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July 20, 2007

1 million Zunes goal is met, and then some. Should we care?

by Harvey Chute

It's official, folks - Cesar of ZuneInsider reports that the Zune team did indeed meet its goal of selling a million players by June 30.

In fact, Microsoft blew past that goal by 20%, reporting 1.2 million Zunes sold. As noted earlier, that goal is a "sold-in" figure - representing players shipped to retailers. That's how Microsoft has always reported sales, and is in fact consistent with other competitors in the digital player space, including Apple.

Is this significant? Oh yes! Consider the impact of this milestone:

  • It's hard evidence that Microsoft is meeting its internal sales expectations. Sounds obvious, but this is crucial in the long view. If the sales goal had been missed, Microsoft would likely have to review its projected return on investment for Zune - and perhaps make some hard business decisions. Instead, Microsoft is reaping the kind of results that it had planned for in its Zune business plan, and that bodes well for future investments.
  • The sales goal was surpassed despite new market obstacles. When Microsoft announced this goal last December 7, Apple's iPhone had not been announced, nor had iTunes DRM-free premium song purchases been released. Both of those events had - and still have - the potential of swaying potential Zune purchasers over to Apple. Zune sales beat its target despite these competitive changes. It's a promising sign that consumers are ready for a two-horse digital player market.
  • Zune detractors lose an opportunity. Zune-berating is a new, easy way for the tech elite to sound savvy and superior. Unfortunately, all too often that negative sniffing makes the Zune detractors appear pompous and... just maybe... a little worried. Apple followers are still stinging from Microsoft's OS domination over Mac, and they'll do anything to avoid being hit by another steamroller. If Microsoft had missed this sales goal, it would have given much reason for gloating to the Apple camp.
  • Of course, some will downplay this milestone. But look at this way: if Microsoft had missed its Zune sales target, do you think that its competitors would consider that significant? You bet.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 20, 2007

    Final reminder: Zune drawing tomorrow

    by Harvey Chute

    Zunerama turns one year old tomorrow, and to celebrate we're giving one of you a brand new 30GB Zune player of your choice. Choose from pink, red, black, brown, or white. We'll ship it directly to you.

    You have a few more hours to throw your entry in. Good luck, Zuners and Zuner-wanna-be's..!

    Comments | Permalink

    July 19, 2007

    Back from the beach

    by Harvey Chute

    Back online today, after five days of car camping at Cape Lookout in Oregon.

    With a six hour drive to get there, we were happy to have our Zunes to make the miles go faster as we rolled down I-5. Once again I made good use of our Griffin cassette adapter, and the DLO car charger.

    Once at the campsite, though, the family rules kick in. (Okay, they're really ZuneWidow's rules, but I willingly comply.) No texting. No cell phones. No Blackberry. No Zunes. And no blogging!

    And our time was full as it was. We took full advantage of our first day there, and spent most of it at the beach and getting pounded by the ocean surf.

    For the rest of the time, we had steady rain. We're usually lucky with weather on our camping trips, but not this year. With three large tarps and oh, about 500' of rope, we stayed pretty dry for meals and sleeping.

    It was a great break! My Zune and I are both fully re-charged and back at it.

    Comments | Permalink

    Zune accessory giveaways

    July 13, 2007

    A monumental giveaway: the VAF Octavio 1

    by Harvey Chute

    Over the past two weeks, we've announced 113 Zune accessory giveaways from nine accessory makers*. It's been a memorable celebration of Zunerama's first birthday.

    Today, we close out our birthday celebration... and we're doing it in big, showstopping way.

    Our tenth and final accessory maker to join the party has arrived. It's VAF, and this giveaway is for... the amazing Octavio 1 for Zune.

    Some of you already deduced this from our parcel-on-the-doorstep teaser. From the emails and PMs I've received, this is a very highly-anticipated product.

    And it's not hard to see why. The Octavio 1 is a self-contained 100-watt stereo system for Zune. It sports a Zune cradle that plays music from your Zune and charges it at the same time. With its standard rear inputs, you can connect any MP3 player to it as well. You can even connect video output from the Zune cradle to your TV, to watch videos and pictures on a big screen, while the Octavio speakers pound out the soundtrack.

    With a whomping 8" bass diaphragm, two 5.25" woofers, and two fluid-damped fabric-dome tweeters, this 26-pound package is ready to rock your next house party. You audiophiles will be pleased to know that it "provides digital equalization for natural accurate sound response from under 40 Hz to over 20,000 Hz".

    All I know is, the Octavio sounds great.

    It looks good, too. The Octavio 1 is wrapped in a leather-style finish, and also comes with three cloth skins - black, pink, and white - that let it fit in with your decor.

    And when your party's rocking, there's no need to interrupt your best dance moves. You can control all functions from across the room, with the included fully-featured remote control.

    Many thanks to VAF for offering this giveaway to Zunerama members! The Octavio 1 retails for $499. I am pretty sure this bags the record as the largest single-item giveaway in the history of Zune-ness.

    You can see more product info at this Amazon link.

    Also, check out VAF's website for their full line of advanced audio products.

    We'll have a full photo review of the Octavio 1 coming up, so you can get more of our impressions and see this beast up close. For now, we've got a couple of more pics at the giveaway thread.

