BusinessWeek: ‘By this time next year, Microsoft’s Zune will be considered a dismal failure’

“After five years of pummeling us with the iPod and its associated iTunes music service and some 3,000 accessories, Apple is poised to face what some might say is its first real challenger. And that challenger is Microsoft’s digital music player, Zune, which is poised to hit the market on Nov. 14 with the express intent of encroaching on Apple’s turf,” Arik Hesseldahl writes for BusinessWeek.

“I can’t fault Microsoft for envying Apple’s success. (And it’s not exactly the first time that Microsoft has looked on enviously at something that Apple does.) Even for Microsoft, which took in $44.6 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal year, a product that brings in $7.6 billion in sales a year is nothing to sneeze at. Over five years, Apple has sold nearly 70 million iPods worth nearly $14 billion—all that at gross margin estimated to be at or near 50%,” Hesseldahl writes. “So does the Zune have a chance?”

Hesseldahl writes, “But so far, the device doesn’t have much to offer compared with the iPod. It will come in only one storage capacity, and that isn’t all that high, especially when you consider that it’s intended to play a mix of music and video. The Zune won’t have all that many accessories, won’t integrate with any cars, and doesn’t support any language other than English.”

“So what does Zune offer the potential iPod-hater beyond the fact that it’s not an iPod? For one, there’s wireless connectivity… But how many times a day do you really feel like sharing a song that’s playing on your personal player with someone else? It’s almost more efficient, and more permanent given the ‘3-play 3-day’ limitations on playing shared songs I’ve been hearing about, to burn a CD and give that to your friend,” Hesseldahl writes.

Hesseldahl writes, “You have to be cool to know cool. And since when is Microsoft cool? The iPod was cool from birth. The Zune will be seen for what it is: a me-too product that is expressing Microsoft’s envy at not being cool. It will carve out its own niche of the market, but by this time next year, it will be considered a dismal failure.”

Full article here.
Independent Zune reviews, while somewhat repetitive, are still quite fun to read. We have to imagine that Hesseldahl’s “dismal failure” line launched at least one chair and caused several F-bombs to be dropped in Uncle Fester’s office this morning. We honestly can’t recall another product that’s been so heavily publicized, yet so poorly received as Microsoft’s brown squirter.

Related articles:
USA Today’s Baig: Microsoft Zune is no Apple iPod – November 09, 2006
Forbes: Microsoft’s Zune stinks; like ‘Microsoft Bob,’ only more embarrassing – November 09, 2006
NY Times’ Pogue: Zune should come in green to match Microsoft’s iPod envy – November 09, 2006
Mossberg: MS Zune has ‘too many compromises, missing features’ vs. ‘thin, sleek, elegant’ Apple iPod – November 09, 2006
Microsoft to pay Universal for every Zune sold – November 09, 2006
Analysts: Microsoft Zune may end up being a flop – November 08, 2006
Are 58% of iPod owners really thinking of a Zune switch? – November 08, 2006
Survey: 58% of iPod owners planning another MP3 player purchase will consider Microsoft’s Zune – November 01, 2006
Zune is from Microsoft, but Microsoft doesn’t want anybody to know about it – November 07, 2006
Microsoft Zune to be US-only, no firm plans to launch anywhere else globally – November 03, 2006
Five Microsoft Zune TV commercials – November 02, 2006
JupiterResearch: Apple’s iPod will dominate for foreseeable future; Microsoft’s Zune insignificant – October 25, 2006
Ellen DeGeneres Show gives away Microsoft Zunes, studio audience goes berserk – October 23, 2006
More Microsoft Zune myths explored – October 20, 2006
Five more Microsoft Zune myths – October 18, 2006
Microsoft Zune intensifies chaos in Apple iPod+iTunes also-ran market – October 16, 2006
Newsweek Q&A: Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses iPod’s impact, Microsoft’s Zune, and more – October 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Ballmer: Zune device not money loser, wishes Apple’s 30GB iPod was $299 instead of $249 – October 11, 2006
Microsoft’s consumer electronics track record: long string of failures – October 11, 2006 founder: ‘Zune will be an expensive failure for Microsoft because consumers aren’t stupid’ – October 06, 2006
Microsoft fails to secure key Zune domains – October 04, 2006
Microsoft rigs Zune with tricky pricing and proprietary money schemes – October 03, 2006
Why Microsoft’s Zune won’t kill Apple’s iPod – October 03, 2006
10 Apple iPod vs. Microsoft Zune myths – October 02, 2006
Analyst: Zune could lead to ‘civil war’ between Microsoft and Windows Media partners – September 29, 2006
Thurrott on Microsoft’s Zune: ‘The makings of a disaster, what the heck are these people thinking?’ – September 29, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune’s as good as dead on arrival – September 28, 2006
Microsoft sets 30GB Zune price at $249.99 – September 28, 2006
How Microsoft’s Zune can kill Apple’s iPod – September 21, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune insanity – September 21, 2006
The Microsoft Zune 1.0 dud – September 20, 2006
Microsoft’s underwhelming Zune a ‘viral DRM’ device – September 18, 2006
SanDisk teams with RealNetworks against new common foe: Microsoft Zune – September 18, 2006
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Motley Fool’s Jayson: Microsoft’s ‘just plain ugly’ Zune a meager offering, not an iPod killer – September 15, 2006
What’s in a name? ‘Zune’ a French-Canadian euphemism for penis or vagina – September 15, 2006
Crave at CNET: ‘Microsoft Zune, all the excitement that brown can bring’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune underwhelms – September 15, 2006
Enderle: Microsoft Zune ‘a design mistake’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft hypocrisy exposed with Zune: What ever happened to ‘choice?’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune with fake scroll wheel ‘hardly an Apple iPod killer’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune won’t spoil Apple’s biggest iPod Christmas ever – September 14, 2006
Microsoft unveils Zune 30GB player, Zune Marketplace; declines to disclose prices – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s Zune an ‘underwhelming’ repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat; no threat to Apple iPod – August 30, 2006
Microsoft confirms brick-like Zune to be made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft Zune is chunky brick made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft to sell single Zune model this fall, rumors of Wi-Fi capability were greatly exaggerated – August 10, 2006
Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions, several years on Zune trying to catch Apple iPod+iTunes – July 27, 2006
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006


