“Hindered by a failure to sell large numbers of digital music players, Microsoft is singing a new Zune,” Olga Kharif reports for BusinessWeek.

“A few weeks before releasing a new version of its MP3 player called Zune HD, Microsoft is taking extraordinary steps to court software developers to create applications for the device, which competes with Apple’s hugely successful iPod and iPhone,” Kharif reports. “One developer of a popular iPhone application for reading Twitter messages says Microsoft recently approached him about re-creating the software to run on Zune, with Microsoft footing the bill for development costs.”

“The programmer declined, but Microsoft’s offer speaks to the company’s legendary persistence at trying to make successes out of products that fail to excite customers the first or second time around. Along with Zune HD, Microsoft is making a Zune service available for delivering movies to Microsoft’s Xbox video game console,” Kharif reports. “A Zune-branded music service for the Xbox, cell phones, and PCs is in the works as well. ‘The business is entertainment,’ says Brian Seitz, group marketing manager with Microsoft Zune. ‘The mobile device or the MP3 player is just one screen that can use the service. To erase the iPod is not what the vision was. The business is the service.'”

Kharif reports, “Sales of Zunes have been meager. Microsoft has sold about 3 million Zunes in the player’s three years of availability. By comparison, Apple sold 10.2 million iPods between March and June of this year.”

MacDailyNews Note: Here’s a better comparison, Olga. It’s called a direct comparison. It tends to give the clearest perspective: In the last three years, Apple sold 159.124 million iPods plus 21.17 million iPhones (which, of course, also contain iPods) for a grand total of 180.294 million units.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Blatantly attempting to rewrite history will not make a success of the abject failure known as “Zune.” Apple kicked Microsoft’s ass without even trying.

If Microsoft had a real leader in charge, the brand name “Zune” would have been dropped long ago as all it does it hurt Microsoft by constantly highlighting the company’s penchant for poorly following Apple’s every move. That Microsoft seems happy to continue trumpeting “Zune” to its detriment is a testament to what happens when you let the sales guy try to run the company. Zune is a laughingstock failure that was extremely late to market, lacked compelling features and, in the hands of someone with even a modicum of competency, never would have been released, much less allowed to continue being fired off daily into Microsoft’s collective foot.

As always, Microsoft has foolishly showed its weak hand early while Apple stands ready to unveil this year’s new iPods and pricing very soon.

All that said, raise a glass: “May Steve Ballmer remain Microsoft’s CEO for as long as it takes!”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "James W." for the heads up.]