS will bother with the small percentage of Mac users out there.
    But specifically in response to the podcasting issue you brought up, do you think maybe MS is resisting because they don't want anything with the word 'pod' in the name on the Zune? Maybe they'll come out with ZuneCasts?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    greyst1crash, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:12am

    Apple Innovation

    While I have been converted to an Apple person (thank god) and will probably never buy a Zune, I do see some of the potential selling points and nice features that the Zune has. Like another poster said, I'm hoping Apple looks at the Zune and innovates the iPod to have some similar features, the main one being wi-fi. That to me is a nice feature. I would just like to see it without the 3 plays/3days crap. People would love this feature if it were available on an iPod. In my opinion, Apple has to continue to innovate the iPod, otherwise, despite how popular it is, eventually something will come to replace it. I think Apple will hit it big with the iPhone and with some new Video iPods rumored to be coming around shortly. So while I hope the Zune crashes and burns, I also hope Apple takes a look at it, sees what it can do to make the iPod better and continue to release amazing products.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Reed, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Best Portable Media Player

    "Heh, this seems like a bit of an ad... I wonder."

    Nope, just a testimonial. I post here once and awhile and read regularly. I am just amazed on how weak American corporate products are. We could make products that did so much more if big industry did not conspire against it.

    The Cowon A2 is just one example of what is possible, and it is an amazing device that I have spent many hours already playing with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Dave, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:34am

    What's funny is...

    What's funny is that stories like this exist. It seems like every time Microsoft is failing in some way, out come these puff pieces. They provide a whole bunch of meaningless stats that show how they really aren't failing (no really!!). Then they talk about how much they are spending to make it a success. It's like they think if they put out enough articles saying that the Zune is selling, the sheep will follow. Unfortunately for them, the consumer has spoken, and they are all saying they want iPods, despite the marginal feature improvements the Zune offers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Stephen, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:50am

    I doubt Universal will get much traction on the upcoming contract renegotiations with Apple.

    Hey, MS gave us a cut of their player. You should too!

    You got a cut of the 7th? most popular player and none of the others, huh. Good for you. Now, do you want to sell music through iTunes or not?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    zuneone, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 11:09am

    Give em time

    Microsoft is just getting started, it always takes them a few tries to get it right!

    I am the happy owner of the beautiful and functional Brown Zune wouldn't go near an iPod!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    NPG, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 11:19am

    Re: What's funny is...

    Speark for yourself Dave. Not everyone wants an iPod. Not everyone is a follower aka sheep :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    SailorAlphaCentauri, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    Still won't get a Zune...

    because I can't afford it and have no friends to share music with.

    As it is, I own an old Memorex mp3 player with 64mb memory and it accepts 256 SD cards and it has great sound and will last ~25 hours on 1 AA battery. I had bought one of those MobiBlu 2gig cube players and the batter life was short (~5hours) and was only good for the radio feature until the damn thing died last week (had it ~6 months).

    As much as I'd like to pretend that I'm going to get a new mp3 player, I'm probably not going to turn away from my 2-year-old player to get an iPod or a Zune (not a big fan of the X-box either). I may get a new machine if it's the right price, but odds are it won't be something mainstream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    SailorAlphaCentauri, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 12:10pm

    What I meant was

    it accepts 256 megabyte cards. The only downside is that newegg.com no longer sells cards smaller than 512 megabytes (and they had the best price on them).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    iWindoze, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    ROTFLMAO! 'Plays for Sure'™

    I was over at a few stores with my folks over the thanksgiving holiday, and not surprisingly all the sales people were trying to push the zune. My mother was hoping to pick up a nice MP3 Player for my Dad to use when he works. While looking around and talking to the sales people I actually had a nice ten minute conversation explaining the whole 'Plays for Sure'™ debacle with regards to the zune to a couple of them.

    They'd never heard of the situation until I'd mentioned it, neither had a couple of teens that were looking over the selection in the store and decided to hold off on purchasing a zune until they did a bit of looking around online to confirm my story.

    The zune's biggest flaw is the fact it DOESN'T 'Play for Sure'™. Thanks to Microsoft screwing over all their business partners on the RIAA's say so when the DRM was cracked on *.wma the zune is unable to play all the audio files people have been buying at the Microsoft stores. This is the reason why ultimately the zune WILL become Microsoft's biggest flop since 'MS Bob'


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Just wait till somebody hacks Zune to run

    > Which player can you not use now without the "DRM" crap?

    I was referring about the contagious DRM that automatically attaches itself to the files you beam to another zune.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Chandrasiri Samaratunga, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 8:46pm

    Re: How did they get the 1M number?

    New category of sales - Vapour sales

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    JK87, Dec 18th, 2006 @ 12:10am


    OK, so that 1 million by June is "only a small sliver" of the overall market.

    You know how big that "small sliver" would be? Almost the EXACRT same size of he sliver of hte computer market that Apple currently has.

    Hmmmm, achieving about 3% market share after 6 months, or achieving 3% marketshare after over 25 YEARS, including being the market leader at one point?

    So...you can't have it both ways, fanboys. If the Zune is afailure, that Apple computers is an even BIGGER one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    JK87, Dec 18th, 2006 @ 12:13am

    Re: How did they get the 1M number?

    Zero slow down in sales? You are not good in math, are you? Let's say it is 400,000. In one month. A "zero slow down in sales" would mean 2.8 million by the end of June. They are figuring a 75% reduction after Christmas.

