Zune Site Claims Zune Beats iPod Seven Ways.

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Do the new 2G Zunes have what it takes to compete with the latest iPods?

Well, in an article titled “7 Ways Zune Beats iPod?” Team Zune Luv certainly thinks so. In fact, the “team” claims the Zune is

“…better for the consumer in a number of way [sic] that, at this point, the iPod simply can’t touch”

I disagree, so let’s take a look at their list and see what we can make of it:

“Podcast as top-level entry. It always bugged me that Podcasts were a “category” in music (or video) in the iPod. That was just so wrong on so many levels that it is great to see that cleaned up.”

Um, Podcast has had the ability to be top-level on the iPod for a while. The iPod’s top-level menu is customizable. Since Team Zune Luv didn’t know this, how wrong is the rest of this list gonna be? Let’s see…

“Wireless sync. I love people with $300+ media center docking stations for their iPod who still have to disconnect and move their iPod every time they want new content on their player. Us Zune types don’t now. It is 2007 and it’s time to let wireless do what it was meant to do.”

If your device is plugged into an approved dock you can wirelessly sync it. That’s swell, but I wouldn’t normally expect to see “plugged into” and “wirelessly” so close together in the same sentence for the same device, would you?

As for letting wireless “do what it was meant to do”, that would be the ability to browse the web and maybe even purchase music on WiFi. Oops, Zune doesn’t do that.

“Wireless sharing. There is a point to this that is obviously moot unless there is another Zune owner in the room but Microsoft’s focus will keep that from becoming a problem soon.”

Shared Zune files are still DRM-infested and explode on your device after three days. And there are still numerous restrictions on what files can and cannot be shared. This feature was, and still is, a complete bust.

“Subscription music. This has always been a killer app for portable media players but implementation has always been sub-par. That changes with the new Zune.”

Oh brother! Subscription music has failed everywhere it’s been tried. It’s a model clung to by the labels in the futile hope they can sucker enough people into paying them money every month to support the outrageous profits they used to rake in from physical CD sales.

People don’t want to rent their music. At least not enough to sustain any valid business model. Why would anyone be eager to have the music labels avoid letting them own their music?

“Xbox integration. Xbox’s market share is impressive. Being able to both plug your Zune into an Xbox and being able to stream subscription music and Podcasts to your Xbox not only makes the Apple TV concept a little silly but give you a great excuse to own a Gears of War machine.”

Yes, buying a Zune is really just an excuse for someone to get a gaming platform they wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Er… What?

The ability to integrate into a gaming platform (any gaming platform) is pointless to 99% of the music players’ intended market. It’s just another silly “feature” MS added to plug the Xbox and appear “different”.

Counting all brands and models of MP3 players the world over, are there 150 million or so in use right now? How many of their owners even thought about a gaming platform tie-in? I won’t say it’s “zero” (after all, Team Zune Luv is crazy about the idea), but I will say it’s small enough to make zero difference. Oh well, not understanding the customer is a Microsoft hallmark.

“Free upgrade. When has Apple ever added something new to the iPod and helped a previous owner upgrade at no charge? I pray this is the future of the portable media player.”

This one’s been force-fed down our throats by every MS shill and shill wanna-be since the day it was announced.

You guys are only fooling yourself. Microsoft had so many of the Boat Anchor 30 Zunes hanging around in the channel and storage warehouses they couldn’t just toss them all. They’re already losing money on the things, so they needed a way to salvage something from these worthless models. Since the software upgrade to Zune 2 wasn’t that radical anyway, they made it available for the BA30 solely to try to clear that inventory.

Oh, and if the Zune 2 software is so great why does MS have to practically give the BA30 away?

“Radio. I seldom listen to radio but found myself in the gym watching a news clip on the monitor that caught me eye. They do that broadcast the audio on FM thing so I switched over quickly, got my fix and went from there. 3 minutes of usage total – but it was nice to have.”

Three minutes of usage and it made the team’s “big 7” list? Are you kidding me? This has been touted as an alleged missing feature of the iPod since Day 1. And guess what? Nobody cares. It’s never been an issue, probably because OTA radio is all but dead.

