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. I know I’m on MacDailyNews, but I’m a PC user and a Zune owner. Bought the first Zune and upgraded to the second gen. I’ll probably buy a ZUNE HD when the 64GB version comes out. I also owned a Creative 8GB before my first Zune. My wife, brother, sister-in-law, mother and father all own a Zune (by choice).
    I expect a bias to the iPod on this website, but the short sighted nature of the personal opinions is a bit off putting. The comments seem a bit snippy and defensive. uclapril76 made a great point. No one seems to be blasting off on Sony’s new device or the Creative Zii Egg. Just seems weird that there are so many layers trying to pull up on the iPod and none of them are on your stake burning except the Zune. Maybe my Zune-ship makes me bias, but I don’t walk around talking about what’s wrong with iPod. If we want to talk “copy-catish” lack of innovation… which came first, the PC or the Mac (hint 1981 through 1984). And if it’s “failures” that a company had to live with for years…Apple Cyberdog circa 1996, replaced after 1 year by IE until Safari came out in 2003 (bit of a gap there too). Taligent 1988 to 1995. Apple EWorld; Apple Pippin; Apple’s first phone Motorola ROKR; Macintosh TV. Most of these became something else profitable later, but it took years… some cases decades.
    People in glass houses with little cute, frosted etchings of once bitten tree fruit should not throw stones that they are not willing to catch if they happens to get thrown back at them in a spirit of competitive fairness and not anger. Much love Mac-ers… seriously just wanted to talk about the other side. Neither company should be deified and if it makes you feel any better I dual boot EVERY machine including my wife’s with a Linux distro (mainly UBUNTU).
    Peace and Vive la Zune ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I should’ve bought a Zune 80 when one girl was offering it for me, she said it’s a nice mp3 player but using everything else around it sucks: software, store, drm, MS points etc. Damn, it would be so cool to own something that nobody else has.

    I also have a passport lanyard thingy that says Windows 2000. You don’t see many of those at airports, as a matter of fact I’ve never seen one, but I will use mine when the Win7 comes out (and carry a MacBook Air).

  3. go go hipsters and their flashy i*insert product type here*! go go zunepass and mp3 portability between computers and devices! go go actual video games on PC! go go useless apps for the teeny bopper and soccer mom alike for i*insert product type*!

  4. Once again critical thought based debate and factual examples are met with snobbish remarks and silly irrelevant statements.

    I could get on that level too: “Pod People are you really convinced that the product you love is actually superior or are you just afraid of not being part of your gang mentality enforced status symbol iClub?”

    I hate that I even wrote that so let me take a step back… Put it all perspective is there really not enough room in the market for both devices? And if the Zune brand as a device is so destined for failure as some claim, wouldn’t it be a more confident and mature operational mode to just let it pass quietly instead of giving it all this free publicity… had we as a society done the same with Paris Hilton we would not have to watch stupid videos of her giving her opinion or suffer the release of movies like House of Wax.

  5. Okay… I’m done…. apparently there are a few kids that can’t start the Fall semester due to their lack of up to date immunizations still stalking the internet. Or maybe they’re in computer lab.

    Come on Coot, let’s go troll Appletastesbetterthanpc, you can come too. And you can bring your iPhone 3G. No one at ZuneScene will judge you for it… lol Oops sorry, man, didn’t mean to out you as a late adopter. Hope you don’t get those “anyone not rockin’ a 3GS is a poser” comments.

    Big ups to uclapril76!!!! SHAKA, BRO!!!!

  6. MDN is right. Microsoft should bury the Zune name, even if they continue to make the hardware. Zune HD should be Xbox-M, and maybe the less well-informed will actually look at it without having to deal with the “Zune” connection.

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