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Opening Zune Sales Flaccid 451

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the meager-beginnings dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As 'Black Friday' approaches and consumers line up for the Playstation 3 it looks like Zune has become an afterthought. Despite months of hype, opening Zune sales are only so-so. While Zune did reach the top 10 on Amazon's Top 25 list for electronic product sales on its first day, it quickly fell below the top 15 and continues to drop. Six separate iPod models now outsell it as well as SanDisk's e250 player. In-store sales are not much better."
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Opening Zune Sales Flaccid

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:40PM (#16897068) Journal

    I think (just my opinion) with all of the up-front hype and the resulting "flaccid" initial sales figures, Microsoft may have offered up a pretty big loser. Why? Because so much about the Zune and (some of) its features depend on the social network aspect to achieve functionality, and that won't happen with this slow of a ramp.

    The flip side, also not good, is that with the slow uptake, the disappointing lack of ability to really use the wireless (because of a dearth of "others") will generate a viral, grassroots word of mouth ripple discourageing potential "others" to buy.

    Now slap on the silly DRM, the incompatiblity with almost everything else, the silly purchase plan (float MS a loan anyone?), this product is going nowhere fast. In some ways, too bad, it actually looked to have a certain coolness, but Microsoft forgot and left too heavy a signature...

    Maybe the good news out of all of this is the added prompting for makers like Apple to be more aggressive rolling out things like wireless, etc., though it looks to me like Apple has titrated their rollout almost perfectly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:41PM (#16897076)
    when you think you can enter into a saturated market just because you have huge mounds of cash. What's next, a chain of Microsoft restaurants? I have an idea, why doesn't Microsoft start selling shoes?

    Microsoft has gotten so large that it has no direction. They'll just piss money into the wind trying to crowbar into other markets as the fancy strikes them.
  • Coming in at #83 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Celt (125318) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:41PM (#16897086) Homepage Journal
    Its Zune, on Amazon's top 100 products
    Fantastic work their Microsoft, beaten by even iPod cases and cheap ass dvd players :)
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:43PM (#16897104) Journal
    Frankly, I'm amazed that the thing got into the Amazon top ten list at all. I wonder how many units you have to sell in a day to get on that list, and just how many of those units were Evil Empire minions buying one for the team?
    -jcr

  • Re:First pun! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maeka (518272) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:44PM (#16897110) Journal
    I don't believe this first generation Zune, adapted as it was from an existing player, is meant to be anything more than a placeholder, a foot in the door. The really interesting battle, IMHO, will be the second generation Zune against whatever iPod exists when it comes out.
    Low sales, if anything, give Microsoft a chance to work out Zune Marketplace bugs, while treating the paying public like beta testers, which is their style. Higher sales would just mean the possibility of more angry customers during this trial run.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:44PM (#16897114)
    Balmer's idea is find something to do a Lock-IN.

    Consumers DO NOT WANT TO BE LOCKED IN.

    All else is BS.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:48PM (#16897158) Homepage

    This is normal for Microsoft. The first release of a new product never does well. Windows 1 was terrible. Early versions of Excel weren't competitive with Lotus 1-2-3. The original Internet Explorer was lame. It took three years before ".NET" made any sense. Direct-X was terrible in its early versions. The original Xbox worked but was a huge money drain on Microsoft.

    Then Microsoft fixes the problem. Each new release gets better. In time, the competition is crushed.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:49PM (#16897168)
    People have already wizened up to MP3 players. The popular ones don't have proprietary file formats, have a USB mass storage connection and a FM radio. Zune fails on all counts.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:51PM (#16897180) Homepage Journal
    I spot a pattern with Microsoft releasing hardware. They do it late, they make big and clonky hardware, and they tie it to their operating system.
    Exhibit 1: PocketPC. It flopped twice before taking off, and by then, it was too late, because the PDA was already a sinking star and most people needing the functionality bought smartphones instead. There was no way that a HUGE and clumsy PocketPC device of ~year2000 was going to compete with the dapper Palm V/Vx, and it didn't. Too big, too mediocre, too late.
    Exhibit 2: Microsoft Phone. Anyone remember those? Wireless landline phones which hooked into your PC and gave you an on-screen warning about who was calling and a summary of all calls. Well, the thing was HUGE, could only be used with certain PCs, and flaws like someone rebooting a PC tossing people off-line. And by the time it came out, most phones already had all that functionality built in to the phone. The MS phone didn't have a display, the competition did. Too big, too mediocre, too late.
    Exhibit 3: Zune. Compare this to the iPod Nano or Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. It's too big, too mediocre, too late.

