NYTimes: Zune Only Selling to iPod Haters
"When the Microsoft Zune digital music player first appeared, it was the latest in a long line of gizmos to which the phrase 'iPod killer' was hopefully attached. And let's be clear about something: This column makes absolutely no suggestion that there is any credible evidence that this is happening. The most recent figures from NPD Group, the retail-data collector, showed Apple's device holding 70 percent of the MP3-player market, compared with 3 percent for the Zune. (This put Microsoft in third place, behind SanDisk, at 10 percent.)... But the most salient feature of the Zune seems to be that it’s not an iPod."
The New York Times Magazine's Consumed column always offers an interesting outside perspective on trends among consumer products. This week, Rob Walker sets his sites on Zune buyers, wondering why anyone would consider a Zune if Apple's iPod is seemingly fine for most people. Walker concludes that the only people who buy a Zune do so simply because it isn't an iPod. As Ars Technica points out, this just isn't the case; "Zune would still be selling if the iPod didn't exist. Consumers aren't simply buying the Zune because they don't like the iPod: there are features (like wireless sync) that the iPod doesn't have and that some consumers want. If the Zune didn't have unique features and Microsoft didn't keep trying to add them, it wouldn't succeed against the other, non-iPod competition."
One only needs to look to websites like the excellent AnythingButiPod to see the market for non-iPod players is still quite large. In order to have any success in this market, the Zune team will need to show not only why it is different from the iPod, but also how it will tap into the market that does not yet own an MP3 player. Things like the recent Hollywood/Zune whisperings should help expand its reach some.