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May 29, 2007

3 days left to enter Zunerama's Pink Zune drawing

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

We've received over 100 letters to the Zune team from Zunerama members, in our Pink Zune Giveaway.

To enter, just post a short note to the Zune team.

This Friday, we'll draw one of you at random, to receive a brand new, limited edition Pink Zune!! (Thanks to Cesar of ZuneInsider for the generosity to our Zunerama members!!)

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May 28, 2007

Microsoft meets goal of 1 million Zunes sold

by Harvey Chute

Last December, Microsoft released its Zune sales projections, setting the bar at 1 million players sold by June 30, 2007.

Many scoffed at that prediction. But now, a little more than six months after its November 14 launch, Zune has evidently met its sales goal a little earlier than predicted.

"We've sold a little over a million Zunes," according to Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division. Bach was quoted in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

"In the category we're in, the hard-disk-based category, we've got about 10 percent market share," Bach continues. "It's a good start. It's not an overwhelming start. I'm not going to pretend it's some gigantic move. As we look to the future, you're certainly going to see us continue to invest in that category. We don't enter things like that lightly."

This is a timely follow-up to our Zune turning the corner? post of last Thursday, where we anticipated Zune's sales figures as a sign of how much traction the Zune player is getting.

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Find Zune accessories on Amazon

May 25, 2007

Photo review: Griffin DirectDeck for Zune

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

Want a good Zune accessory for under twenty bucks? We've been pleased with our Griffin DirectDeck cassette adapter.

Check out our photo review for more pics and details about our experience with this low-cost, good quality Zune accessory.

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See Zune accessories on Amazon:
Zune Travel Pack   |   Zune Car Pack   |   Zune Home A/V Pack   |   Zune Tough Skin

May 24, 2007

Paul McCartney: available today in Zune Marketplace; AWOL on iTunes

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

Paul McCartney's solo material is available now in Zune Marketplace: hundreds of songs on 20 albums, including Band on the Run, McCartney II, Wingspan, and Unplugged (the first MTV Unplugged album ever, by the way).

But as of today, he's not on iTunes, except for a handful of songs on one album (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard).

What gives? Apple made a big deal earlier this month about adding McCartney's catalog to its iTunes music store.

Apple isn't saying what's up. But as of Thursday afternoon, McCartney remains bizarrely AWOL on iTunes.

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See Zune Players on Amazon: Black, White, Brown

May 24, 2007

Zune turning the corner?

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

It's been a bumpy ride since Microsoft released Zune. On one hand, the player has built a cultish following of owners who can be loud and passionate. On the other, Zune has taken relentless bashing from many iPod supporters, and no shortage of negative reviews from tech blogs. I would guess that most people with no firsthand Zune experience have a negative perception of Zune.

But now, five months after its release, is Zune turning a corner? There are reasons to think so. Witness:

  • Steady Zune sales numbers reported by NPD and Amazon.
  • A smart marketing campaign tying Zune to Microsoft's much-anticipated release of Halo 3.
  • Reports that Zune's audio quality tromps iPod, from objective audiophiles and blind street tests.
  • Well-received marketing tie-ins with Adult Swim, and artists like MIMS.
  • A promising trend in news reports to say "iPod and Zune", rather than "iPod", when referring generically to MP3 players
  • Apparent nervousness from Apple supporters, who feel compelled to campaign hard to dissuade potential Zune owners.
  • Are these signs that the slow build of Zune is gaining traction? The next few weeks could be telling, with:

  • June 1: Microsoft's rumored Zune announcement (new players perchance?)
  • New Zune marketing campaign underway.
  • Early July: Announcement (we hope) of Zune's sales figures, after Microsoft's June 30th fiscal year end.
  • Comments | Permalink

    Zune accessory giveaways

    May 23, 2007

    Halo 3 fervor rubs off on Zune

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    The world is mad for Halo 3, which is now in public beta through June 20. The latest version of Microsoft's uber-successful multiplayer shooter game will be formally released on September 25th.

    Microsoft is tying the Halo 3 launch to Zune, and its Halo 3 Zune is selling briskly at GameStop and EBgames - in fact, currently right behind Halo 3 itself in both retailers.

    The Halo 3 Zune comes preloaded with Halo 3 content, including music, videos, and artwork.

    If you just can't get enough Halo 3, or Zune, you can indulge in some ebay craziness, or win one from Zunerama moderator pinksage at her GenerationZune site.

    If that's not enough, you can get your fix by repeatedly watching this unboxing video.

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    May 22, 2007

    Hack: getting Windows Media Player to recognize your Zune

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    Zunerama member ronaldmonster is one step closer to breaking the code to get WMP11 to recognize Zune.

    The remaining hurdle - and a crucial one - is getting WMP and Zune to cooperate when it comes to syncing.

    Why go through this effort, one might well ask? Well, this raises hopes for those ardent fans of WMP, who prefer it to Zune's much-harangued PC software.

    Ronaldmonster, we tip our hat to your inventiveness.

    And good luck on the syncing!

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    Zune DVD tutorial

    May 22, 2007

    Zune beats iPod in blind sound test

    by Harvey Chute

    CNET conducted a test that gives further evidence about Zune's sound quality. In a blind sound test, volunteers listen to the same track on both Zune and iPod. In this very limited test of half a dozen people, twice as many people preferred Zune's sound to that of iPod.

