Zune Falls Before iPod’s Market Share

by Mark Stephenson on March 15, 2011 · 329 comments

If you ask somebody who owns a Zune to describe it, nine times out of ten, their answer will be “It’s like an iPod, but, you know, different.” At which point, they’ll then go on to describe why they either hate or love the device, while still never giving you a clearer picture than that generalized quote. Since microsoft launched the Zune in 2006, this has been the issue that has plauged it at every turn – the comparison factor – and now with the rumor going around that they’re giving the Zune hardware the official kibosh – thanks unnamed sources have approached bloomberg again – the word on the street is that the iPod finally drove it’s competing MP3 player under. Has it? Let’s run the numbers.

According to NPD numbers, Apple held roughly 77% product sales in the portable music player market last year with the iPod product line. Microsoft with Zune? Less than one. And even though their products have reviewed pretty well, their media presence has never been large enough to establish more than passing brand familiarity. Whereas iPod is a household name – I’ve seen toddler manage to work their mouths around the word – Zune is something which simply does not carry the same recognition. Can it be something as simple as marketing, though?

Do people even know what that thing is?

More numbers: when Microsoft first launched the Zune in 2006, they spent 9 million in advertising. It is now supposedly being taken off the market. When Microsoft first launched the windows 7 phone, they spent between 400 and 500 million in marketing. It is now doing reasonably well against the iPhone.


See the difference?


Assuming the rumor is true – after all they did just announce that they’ll be selling the Zune HD in Canada – and that the Zune harware platform is going to be shelved, and the software is going to be expanded into some sort of app-like feature of windows 7 based phones, the Zune will go down in history as the portable media player that tried, and lost to the iPod. Due to both their own underestimation of launch advertising, and the sheer size of the iPod market share, Microsoft has found themselves left out of the portable media player market, and, in many ways, it’s the iPod’s fault.

When you’ve got a product line so large that there’s an entire submarket of knockoffs that companies actively compete in, you know you’re selling pretty well. When one of the main ‘competitors’ that most people think or talk about only occupies one percent of the market with their products, and has platform compatibility issues, you also know you’re selling pretty well. From Apple’s perspective, the Zune hasn’t even been a blip on the radar, let alone a threat to their hold on the market. The Zune is dead. Long live the Zune.

So, do you own a Zune? Do you believe the rumors, or do you think Microsoft will be able to beat Apple’s hold on the market’ eventually Post your opinion in the comments! (thanks to clickzune for the image)

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