    There's other examples of failed MS hardware too, like tablet PCs (which were re-launched no less than THREE times before finally finding a niche). The only MS hardware I can think of that has achieved some success are the keyboards and joysticks (although I would think Logitech holds a much bigger market share).

    Regards,
    --
    *Art
  • by theurge14 (820596) * on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:56PM (#16897240)
    Sure, we all understand nobody likes the king of the hill, no matter if it is deserved or not.

    But I hope this helps put to rest the continued notion that iPods only sell so well only because they are a marketing gimmick or some status symbol only to be worn to look 'cool'.

    The iPod is, for years now, been a well designed and well executed product. The scroll wheel introduced with the first iPod minis soon appeared on the complete iPod line when everyone including Apple realized it is what seperates it from all the other mp3 player interfaces. Well, it did until Zune and many others tried to imitate it.

    The iTunes interface won over many converts from Winamp and Musicmatch Jukebox before they even owned an iPod. Simplicity and power won over again. The iTMS isn't the best selling store by accident.

    Sure, the iPod is hyped, but perhaps it is for a good reason. People aren't dropped hundreds of dollars because they're stupid. At least for not this long and for this many years and different iPod models. Has there been a single iPod model that flopped?
  • Re:First pun! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:57PM (#16897256) Journal

    That may be, and I don't know much about MP3 players, but I do know that first impressions count. If this is their strategy, then bad move Microsoft.
  • by theurge14 (820596) * on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:58PM (#16897262)
    Microsoft Money never crushed Quicken, and after all these years Internet Explorer is playing catchup to an open source browser. Perhaps things aren't exactly the same as they used to be.
  • by Andrew Kismet (955764) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @01:59PM (#16897264)
    -shakes head sadly- They said that when the original XBox was launched. Maybe you're right, mp3 players are a far more saturated market than consoles, and the death of the Dreamcast provided a wonderful stepping-stone with an epitaph engraved on it for them to launch from, but remember: Microsoft HAS and WILL CONTINUE to "crowbar into other markets as the fancy strikes them."
    They're just THAT huge.
  • by spirit_fingers (777604) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:02PM (#16897322)
    The really frustrating thing about the Zune is that it is essentially a terrific product. The problem is Microsoft's insistence at putting the interests of vendors first and the interests of their customers a distant second. If they'd only let the damn hardware do all it could do, the thing would be selling like hotcakes. The Zune's wi-fi capability COULD let you share whole playlists, and COULD let you be a DJ and stream to several Zunes simultaneously, and COULD let you share music without wrapping it in arbitrary DRM and COULD let you sync it with a PC without a cable. It could also let you use it as a hard drive and let you sync it with a Mac or a Linux box. But no. Instead, Microsoft's DRM tightassness won't let the Zune be all it could be and what we have now will go down in history as the Bob of music players.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:03PM (#16897332)
    But the handful of other posters are dead-on accurate as to why the Zune is going to fail.

    There is already word of mouth that the Zune is encumbered with myriad of limitations. The whole product launch follows a very traditional marketing strategy complete with a flash yet typical advertising campaign. In the days of yore, a company could manufacture hype for a product. Before the internet, word of mouth spready very, very slowly. Now, if you fuck it up -- you're done. Really done.

    Who was Microsoft marketing the Zune to exactly? One could only hope that they would have actually done some market research on their target demographic. Enough to know that these people aren't as gullible as they once thought. Clearly, this isn't the case.

    The product itself follows the mantra of design-by-deception. Forget all of the stuff about DRM and fair-use. Although that did play a part, the true problem with the Zune is that it was a product manufactured by people who really didn't want it to succeed. The modus operandi of corporations is to build a system to maintain the status quo. We're in a period of time where innovation threatens the life blood of the huge conglomorate. Sure, this threat has always existed -- but not to such a degree as it does today. The unwritten motivation for every decision is to make sure that everything is built to keep things from progressing beyond a company's capacity to adapt. Adaptation brings risk, and nobody in a position of executive privilege truly wants to accept responsibility for a failure, or responsibility for controlling risk. It's PMI training gone haywire.

    So, how does this manifest? The Zune is a perfect example. They see the threat coming, they don't want to assume any risk, they design a product to fail and thus hurt the industry where the so-called rising star is coming from, and maintain the status quo.

    It's truly brilliant, but this strategy is never laid on paper. It's never communicated. It's simply the ebb and flow of business, which is itself a manifestation of the human being's drive towards power and influence, which is completely derived from human desire for their memory to outlive their physical being due to doubts about the true meaning of life and death.