I can see why Team Zune Luv put a question mark at the end of the article title. Posing these as a question allows them (him?) to weasel out from under them when they realize the answer to the question is “no”. On the other hand, how much weaseling does one expect from an astroturfing site?

So Many Tech Headlines, So Little Time.

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Here’s some reading for the weekend with a few of my comments.

Bill Gates: Music genius.

The New York Times seems to think Bill knows what he’s doing re: Online Music. My favorite is this quote from Bill at the conclusion:

““People are going to listen to a lot more music because it’s going to be easy to find neat new exciting music, its going to be easy to have your music with you, in the car, when you’re running,” he said. “It seems like there ought to be a way to translate that into an opportunity.””

Easy to find? You mean like via a one-stop shopping online store with music, movies, TV shows, free podcasts, and more? Listen to it when you’re in the car or running? You mean like if you could easily burn a CD for the car, or have a player that clipped to your running outfit? Hmm, yes, Bill, you’re so visionary only you can see that that could be translated into an opportunity.

Retire, Bill. Now. Seriously, you’ve been looking awfully foolish lately.

A new Zune requires new management.

Now that the Zune 2 is here, Microsoft can get down to what they do best: Bureaucracy. They hired another exec to toss at the problem. Remember, you can never have too many managers. Heh.

The secret behind why WGA was removed from IE7.

I’m glad we have Mary Jo Foley to question this, otherwise all us gullible morons would just assume MS told the truth when the IE 7 team says it’s because of this:

““Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users””

But Mary actually wonders if maybe there is another motive. Firefox is digging into IE, and perhaps Safari could gain ground as it improves in beta. So to Hell with WGA, we just want as many people to download IE and use it. We’re all about numbers; always have been, always will be.

What’s most amazing about this, and the little secret nobody will talk about, is that it’s absolute proof — if any were needed — that WGA has never been a GA to anybody but Microsoft.

Time Warner to Universal: Oh yeah? Well, we can stick our heads up our asses even further than you!

Can you believe another label is setting up yet another online store? No, I don’t mean one that’s been successful like iTunes. And no, I don’t mean one that’s DRM-free like eMusic. And no, I don’t mean one that’s a major new force (and going to be successful) like Amazon. Instead, I mean one that has everything that makes a music store fail:

  • DRM? check
  • Microsoft WMA files? check
  • Won’t work with iPods? check
  • Only half the songs of iTunes? check
  • Build a new PC client player from scratch? check
  • PC only? check
  • Subscription service? check

Holy shit! This is absolutely unbelievable to me. How freakin’ stupid do you have to be? Where has TW been that last few years? This boggles the mind. Universal, I take back everything I said about you (I’ll just say it again later anyway), TW has got to be even dumber than you are. Amazing.

Thurrott again.

Didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this one since Thurrott is piggybacking on an article that itself is overreaching in its attempts to be “fair” about eight reasons why Windows users don’t switch to Macs. Still, Paul takes the nauseating and makes it worse.

For example, price is listed as one reason, and Thurrott drools all over it:

“Well. Actually, the truth remains: Macs are more expensive than PCs, they still are. Yes, Macs are often comparably priced to similar PCs. The problem is that PCs come in many, many more price points, and unlike with Apple, PC users are used to choosing exactly what they want and getting it. “

And yet, when it comes to MP3 players Paul says that you can only look at comparable devices. So what have we learned? As a shill, when it suits Microsoft you compare everything, when it doesn’t suit Microsoft you narrow the parameters at least until you can claim the #2 spot.

Number 5 (lies) and 6 (Windows bashing) and 8 (Mac users) in the list bother me even from the original author but Thurrott, as usual, piles on:

“This is, quite possibly, the biggest problem facing the Mac community. You may not realize how serious this is. But consider this:

Mac fanatics are like Detroit car lobbyists. They’ve spent decades doing nothing but propping up the Mothership, all for what they think is a good cause, but all they’ve really done is harmed the thing they love so much. People understand quality, and that’s why so many are swayed by Apple’s products. People also understand bullying, and that’s why so many ignore Apple’s products.”