    That will come as no surprise to audiophiles, who early on gave Zune the nod as having above average sound quality in the MP3 market.

    Quotes I enjoyed:

    iPod Guy: "I still think there's a lot going for the iPod beyond audio quality".

    Zune Girl: "What is there beyond audio quality.. c'mon!"

    Now excuse me, I'm going to wallow in this rare piece of good press for Zune from the tech media. Feels good...

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    May 21, 2007

    Red Zune? Watermelon Zune?

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    Another Zune has sprung from the depths, this one detected by party photographer CobraSnake and noted by Stefan at IWAPZ.

    It's been described as a red Zune, but it looks kind of watermelony to me.

    Cesar reports that it's legit and that he'll have more news on this particular new Zune, later this week!

    P.S. Happy birthday to ZuneWidow!

    Comments | Permalink

    May 18, 2007

    Zune wireless sharing: a mathematical challenge

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    I know we have a few brainiacs who frequent this site. Maybe some of you can help me...

    Remember the infamous "Zune wireless sharing" test that we did back in January?

    The results of that were widely reported, and I recently received a phone interview from a Wall Street Journal reporter about it. Evidently, that test is regarded as the most extensive research into Zune wireless sharing, to date.

    We can do a lot better, though.

    I'd like to do a statistically-valid random sampling of songs from Marketplace, and test whether the songs can be shared wirelessly.

    Can you math geeks give me some ideas about how to randomly select those songs? I want to get a good sampling that is statistically representative of the whole of Zune Marketplace.

    I await your thoughts!

    Comments | Permalink

    May 17, 2007

    Win a Pink Zune from Zunerama

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    On June 1 we're giving away a sweet pink Zune to one lucky Zunerama member.

    Thanks to the generosity of Cesar from ZuneInsider, one of these limited edition Zunes is yours for the taking.

    All you have to do is post a short letter to Microsoft's Zune team. I'll forward the letters, and on the first day of June I'll randomly draw our winner's name.

    Good luck!

    Comments | Permalink

    May 15, 2007

    Expect new Zune players this autumn, from factory in China

    by Harvey Chute

    Microsoft will start production of new Zune models from a recently-constructed factory in China, according to MarketWatch.

    Zune marketing director Jason Reindorp indicates that the factory will be run by "a partner we're very familiar with." The new factory gives Microsoft "flexibility and control" in "creating a device from scratch and making it down to the last component what we want it to be", Reindorp states.

    The factory is in Doumen, China - which also sports another plant that produces Microsoft's Xbox video game console. Microsoft is not yet disclosing costs and timeframes for the new factory, other than it expects the new devices to be produced from the facility this fall.

    This is a significant departure from today's Zune, which is manufactured on Microsoft's behalf by Toshiba. Why the change? Microsoft reached out to Toshiba with the first Zune for reasons of expediency. Reindorp indicates that now Microsoft wants greater control for the second Zune version.

    Comments | Permalink

    May 14, 2007

    Zune firming up its position as #2 high-end digital player

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    Microsoft has indicated that, based on NPD data, Zune is running second to iPod in hard drive-based player sales, and currently has 9 or 10% of the market. iPod commands the bulk of the other 90% of sales.

    NPD data does not include Amazon sales information. But Amazon's data seems to validate that Zune has a secure hold on 2nd place in the market, effectively knocking down hard drive-based players from Creative, Cowon, Toshiba, Archos, and iRiver - as well as older 5G and 4G models of iPods.

    We've been following Amazon's top 100 hard drive-based players (updated hourly). The above chart (click on it to see enlarged version) shows the ten highest-selling hard drive-based players on Amazon, with the Electronics sales rank for each.

    Amazon's data seems to validate NPD's assertion that Zune has a secure hold on 2nd place in the high-end digital player market. In fact, all 3 of Zune's players are in the top ten. (Amazon counts the different color choices for each player separately.) At this hour, Black is ranked #4, White #8, and Brown #9.

    It would be more meaningful to see Amazon's sales ranks aggregated by player model, rather than broken down by color within player. Zune's 30GB sales are divided among its three (and now, with pink, four) color choices, while iPod's 30GB sales are divided among its two color choices of black and white.

    Zune is likely having an impact on high-end player sales from other (non-Apple) companies. The iPod juggernaut appears to be unfazed thus far, with its black 30GB and 80GB video models holding #1 and #2 spots, and the white 30GB in spot #3.

    Whether this sales mix will change in the coming years depends on many factors - including Microsoft's release of more Zune players, features, and advertising, and the effects of Apple's upcoming release of iPhone and touchscreen iPods. For the near-term, Zune seems to be locking itself into a comfortable #2 position.

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    May 13, 2007

    zune graphic

    Happy Mother's Day

    by Harvey Chute

    This is for all you Zunerama members who happen to be mothers.

    Enjoy your day, Moms, and thanks for being members of this site.

    Comments | Permalink

    May 12, 2007

    I saw it! New Zune commercial

    by Harvey Chute

    Video: The Zune Ad I Saw

    We heard on Tuesday from ZuneInsider Cesar Menendez that a new Zune ad was released, to be aired on popular TV shows and in upcoming season finales.

    My wife and I saw the above ad while watching the Office on Thursday. Liking that!

    Click on the graphic if you haven't seen it. How does it grab you?

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