Microsoft attempts to move the goalposts, redefine Zune failure

“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.]


  1. “… Zune’s appeal will rest largely on the availability of innovative applications from third parties that make the hardware more compelling. But, as Microsoft has seen, getting developers to create Zune apps won’t be an easy task. The iPhone developer Microsoft courted to re-create his Twitter-reading application says there’s more money to be made writing for Apple’s platform.”

    “Microsoft will keep hammering away at the digital music market, but it’s not dealing from a position of strength.”

    Ballmer, this game has been over for a long time now. Apple won! Again! Can’t you see the next “Just one more thing” that is on the way!

  2. If the business is the service then the service either needs to be available for iPods/iPhones, on way more device than they’ve sold, or they need to be making a fortune of every customer. If they’d launched it for x-box, then added it for other devices and pc’s and so on then that would be believable, success or not, but they haven’t, they’re obviously just making excuses.

  3. this clearly shows the ‘competition is good’ crowd, that competition only counts when it also innovates – being a poor derivative counts for nothing. Almost every company who follows Apple doesn’t innovate, so their ‘competition’ title is extremely undeserved, and their champions lack insight.

  4. A few months ago I ran into a Microsoft User Experience Evangelist..I think that is what he said his title was. Any-whooo he said that the Zune brand was going to turn into an App on the Windows mobile OS. Now with the Zune HD coming out..looks like MS has no clue what to do with loser concept. Oh BTW, he used an iPhone and he let me test drive M$ Windows could only run on his Mac Book Pro…” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Just my $0.02

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