Paul, Microsoft INVENTED bullying. Regarding lies, isn’t your leader Bill Gates quoted as saying Vista was the first OS with parental controls, and that every day the Mac OS is hacked? Every day! Didn’t Balmer claim the iPhone was the most expensive phone ever? Doesn’t Microsoft claim shipped units as sold? Didn’t the IE7 team just claim they removed WGA to “protect the entire Windows ecosystem” (see above, and do try to keep up)?

The fact that marketing people “lie” is a given everywhere. That somehow Apple has done more of this, or been more egregious about it, is such horse shit I wonder if you have to wash yourself after you type this garbage.

Microsoft’s sins are not just on paper. They’ve been dragged into more LEGITIMATE court cases (not the BS type that they and Apple have to suffer through) and have SETTLED more times than anyone cares to count. Did you read ANYTHING out of the Iowa antitrust case? And wasn’t Microsoft just busted big time by the EU?

As for bashing, go to the comp.sys.mac.advocacy usenet news group to see what your precious sainted MS community has to say and how they act, Paul. Heck, just go to Digg. As Microsoft is fond of pointing out, they outnumber the Apple supporters by 9 to 1. They make Apple “zealots” look like kids at Sunday school, and have for 20 years!

Oh, and don’t forget this FACT: The vast majority of Apple supporters have experience with Windows (as Microsoft is also fond of pointing out, most people have to use it at work). Meanwhile, what the vast majority of Microsoft zealots know about Apple and Mac OS X would fit under a gnat’s armpit.

Any blogger attempting to be “fair” and somehow equating Apple’s sins with Microsoft’s, or Apple’s supporters with Microsoft’s, is either trying way too hard to get in the “big boys'” sandbox, or has a disgustingly short memory, or is too young to be writing about it with any authority. Paul saves his “best” for last:

“while Apple’s fanatics might have been desirable or even necessary during the rebuilding years, now they’re just dead weight. Good riddance, I say.”

Screw you, Paul. I love the way you bash people in a post that includes a lecture on bashing people. Jerk. Your livelihood is crumbling around you. The only dead weight is on the back of your old ideas about technology and the supporting business models. It’s to those ideas you should be bidding “good riddance”.

Radiohead’s stance must be honored; Jobs is an ass who doesn’t care.

I like the Rough Type site, but in this piece I think Carr is way off the mark.

Basically he says that since Radiohead won’t allow singles to be sold (only albums) they can’t be on iTunes. This is true, and it’s a choice made by them and Jobs. Jobs wants singles (rightfully so, album buyers like me are a dying breed; people want singles).

I haven’t seen Radiohead badmouth Apple or iTunes about this, and I haven’t seen Jobs or Apple badmouth Radiohead, so what’s the big deal? Agree to disagree, and all that. They both have stances and stick to them. Seems OK to me.At first Carr even seems to agree with this:

“You can applaud Radiohead’s lonely stance, or you can, as Crunchgear recently did, dismiss the band as “a bunch of crybabies.” … And you have to admit that Radiohead’s motivation in protecting what it sees as the integrity of its works is no different from Jobs’s motivation in protecting what he sees as the integrity of his products.”

Exactly. A sound statement and, as I said, agree to disagree. Crunchgear is wrong. But then Carr says this:

“Jobs’s lack of concern for the desire of Radiohead, and other artists, to control how people experience their creations undermines his attack on the people who would alter the iPhone to serve their own purposes.”

WTF? How the heck did we get from Radiohead and Jobs both protecting the integrity of their works/products to Jobs suddenly having no concern for Radiohead and other artists? And, oh yeah, Carr throws in the iPhone from left field ’cause it’s all the rage these days.

That’s nuts and, frankly, the one paragraph simply does not logically lead to the other.

I like Radiohead and have no issue with them not wanting to sell singles. I don’t agree with it because I believe it’s outdated thinking. And the fact is no artist can ever tell me how to enjoy their art. Ever. But I appreciate both sides stuck to what they believe, and really don’t see how either can be “wrong”. But Carr apparently believes one must be “wrong”, and that it’s Jobs. Nonsense.

