NPD: Zune sees ‘10.2%’ share of music player market in Dec., no word on post-Xmas returns [UPDATED]

“Apple Inc. sold a record 21 million iPods for the holiday quarter, which helped boost the company’s revenues by 50% and accounted for sales of $3.43 billion–half of Apple’s total sales for the quarter, the company reported this week,” Emily Burg reports for MediaPost’s Marketing Daily.

Burg reports, “Stellar sales have earned the iPod a 72% share of the portable music player market, although Microsoft’s Zune is making progress. Retail research firm NPD Group report that for December, Zune represented 10.2% of all units sold.”

Full article here.
Okay, Zune’s at what NPD calls “10.2%” for December which just about accounts for early adopters, Microsoft employees, the mentally-challenged, and confused grandparents’ Christmas shopping mistakes. So, what are the Zune’s post-holiday return rates? We probably won’t hear about that issue, so we can hardly wait to see what NPD finds for Zune’s market share in January.

By the way, make that “10.2% of 30GB music players in the U.S,” as Microsoft marketing director Jason Reindorp told The Washington Post, not “10.2% of the portable music player market” as incorrectly reported by Burg above.

Oh, one more little thing: NPD does not report sales from Apple Retail Stores, the Apple Store online, Wal-Mart, or Amazon, among others. Add those retail outlets’ sales into the mix and one could reasonably assume that Apple’s iPod share is actually quite a bit larger and the Zune’s share quite a bit lower than NPD’s figures. Due to limited reporting, the actual NPD market share numbers aren’t nearly as important as the trends they show; Apple’s iPod share as measured by NPD is up 36.4% year-over-year.

Microsoft’s Zune has 10.2% of the market that NPD measures, not 10.2% of the actual portable music player market (which nobody accurately measures).

And now you know the rest of the story.

Related articles:
NPD: Apple iPod gains market share over holidays, up 36% year-over-year – January 03, 2007

The Motley Fool: Apple makes Microsoft’s Zune a paperweight – January 10, 2007
Jim Cramer: ‘Apple has a winning formula’ (also smashes Microsoft Zune with bat) – January 06, 2007
RealMoney’s Comeau predicts: ‘Microsoft will kill the first Zune media player by midyear’ – December 16, 2006
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Microsoft Zune plummets to 5th place in U.S. digital media player market share with 2.1 percent – December 04, 2006
Analysts: Microsoft needs to ‘rethink’ as interest in Zune fades fast – December 01, 2006
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Cramer’s Mad Money: Microsoft’s Zune is pathetic; Vista may cause people to turn to Apple Mac – November 15, 2006
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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
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Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006


  1. We know that Apple reported iPod sales up 50% from the year ago quarter…I would like to see some numbers on the size of the market and its overall growth rate.

    FYI: Target has lots of Zunes for sale – along with PS3s. Wii and some iPods (shuffle, nanos) were sold out.

  2. Yikes!!!

    I must admit 10% is a lot higher than what I was hoping for. True NPD might not include some figures from some channels. But still, I don’t fee comfortable with the zune getting 10% market share of anything.

  3. NDP does what they can to add value to their services, but their data can only show a trend, and not solid figures.

    As MDN points out, they do not track some major players, one of which only sells iPods (Apple Retail Stores), which makes these numbers completely erroneous.

  4. 10 % of the whole MP3 player market for the last quarter would be about 3M units. Even assuming an equal split between the 3 months that would mean M$ sold 1M units in December.

    I kinda doubt that cos they would be crowing that they made their 1M goal 6 months early.

    If they meant 10% of the HD market that would probably mean 10% of 5-10M units for the quarter or 1.6-3.3M units for December.

    At best they probably sold 0.5M, which considering what the product is is not too shabby.

    Balmer blurted out 25 % market share for higher prices (>$200) which would be over a million units for sure.

    Time will tell if M$ have a winning product. I’ll never buy one but I’m sure some people will.

  5. So Apple sold a Million iPods for the quarter with revenues at $3.43 billion. That is $3400 per iPod. One of those numbers is wrong unless a tricked out MacBook Pro came free with every iPod.

  6. missing sales stats from….
    Apple Stores

    therefore, this has minimal value

    (maybe should just be stated as “sales stats based on Radioshack, Circuit City, Best Buy, and Tweeters)


  7. Zune is a bust, but you already knew that. The author of the article couched his data to make it appear that the Zune is doing much better than it really is (I smell MSFT marketing dollars at work).

    The author states,”That growth is in line with Microsoft’s expectations of exceeding 1 million units in sales by June 30.” 1,000,000 units by June 30 works out to 143,000 units per month, assuming that all months are equal. They aren’t. December is a make or break month for retailers, therefore we can safely assume that December sales were double the norm. That being the case, then MSFT sold 286,000 Zunes during December. The Zune was only available for the last half of the quarter. If we extrapolate the data and give Zune full quarter results (estimated) MSFT sold 410,000 units.

    Apple sold 21,100,000 iPods for the quarter. The iPod has a 72% share. Therefore the overall market totaled 29,300,000 players sold, of which 410,000 (if the Zune had been available for the full quarter) were Zunes. That represents a Zune marketshare of 1.4% overall. For a firm with the brand and marketing muscle of MSFT, these are deplorable results, which will only go down in the face of future iPod models with iPhone platform capabilities (think touchscreen).

  8. 10% probably accounts for how many Microsoft shipped to retailers, not how many were actually sold. There are probably Zunes sitting on shelves and in warehouses that are part of that 10%. iPod retailers probably sold most of the iPods that were shipped.

    > NPD does not report sales from Apple Retail Stores, the Apple Store online, Wal-Mart, or Amazon, among others.

    How can that 10% number be taken seriously if you don’t count those retailers? What iPod retailers did they count?

  9. Based on the NPD numbers for Oct and Nov, Munster of PiperJaffray estimated 16.5m iPod sales in the quarter. He was off by almost 4.6m, or over 25%, and I’m sure he tried to factor in the Apple Store retail and online sales.

    This little example points to the amount of error there is in just relying on the NPD numbers.

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