Survey: 58% of iPod owners planning another MP3 player purchase will consider Microsoft’s Zune

A new survey conducted by ABI Research has shown that many prospective MP3 player buyers—even owners of iPods—would be likely to choose Microsoft’s Zune player. 1725 teenage and adult US residents were asked whether they planned to buy an MP3 player in the next 12 months. Of those responding that they were likely to do so, 58% of those identifying themselves as existing iPod owners and 59% of those who owned other brands said they would be “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to choose a Microsoft Zune player over an iPod or another brand of MP3 player.

“Our conclusion,” says principal analyst Steve Wilson, “is that iPod users don’t display the same passionate loyalty to iPods that Macintosh users have historically shown for their Apple products.” Only 15% of iPod owners said they were “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to choose Zune.

So is Zune attractive enough to build anything like iPod’s massive sales record? ABI Research believes that a critical factor will be whether or not Microsoft can differentiate the Zune from competing products in some meaningful way. One differentiator, Zune’s Wi-Fi peer-to-peer sharing, which Microsoft is playing up heavily, “isn’t all that compelling, at least not now,” notes Wilson. “There’s a lot more you could do with that capability.”

But given the results of ABI Research’s survey, Apple will need to make some big announcements in 2007 if it is to maintain its edge in the industry. Says Wilson, “Apple needs a new high-end device that works really well and looks really cool, because other brands are catching up.”

The survey results are contained in ABI Research’s study, “Microsoft’s Zune”, which explores what Zune’s new features, connectivity with Xbox, and Zune Marketplace mean for Apple, for Rhapsody, or for the PlaysForSure program. It forms part of the Consumer Electronic Research Service, which also includes Research Reports, Research Briefs, Market Data, ABI Insights, and analyst inquiry support.

Methodology: data contained within this report is derived from a Web-based survey among a nationally-balanced and demographically-representative sample of 1,725 online consumers (age 18 and older). The consumer survey was conducted in October 2006. Respondents were provided a photo and description of the Microsoft Zune device before being asked about their likelihood to choose it over a competitive MP3 player.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in broadband and multimedia, RFID & contactless, M2M, wireless connectivity, mobile wireless, transportation, and emerging technologies. For information visit:
“Respondents were provided a photo and description of the Microsoft Zune device before being asked about their likelihood to choose it over a competitive MP3 player.” Was the photo of the Zune shown next to an iPod or the iPod family? What exactly was the description of the Zune provided in the survey?

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  1. As an iPod owner, (20GB 3rd Gen, 4GB 1st Gen Nano) I find this study very hard to believe. I don’t see any features of the Zune that would convince me to buy it instead of the current 30Gb iPod.

    Did they only question people in some sort of mental health facility?

  2. I’ve taken a survey like this and the questions are often loaded. It could say something like: “Would you like a player that wirelessly shares music with your friends?” without explaining the zune’s limitations.

  3. That’s crap. iPod related or not, it’s quite obvious that being explicitly shown something and having it described to you is going to put that product in your mind. What would the percentages be if they just used the description “portable music player”? I bet the vast majority would say iPod, for most people that’s all they know. Of course, once Zune advertising kicks in who is to say that they can’t raise awareness? Maybe they will sell, but the way they went about that seems flawed.

  4. The question might have been:

    Q1. Mobile phones can play MP3s, along with iPods and Zunes. Do you plan to buy an MP3 player other than iPod in the next year?

    It seems to be a manipulative survey by pooling Zunes with all other MP3 players. Ask people honestly “Do you plan to buy a Zune?”. If they don’t ask honestly, I must assume the survey is being paid for and therefore not worthy of trust.

    Competitors must be much better, cheaper or redefine the game. This is why Macintoshes are beating PCs in growth and the same goes for any other product. iPods are better, not cheaper, but redefine our uses of music-PDAs.

  5. The 58% who were seriously considering buying Zune instead of iPod were
    a) over 30
    b) not iPod owners
    c) not Mac owners
    That was not a multiple choice, by the way, unless the answer was “d) all the above”. I may be over 30 – twice – and not particularly dedicated to “cool”, but I know second-rate when I see it. Zune barely qualifies for that rating.

    It’s interesting how they have to parse the market on these things. The Zune can’t compete with the nano or the shuffle, and these make up the bulk of iPod sales, don’t they? So … they only asked about Zune vs 80GB iPod?

    Someone should sue them for misrepresenting the significance of their results.
    MW = program – what they should “get with”

  6. dogfriend

    They conducted the survey from the readership of such apple hate sites as ipodsucks macsucks and dieappledie

    Kinda pathetic that only 58% of the sight members would consider switching. I thought the number would be much higher

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  7. This data is completely meaningless unless we know if they would consider any other MP3 player as well. If 50-some-odd percent said they would be ‘somewhat likely’ to consider a Sansa, for example, then we could draw some conclusions, because we know how many people actually *buy* them. We don’t know how many people will actually buy a Zune because they haven’t sold a single one of ’em yet.


    MW: “their” (means something belonging to ‘them’. ‘They’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are’. This is something that is no longer taught in school.)

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