As for throwing in the iPhone, well, why not? Apparently every blogger was contractually obligated to post a scathing “we want third-party apps” and/or “Apple is evil and mean to developers” piece on the iPhone this week.

Well, except me, I’m non-union. 🙂

Some Thoughts On The Zune 2 Preview.

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Paul Turrott has been laying low lately. He says it’s because he’s been working hard on his Microsoft Propaganda SuperSite blog, but I tend to think he was also ramping up for some serious Zune humping. He did not disappoint.

He posted a Zune 2 Preview on his SuperSite for Windows, or maybe it’s Windows IT Pro, or WinInfo Daily News, or one of his other clearly non-biased (ahem) Microsoft sites. Let’s take a look.

In referring to the first Zune, he says:

“As I noted in my Zune review, however, the device isn’t a total dud. It featured a bigger screen than the iPod of the day, had a more grippable and attractive exterior, complete with a cool “double shot” dual color effect.”

The Zune was butt-ugly and everyone knows it, especially in brown. It was huge and boxy, and no amount of “gripability” (hey, I like that word!) is going to fix that. Why try to suggest otherwise?

“Depending on how you look at it, the Zune’s first year was either an epic disaster or a decent first step into the market. “

No, depending on whether you’re a Microsoft zealot (or Apple-basher) it was either a first year disaster or a decent first step.

“Compared to the iPod, the Zune didn’t exactly fare very well; Microsoft sold about one million Zune devices in its first 8 months of availability.”

It’s 1.2 million in nearly a year, Paul. I’m still trying to understand why you can count Apple’s numbers to several decimal places but can’t seem to grasp Microsoft’s weak sales.

“Of course, Microsoft prefers to compare Zune sales to the single iPod model that it technically competes most closely with, which was a 30 GB iPod for much of that first year.”

I suppose Paul lets Microsoft make this comparison because they say they can. But don’t ask him to compare Apple’s Macintosh only to machines that it technically competes most closely with, I guess that wouldn’t be fair.

“And according to the marketing mavens at NPD, Zune was consistently the number two selling MP3 player in the market for hard drive-based devices that cost $250 and less.”

Microsoft is slipping; if they add the color brown as a requirement they were #1.

“Just by entering the market, Microsoft was able to jump ahead of products from Creative, Samsung, iRiver, and others, and do so with its very first device.”

Paul conveniently neglects to mention that those other players were using PlaysForSure, which Microsoft abandoned when the Zune was released. Gee, do you think having the technology abandoned by its maker had something to do with people maybe not being too sure about going that route? Even if Paul couldn’t figure it out, Microsoft certainly could. They crippled their so-called partners with one stroke.

“…Microsoft is getting ready to launch its second generation Zunes. There are new devices, new capabilities (all of which, yes, will be ported back to the original device), new PC software, a completely redesigned Zune Marketplace, a completely new Zune community service, and even new accessories (that, yes, will also work with older Zunes).”

Translation: Microsoft threw out the junk they slapped together for the Apple-bashers to buy, and are now going to offer something they hope looks like maybe a small amount of effort was involved.

“In what I consider to be a classy move, Microsoft is imbuing each Zune device with exactly the same features. (And yes, this includes the original Zune 30, which will require a software update.) Think about that for a second: When it comes to purchasing a Zune, you will only have to factor in size and pricing, unlike Apple’s complicated iPod line…”

You owe me a new keyboard Paul. I spewed coffee over it reading that paragraph. Wow. Microsoft took the cheap way out and wouldn’t even slap a 30 GB drive in the new 80 housing. That’s not a feature, that’s designing on a shoestring. Further, look at the picture at the top of this article and tell me which one is the 30GB. Yes, the small HDD model is actually the huge one in the back. How stupid is that? This has nothing to do with being “classy”, MS took this route no doubt because they have plenty of 30GB inventory left to sell.