    In an ironic twist, many don't realize that by being a part of the problem, by sacrificing forward progress, they are in fact going against the very nature of man's ambitions. This is, of course, manic. It's probably why we built the bomb, build biological weapons, etc. It's the vain hope that someday somebody actually will make a mistake and wipe us all out, so that some creature down the road might learn from our mistakes and by doing so, we may have a final, romantic sense of redepmtion for our own.
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:03PM (#16897334) Journal

    Define popular. You need a point of comparison, i.e. how well it would be doing if it didn't lock people in. It might have ten times the sales figures without the crappy DRM.
  • by no reason to be here (218628) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:03PM (#16897336) Homepage
    At frist glance it might seem like a lock in, but look at it carefully. You can listen to an ITMS song on your computer, up to 4 other computers, burn it to a CD, or listen to it on your iPod. The biggest thing to remember is that once you've burned it to a CD, it's pretty much open season what you can do with it then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:04PM (#16897344)
    If it wasnt for slashdot, i wouldnt even know what a zune is.
  • Re:Palm, anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:04PM (#16897350)
    Where's Palm? Exactly where they were, technically, and still with a large chunk of the market. And Windows, meanwhile, has a much more modern product and is still trailing Palm (in the few studies honest enough to include the Treo, that is)... despite years of Palm neglecting to deliver a modern OS. It really tells you how eager people are to have a Microsoft-based device in their pocket, doesn't it?
  • Not true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:06PM (#16897370)
    That's simply not true. Apple has the worst lock in sceme in the entire consumer electronics industry, yet people line up outside their stores like they're in the former Soviet Union waiting for toilet paper. Slashdot geeks all hyped up on Jolt and Slashdot groupthink don't want lock in. Consumers at large couldn't care less.
  • by Technician (215283) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:13PM (#16897428)
    This is the most amazing example of an economic boom to bust I've ever seen.

    What you have seen is the effect of too many players in a speculative market. Almost nobody pays $3000 for a game console. The rumor of people buying them for $3000 got lots of people excited about easy money and a high mark-up. It's just like the pump and dump stocks. Nothing new here. A few consoles got bought then and sold for $1500 to another investor sucker who thought he could sell it for $3000. Not many paid $1500 to play the console.

    A word to the wise, keep out of the specultation market. Very few win at the game.
  • Yeah burn lossy, rip and re-encode.

    I'll buy from itunes when I can download lossless and burn to cd. Still when that day comes why bother with the DRM?

    I'll keep on ripping my cd's in flac and using my IAudio to play them thanks.

  • Re:First pun! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:24PM (#16897534) Journal
    Let's hope this product is zune to be forgotten!

    "Origami". ;-)

    -jcr

  • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:24PM (#16897542) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me or does MS seem to design everything by a giant committee, headed up by accountants and market-speak droids?

    The seem to be used to dealing with business customers who don't understand computers and don't want or need to -- they just know that MS is the 'best of breed' and MS will take care of their every need. They have no imagination and no ideas of their own about how a computer could solve their problems, or what they want out of it -- they just want to sit down at a training course and have MS tell them how a computer works and what to do with it. They are just there for the ride, eagerly consuming whatever lowest-common-denominator crap MS pumps out.

    Meanwhile, the younger kids coming up are computer savy, have a general idea of how computers work and what you can expect out of them, and most importantly what sucks and what doesn't. That's why the iPod has built such a strong brand -- not for its sleek styling, but for its user friendly interface. Instead of another button for another feature, it has *basically* one button (or two buttons, or one nested button) for *all* of its features. This is what the music listeners of today want -- an *easy* way to get to their music. This is worth repeating -- the iPod is simply the easiest path to their music. That's all.

    Meanwhile, the MS zune seems to be designed to please music labels and MS' own need for vendor lock-in, with its DRM, shoddy music store, and crappy sharing features. Go ahead, please everyone but the customer who you expect to pay for the privilege of using your crap. Though I must admit, it does work well in the business world.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:28PM (#16897588)
    This is not to say that Microsoft should stay out of consumer electronics. The Xbox 360 has a good chance of being the dominant console this generation (outside of Japan).

    Not if the reviews of the Wii are any indication...
  • by astrosmash (3561) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:30PM (#16897610) Journal
    If Microsoft wants to sell copyrighted music they have to do what the copyright holders want. That's where the crippled hardware and DRM comes from. And unlike Apple, Microsoft cannot negotiate from a position of strength; they will do what they're told, or they won't have a music store. Microsoft even went so far as to give Universal $1 from every Zune sold. Pathetic!

    I hate how virtually every tech company bends over backwards for the entertainment industry. No one company, except for Apple, has stood up to entertainment industry in any substantial way, and as a result they and their customers suffer.
  • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:48PM (#16897752)

    Listening to music can be social.