  1. At the risk of repeating myself and others in the MDN forum, just wait until the general public gets its hands on one of these iTurds and sees for itself what a rip-off it really is!

    No video. No click wheel. No previously-purchased “Plays For Sure” songs. No real, lasting “squirting” of songs to others. Only 30GB of storage space. No “podcasting.” No audiobooks. No free-standing songs of ANY kind, those ripped from one’s purchased CDs or created with “Garageband.”

    Let the howling (and returning to the store of purcahse) begin!


    “C’mon giys, there’s still a chance.
    I mean, what if a strange and mysterious virus plagues iTunes?
    What if brown is the next white?
    What if we put out a contract on a certain genuis?
    OK, maybe we just threaten to…
    Unless MacHeads buy a Zune-they will lose their leader!!!!
    Let’s get advertising and retail in here NOW!!! And WHERE ARE ALL MY CHAIRS?????”


  3. Before you guys knocks off Microsoft, consider this scenario. Microsoft is applying the same Xbox methodoly to the Zune. Sure, lots of people thought they were nutts for taking on the PS2. and look at them now. Sony is falling all over itself and Xbox is set to take over the Gaming industry.

    So too will the Zune. at least that is the conventional wisdom. Microsoft will hang on to Zune and pour all their Billions into this program, ramp up feature, and usability, new models and marketshare.

    One thing Apple has to its benefit is that Apple is not Sony. They will not sit and wait for Microsoft to catch up. they are releasing new products next year with the iphone. New features, like social networking, new hardward with the touchscreen, new partnership with Google. and if all else fails, open up the iPod platform to other vendors.

    Hopefully, Apple will do all of these sooner rather than later. or else they are roadkills by the Microsoft bully giant.

  4. The sales numbers will tell the true tale. And when they come out next spring, mark my words, it will be clear to all that the Zune is a dismal failure. These things flat out aren’t going to sell over the holidays, you can book it.

  5. Sportsunit,
    Does shilling for the Evil Empire pay better than your old job at the DMV?

    If you had links to favorable reviews of MS’s latest failure, you would have posted them. Just pretending that they exist makes you the pathetic one.


  6. Looking Back: Yes, but you are also forgetting that this market wasn’t well established back then. The iPod shaped the portable Digital Music Player market. This market is now well established, and the Zune is trying to get into it as a later player. It has way too many things to overcome to make a seriously run at the iPod hold on that market, and from what all the reviews are saying, it doesn’t even come close to challenging the iPod hegemony. The chances of that happening with Microsoft are pretty slim, no matter how much money they put behind it. Maybe Zune 3.0 or Zune 5.0 will do better, but right now, the Zune has about as much chance stopping the iPod Tsunami as a fruitfly stopping a 747. Microsoft hasn’t figured out that this isn’t like the Mac vs Windows thing of the 90’s. Throwing a half-effort into a rebranded music player with 1/3 of the promised features, no supporting add-on ecosystem, and no ‘cool’ is not going to help you topple a giant. In this game, Microsoft has to *innovate*, and as we’ve seen in the past, they aren’t exactly good at doing that. Remember Microsoft Bob?

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