If it makes you feel better, a fellow Microsoft fan, Mary Jo Foley, thinks that upgrading the old crappy model also shows just how swell Microsoft is compared to Apple. She goes so far as to state this could be all about Microsoft’s great customer service. Tell me, does Microsoft require their shills to proofread their own stuff? I’d get nausea if I had to see that kind of writing with my name on it.

As for the iPod line being complicated, how delusional do you have to be to say that Apple’s iPod line is somehow complex, but Zune’s is somehow simple and easy? If you really believe this way, why not give Apple’s Macs kudos for only having a few models over the hundreds of PC models available?

“Each device will include a brand new user interface that Reindorp says is “more 2D” than what’s out in the market at the moment.”

Translation: Much like the old hardware, the old software was junk so we trashed it.

“The two new device form factors (Zune 4/8 and 80) were designed from the ground up by the Zune team’s industrial design group.”

They spent a lot of time hunched over photos of the iPod nano. Too bad Apple’s already moved beyond that. Microsoft didn’t get it right anyway; started from the ground up and are still over 20% thicker than the nano. Worse battery life, too.

“All Zunes will now support wireless synchronization as well.”

All you have to do is plug it into something wired and it will synch wirelessly. No, no, no, don’t think about that, let’s move on quickly…

“The Zune software, which I believe is simply called Zune, has been completely rewritten from scratch,”

Did we mention that our 1G Zune was a piece of crap in every way, shape, or form? Just like the hardware and its software, we had to trash the PC client as well. Still, you gotta admit we managed to get over a million Microsoft zealots and anti-Apple zombies to foot the bill while we tried to design something that at least looks like it’s only bad instead of intolerable.

“If you have a red Zune 8, for example, the software will display an icon that is visually identifiable as that exact device.”

Just like an iPod in iTunes, but of course when Microsoft does it it’s innovation.

“As with the PC-based software, the Zune Marketplace–Microsoft’s online content service–has also been redesigned and is no longer using the awful URGE front end from the first time around.”

Sorry, 1G Zune users, everything you defended the last year was pure unadulterated crap. We knew it when we foisted it on you and are changing it all now. But don’t feel bad, you’ll get the new software and syncing for your Boat Anchor 30. Heck, until we clear out the inventory we’re even putting the BA 30 into a new Zune box at $199, so you’ll have some company soon.

“The company is going to launch with one million DRM-free MP3 tracks. But these aren’t just MP3 songs, they’re “pure MP3s,” devoid of any watermarking or tracking technology. Reindorp tells me that the company “absolutely refused” to go in that direction, or settle on non-standard audio technology. So the Zune’s DRM-free tracks will be pure MP3. Halleluiah.”

Microsoft has provided no details about these tracks. No watermarking means they won’t know where they were sold. The labels want to know this — Apple and Amazon both use this at the labels behest. Maybe Microsoft’s MP3s are indie tracks that may not care about market stats, or maybe Universal figures that since MS is bribing them with a buck a unit they won’t mess with a watermark.

In any case the watermark is harmless, and for MS to say they “absolutely refused” to go in that direction is utter bullshit! They paid Universal’s extortion fee, their DRM is the worst in the industry, Vista is clogged with DRM from front to back, and they still cling to a subscription model. They will go in whatever DRM direction the labels tell them, Paul, and you know it. Why don’t you ever call them on this stuff? Oh, that’s right, because you’re a shill.

And stop calling the AAC standard (which is MP4) a non-standard. I realize as a Microsoft fan you have little use for, or exposure to, standards, but your disingenuous BS about AAC is getting old. It’s every bit the standard MP3 is, and improves upon it. Maybe as a worshiper in the church of Redmond newfangled technologies scare you? Does it concern you how foolish you look doing a “Halleluiah” for DRM-free MP3s that most of us have been using since 1998? Microsoft, like Apple, should be bringing something better to market, but as usual they choose to hold technology back.

“In addition to the Zune software and Zune Marketplace, Microsoft is also launching a new community Web site called the Zune Social”

I puked when I read about this, so my readers will have to get details on it themselves.

“In another dig at Apple and its consumer-unfriendly policies, Microsoft is doing something a bit different with accessories. That is, it’s not automatically obsoleting old devices or accessories just because something new is out now.”