    Yet somehow I bet you are one of hte idiots who thinks that Apple will sell 9 million computers next year based on the fact that this quarter they are expecting to sell a record high 2.25 million. And Apple fans thinks that they will sustain even GREATER sales rates for an entire year than they got during their BEST holiday season.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Jon, Dec 28th, 2006 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: What's funny is...

    "Not everyone wants an iPod. Not everyone is a follower aka sheep :-)"

    Sheep? You mean like Windoze running PC users?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Shaun Kelly, Jan 14th, 2007 @ 10:49pm

    Microsoft Zune

    This is getting dumb, Microsoft NEVER stated the Zune would be an "IPOD KILLER" this is something that the media has said and Ipod lovers have taken this as something that Microsoft wanted. Microsoft has the ability to make the Zune work, Microsoft has the software and the innovation to compete with Apple. But, most importantly, Microsoft has the money to make it work. People keep on comparing the Zune sales to that of the Ipod and that is just stupid. If you look at the Zune sales themselves, they aren't bad, they are less than expected, but aren't bad for new tech. Remember, the Ipod didn't explode off the shelves the first month it was released. I am a Mac fan and have ran a mac my entire life, but I am stating the truth. I always thought the Ipod was too feminine for me, and I liked how the zune was more rugged, that is why I run one on my Mac Book Pro with windows.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    CGrindahl, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 12:30pm


    It may be true that Microsoft has never spoken the words "The Zune will kill iPod" but lets be frank. Microsoft who has a huge bankroll has never been an innovator. It has built its empire by embracing technology developed by others, tying the product to its near monopoly in operating systems which it inherited from IBM who embraced MS-DOS, and then bludgeoned the competition into submission. The best example of the strategy is how MS bludgeoned Netscape with an inferior product, Internet Exploreer. Does anyone doubt they hope to do the same with their mp3 music player? Of course, a piece of hardware is different from a piece of software, requiring attention to design and marketing, neither of which have proved to be strong suits for MS.

    I arrived on this site because I was curious how sales have been going for the Zune. Interestingly, Microsoft is not releasing sales figures, promising only that one million will be sold by June. Yes, and football teams often buy unsold seats to avoid blackout of their games. I sense a thunderous yawn with regard to this product. I remain curious about how it will unfold. The fact the man in charge of the product recently left may simply be coincidental. But there may be problems in paradise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    iPoder, Feb 11th, 2007 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: What's funny is...

    Sheep? Who is on the 95% market-share OS? Thought leaders or low roaders? BTW if 95% market share equals quality then McDonalds is the world's best restaurant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    qwertyuiop, Feb 11th, 2007 @ 3:25pm

    reverse engineering

    An earlier post here by John Bailey reeks of good sense and a practical understanding of corporate motivations.

    Microsoft is the ultimate artiste of reverse engineering. No product that is born to the cowardice of reverse engineering will stand out from the crowd. Normally such products crash. Like Tupolovs (USSR's RV'd Boeings) and Windows. At least when a Tupolov crashes it makes headlines worldwide. The 'Blue Screen of (inevitable) Death' is not news worthy. The 'blue screen' is a bit like our daily ablutions. Windows however would never suffer from constipation. The 'Blue Screen' is apparently - according to independent industry statistics - something that happens , on average, twice a day to windows based computers. No constipation here! Nice and regular. Great bowel movement.
    To all those posters on this site that say something like "just wait, MS will get it right just like it always does" I have this o say:

    How long has windows been polluting the world? How many decades will it take for this behemoth to get the basics of its industry right?

    I work with MAC OS X and Windows.

    I never thought that microsofton would ever lose its monopoly. Now I'm sure it will. Vista has sealed the deal. MS has finally attempted to reverse engineer something that is far beyond its ability to replicate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    qwertyuiop, Feb 11th, 2007 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re: How did they get the 1M number?

    What % of people can boast an iq of 164 or more? What % of people drive a decent car - ie Merc, Porsche, Maybach etc? What % of people enjoy a superior OS for their computer?
    I would say that the % of people that use (and God forbid support) windows is directly inverse to the % of people tha know what a Maybach is.

    You Jk... id say you got your IQ close to the mark. 87! But personally I think you're being optimistic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    wr81, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 12:02am


    ...OK, it's been a few months... is anyone screaming for Zune?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    wr81, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 1:46am


    Replying to my own comment is silly, I know...

    ...but I don't even know anyone who has a Zune.

    And as for Amazon ranking - it's not even in the top Electronics 100, while the 30GB iPod is - today - at #2. And there are iPods and iPod accessories peppered throughout the top 100 items. Even "Fellowes Powershred Lubricant Cutter Oil for Confetti-Cut Shredders" is beating the Zune.

    If Microsoft's intention was to sell these devices, they've failed already. Even the initial advertising was... well, bad. I predict it will be the Ford Edsel of music/video playback devices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Tim, Feb 19th, 2007 @ 2:13pm


    I own a zune and love it. and if you get the Zune cucusoft converter. You can paly anything on the zune. I rent dvds and put them on the zune with this software. it is great

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    mr fixit, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 4:32am

    zune hits 1 million in sales..

    because Microsoft is buying back their own devices to inflate the numbers and make it look like people actually want to own one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    hsudusauvhsdauv, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 10:57am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    MY DICK HURTZ!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    DC, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Superman suckz batman rules biatches

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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