    Jobs on Zune's sharing feature:
    I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left! You're much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you're connected with about two feet of headphone cable.
    Jobs gets this stuff. Think this through. Compare the Bill Gates solution (have people navigate through menus and beam music to other people's players across the room) with what Jobs is proposing. With what Jobs proposes:
    1. You've creating physical intimacy through close physical proximity.
    2. You're listening to the same song at the same time. It's a shared experience. That isn't necessarily so with the Zune approach.
    3. You both have an ear free, so you can actually talk.
    Now, there are comments in response to this Jobs quote all over the Internet to the effect of "I don't see the point, you can do the same thing with the Zune." I suspect astroturfing, because the point is obvious: this Zune feature, the only thing is has going for it, is a complicated technological solution to a problem that people have solved in better ways without the technology.
  • Re:First pun! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hazee (728152) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:48PM (#16897754)
    "...I don't know much about MP3 players, but I do know that first impressions count."

    You're kidding, right?

    "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

    Ring any bells?
  • zune sales (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @02:54PM (#16897814)
    Well, I'd never buy anything with lines like "Welcome to the social" on it anyway. I still have really hard times accepting it as being valid unfunny English with a meaning.

  • Re:Not true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by entrylevel (559061) <jaundoh@yahoo.com> on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:04PM (#16897904)
    Wrong [sourceforge.net], wrong (1 [mactel-linux.org]|2 [apple.com]), and wrong [osx86project.org].
  • Re:Not true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:26PM (#16898074)
    Oh, big deal. Anybody can hack anything. Any of this stuff is likely not to work very well, and it's certainly not supported by Apple. Lock-in is lock-in, no matter how many kludgy workarounds people build. People wouldn't have to build these things in the first place if not for the lock-in.
  • by countach (534280) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:33PM (#16898126)
    To be outsold by iPod is to be expected. To be outsold by Sandisk is a spanking.
  • by gaspar ilom (859751) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:37PM (#16898154)
    So, tell me if I'm getting this right, A C...

    The Zune was set-up to fail -- in order to sabotage future market demand for a similarly-featured product?

    **AND** this strategy is part of the Circle of Life and the eternal struggle of Man?
  • Re:First pun! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:44PM (#16898220) Homepage
    That has jack-all to do with the fact that they're a monopoly (in office and OS software, not MP3 players, by the way) and everything to do with the fact that they have a lot of money.

    Their being a monopoly elsewhere has very little direct impact on this product, just like it has very little direct impact on the Xbox 360 or on MS' hardware business. (Are they still doing that?) All their monopoly (and busines in general) does is FUND these ventures. Any other large company could do the same thing- Sony, for example.

  • Re:First pun! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:03PM (#16898360) Journal

    Why thank you. ;)

    To answer the post though, I was talking about the market's first impressions as opposed to mine or Taco's. Quite frankly if the market shared my first impressions, they would achieve the first ever recorded negative sales figures in history. However, the iPod actually did quite well to begin with. There was an initial lag period when it first came out during which it sold moderately well, but then after about eight months it began to rise hugely. Now this could sound reassuring to the Zune lovers (are there any outside Redmond?), but with the iPod, Apple were breaking fairly new ground. MP3 players weren't as prevalent as they are today and nothing quite like the then new iPod was. So that lag time is the technology gathering acceptance, filtering into public awareness, etc. That work is done now and . The Zune is treading old ground and ought to start off with an advantage because of that. But from this story it isn't exactly taking a big chunk of those who are buying their first MP3 player. Furthermore it's trying to break into a very established market whereas the iPod had territory which, if it was fooling around with boys, still had its virginity intact for a little longer. But Jobs has popped that particular cherry and is now in a pretty steady relationship. If the Zune were to steal the girl as it were, it would need to have done better than this.

    It has the backing of Microsoft. It probably wont die. But it's not going to be anything amazing and the one good feature it has is crippled with DRM. Others will replicate it soon enough and hopefully in a better way. As phones, PDAs, MP3 players et al., become more and more integrated, there's not going to be a future for an MP3 player that boasts "Hey, I can do wireless."

    IMHO, of course. ;)
  • by The Great Pretender (975978) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:14PM (#16898480)
    Actually the wife and I have the Sandisk e270 and an 4gig iPOD nano. We both argue over the Sandisk, the nano is the consolation prize.
  • by RahoulB (178873) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:15PM (#16898486) Homepage
    There was another Jobs quote a few years ago about other players copying the white earbuds ... he said something along the lines of "when the girl sees that it's not an iPod she will think you're a fake".

    I love the way he understands that making a gadget that sells is nothing to do with tech but instead all about pulling the ladies.

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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