Another big fat lie. The iPod has used the same 30-pin dock connector since April, 2003. Some devices didn’t work initially with the iPhone but Apple fixed it in firmware. Further, the universal dock just needs an adaptor (included) with new models. Yes, the A/V cable has changed with this new release, but that’s primarily because the new iPods output both composite and component video. That’s an improvement. Do the Zunes output video at all?

“Microsoft plans to launch the new Zune devices, Zune software, Zune Social and Zune Cards, and the new Zune Marketplace in mid-November.”

As usual, no date is specified. Maybe they’ll be on time, maybe they won’t. This is, after all, Microsoft.

In sum, Paul is back in a big way. I knew it was too good to last. Meanwhile, I have a new slogan for the Zune team — Microsoft: Building yesterday’s iPod tomorrow. What do you think?

New Zunes And A Certain Rodent We All Know.

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So the new Zunes are here. Stories are just rolling in since the embargo only recently lifted for the major outlets a little while ago (though smaller outlets trickled the word out, such as the Gizmodo picture above).

My initial comment: The new squared-off circle “Zune Pad” and the buttons at its upper left and right are going to make comparisons with Mickey Mouse inevitable.

Photo below is from Daily Tech. The hard-drive model still has the buttons on the side. It’s only the flash-based model that looks like Mickey:

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They dropped the brown color, and the black one doesn’t look all that bad. I like the red, not sure about the pink, and they sure picked an ugly green.

These were clearly targeted at the old generation iPod classic and nano lines, and they boast larger screens than that older generation (physically, not sure about resolution). Apple moved the goal posts ahead last month, though. The interface has been redone, and the squircle “Zune Pad” apparently has some touch controls (well, they had to get the word “touch” on the device somehow, didn’t they?).

Looks like they added h.264 and MPEG-4 video support. Wise move.

Went to the Zune site’s web page, but except for marketing spiel (with appropriate footnotes) there’s no data. When are they gonna publish specs for the thing?

From the Daily Tech article we see prices are identical to Apple’s iPod classic 80GB, nano 4GB and 8GB offerings. The HDD unit is slimmer than their first generation at .5”, but still nearly 20% thicker than the iPod! In fact, the 160GB iPod is only a hair thicker than the Zune 80. As for the flash units, they were designed with a shape like the old generation nanos, but are still 25% thicker than Apple’s.

The Zunes still “squirt” music, but it seems that now the limitation is just three plays (i.e., not also three days). This means there is still DRM on squirted music, and the footnote that not all music can be squirted is also still there. In other words, squirting is still kind of silly. They get some use out of WiFi by allowing OTA syncing, but Apple’s WiFi music store is a much better use of WiFi in my opinion. I mean, a whole lot better use. I mean, literally miles ahead.

Microsoft says the Zune marketplace is adding maybe a million DRM-free tracks. Again, no details. What is it with Microsoft and having no freakin’ details?! This is their big launch for the holidays and they won’t tell us anything. Isn’t it bad enough they did it in the middle of the night? Gee, Microsoft, ashamed much?

The Zunes will auto-sync video with Media Center PCs, which require Vista Home Premium or Ultimate and a TV tuner card. Not sure of the details (surprise!) on this syncing yet. Podcast support is now available. Further, the interface is said to have been rewritten.

They ship in November but — you guessed it — no date provided yet.

In short, these do look like nice improvements to the original, and a firmware update will add the OTA syncing and newer interface to older Zunes, which is nice for them (what a shock, no word on when that update wil be available). Still, they seem a bit behind the times after the latest iPods, yet they won’t even ship for another 4-8 weeks!

The 30GB model will still be available at $199, which seems ridiculous since it’s bigger and uglier. If they still wanted a 30GB model why the heck didn’t they put it in the newer case? Microsoft just doesn’t make any sense sometimes… Oh, wait, I know. They have a boatload of leftover inventory and they need to clear it all. That makes sense. Unlike Apple, they can’t count on older stock being cleared before rolling out the new stuff. It’s not that popular.

Zune Sales, Paul Thurrott, and THUD

So Paul Thurrott retracts his previous post about Microsoft selling one million Zunes. But he does so in a manner that makes it appear to be no big deal.

Paul specifically said in his original post that it was “not too shabby”. Further, it was a big enough deal for him to post it in the first place (and on a holiday, no less). Now that he has to retract it, well, hey, it’s only a month away (if it happens), so it’s apparently still some sort of accomplishment. Um, no.

Of course, Paul doesn’t end there, he needs to try to say something that still makes Microsoft’s Zune sales actually look good, if not impressive:

“BTW: Apple only sold about 500,000 iPods in its first six months. Granted, it’s a different era now. But there’s this notion that the iPod has always sold well, and that wasn’t the case at all in its first year or so on the market.”

First, I believe it was half a million in more like 12 months. Second, even so this is some classic Paul Thurrott THUD!

It’s awfully big of him to mention “it’s a different era now”. What an understatement! When the iPod hit the scene in October of 2001, the market for MP3 players barely existed. But Apple had designed a player true to what portable digital portable music players could be, rather than simply designing a player that looked like a portable CD player. Apple built the MP3 player market almost single-handedly. By the time Microsoft joined the party, it was mature and Apple alone was selling eight million iPods a quarter.

Further, Paul conveniently neglects to mention that the iPod was originally Mac only. It remained this way for about nine months! That’s a considerably smaller target audience, isn’t it? And, of course, the initial price was $399. Most analysts felt it would fail on price alone.

To sum this up for Paul, since he doesn’t get it: Apple selling half a million of the original iPod in twelve months, in a new market, at that price, to mostly Mac users, is far, far more impressive than Microsoft possibly selling one million Zunes in 7.5 months, in a mature market, at a price that’s still current, to Windows users.

In fact, after putting it that way it’s clear that Zune sales are even less impressive than my first post on the subject gave them credit for (which wasn’t much).

Microsoft almost sells 1M Zunes. Big whoop.

Microsoft’s Zune player was released on 11/14 last year, and a dud pretty much right out of the box. Sales dropped so quickly after the first week that three weeks later Microsoft had to put on a brave face and say that sales were meeting expectations (really? they expected it to sell so badly?) and would reach one million by the end of June, 2007:

“”We’re forecasting just over 1 million units for the fiscal year [ending June, 2007],” said Jason Reindorp, marketing director for Zune at Microsoft. “We feel pretty good about that number.””

I can see why they’d feel “pretty good” about that number. At a time when Apple was selling 8 million iPods per quarter, Microsoft set a goal of selling only 1 million Zunes in 7.5 months. Not very aggressive, was it? But then, they’re a software company, not a hardware one. I mean, if they applied the same weak expectations to their software, it’d take something like five years for them to get a new operating system released, and we all know that would never happen.

Anyway, guess what? The San Francisco Chronicle has an interview with Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division. In it, he is quoted as saying they have sold over 1 million:

“We’re still about nine months into having Zune in the marketplace. We’re very pleased with the progress. We’ve sold a little over a million Zunes. In the category we’re in, the hard-disk-based category, we’ve got about 10 percent market share. It’s a good start. It’s not an overwhelming start. I’m not going to pretend it’s some gigantic move.”

As unimpressive as this is, it turns out that it’s even less impressive than it first appears. According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 2.0, the Chronicle mis-quoted Bach. He didn’t say they had already sold one million, but rather that that they will have by the end of June:

“Second, Bach didn’t actually say that Microsoft had already sold a million Zunes. If you listen to the interview, which the Chronicle helpfully provides in a podcast, what Bach said wasBach: When we finish our fiscal year in June we’ll have sold a little over a million Zunes, so we feel very good about that. [emphasis added]”

In other words, Microsoft is tracking towards the goal (big deal), but they aren’t there yet.

What’s funny is that Bach clearly realizes all this is nothing to be proud of. Heck, he almost sounds like he’s apologizing for it. The Zune has not done well in the market place so far, and he knows it. Will it do better in the future? We’ll have to see what version 2.0 brings.