    But let's get down to business! To enter to win the Octavio 1, just post in our giveaway thread, and tell us the first song you're going to play once you've hooked this bad boy up.

    Good luck, everybody!

    *That's one Zune 30GB player, 5 DLO Home Docks, 14 Speck cases, 10 Griffin cases, 50 Case-Mate cases, 10 DecalGirl skins, 10 licensed copies of M2Convert for Zune, 1 ZuneTank, 1 gadget bag and 1 accessory bundle from Proporta, and 10 Zune starter kits from Incipio. Plus the Octavio 1 makes 114. Whew!

    Comments | Permalink

    Turn your 
desktop into a beautiful aquarium!

    Elegant fish, swaying plants, rising bubbles, full stereo music...
    Get 3D Aquarium

    July 12, 2007

    Win 1 of 10 Incipio Zune starter kits!

    by Harvey Chute

    Our friends at Incipio are joining our birthday party, with ten Zune starter kits to Zunerama members! The starter kit is a handy bundle for any Zuner, with a Zune A/V cable, a Zune cleaning kit, and an Incipio Zune case.

    Check out these and other accessories for Zune in Incipio's Zune product pages.

    To enter to win one of these, post a reply in our giveaway thread.

    Not a member yet? You're missing out! Register here.

    Comments | Permalink

    Zune DVD tutorial

    July 12, 2007 launched

    by Harvey Chute

    Microsoft has created a new website,

    Behind the marvelously understated domain name lies Zune-related event info. This includes Zune sweepstakes and a calendar and pictures of LiveNation's concert events. Zune is partnering with LiveNation on events featuring Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Dave Matthews Band, Marilyn Manson, Bryan Adams, Jimmy Buffett, and many more.

    Check out the Zune Zoom Away sweepstakes - it gives you a chance to win one of forty Zune players, and a cool concert-for-two grand prize.

    Comments | Permalink

    Find Zune accessories on Amazon

    July 11, 2007

    Tell us your favorite U.K. band and win Proporta accessories

    by Harvey Chute

    Our Zunerama birthday celebration goes international today, as we are joined by U.K.-based accessory maker Proporta.

    Proporta is bearing some lovely gifts, pictured above: its Gadget Bag, a set of two magnetic cable tidies, a pair of green stereo headphones (which would look great with that brown Zune!), and an Alu-Leather Flip Type case!

    The gadget bag (retailing for $47.95) has a myriad of padded compartments to protect your Zune and other mobile devices. Each compartment has a plastic aperture, allowing headphones and charging cables to be fed through each section.

    The Alu-Leather retails for $34.95, and is a nicely hand-crafted case. It protects your Zune with a leather-clad sheet of rigid, lightweight aircraft grade aluminum. I really like the case, and will have a photo review coming up for it.

    These Proporta accessories will be given away to Zunerama members - but I get to keep the English breakfast tea that came with the package. Cheers!

    To enter to win these, tell us your favorite U.K.-based band, in our giveaway thread. That'll help our friends at Proporta feel right at home here at Zunerama..!

    Not a member yet? That is easily cured.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 11, 2007

    Zune Marketplace tip: buying individual songs when you have a Zune Pass

    by Harvey Chute

    Related to my Zune tech support call, I should add a note about the problem I had and how to avoid it:

    First, the situation was, I was trying to purchase an album from ZMP that I had previously downloaded through my Zune Pass subscription.

    You may be wondering why I would want to do that. I was creating a DVD slideshow for my parents, using Pinnacle Studio video editing software. I wanted to lay tracks down as background music, and the Studio software won't recognize the WMA audio format. So, to get my tracks in MP3 format, I decided to purchase the album, burn it to CD, and rip MP3's from the CD.

    However, after I paid for the album, Zune software did not download the tracks. Instead, each track showed a status of "Already In Library".

    Zune software evidently did not recognize that the tracks needed to be downloaded anew, with the modified rights associated with a purchased track.

    It seems that, if you have a track downloaded through Zune Pass, and subsequently decide you want to purchase that track, you should first delete the Zune Pass track from your Library and PC, before downloading the purchased track.

    Sounds like a Marketplace bug to me. It's probably a reasonably rare situation. But "deleting first" seems to be the workaround to that scenario.

    Comments | Permalink

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

    July 11, 2007

    My Zune tech support experience

    by Harvey Chute

    I called Zune tech support yesterday for the first time.

    I had purchased an album, which I had previously downloaded with my Zune Pass.

    The points were deducted, but only two tracks from the album downloaded.

    After poking around for a bit, I called the Zune help line. This was on Sunday afternoon.

    4:22pm - place call. After hearing a greeting message, and selecting option 2 for Zune software, a rep answers. No wait time... so far, so good.

    He gets my name, and determines my Zune is not registered. I give him the serial number for my player, he takes my address info. That all happens pretty quickly.

    4:25pm - I explain the problem I encountered. He asks me to check Incomplete Transactions. (I already had, but I play along.) Nothing shows up there.

    He then asks me to try re-purchasing the album, and he'll credit me the points for it. He suggests deleting the tracks for the album that I already have.

    4:35pm - I do that, and the album downloads fine. He then credits me the Points for the second purchase. I check my Account as he's doing this, and the points show up immediately.

    4:42pm - We're done.

    The rep was heavily accented but understandable. I was reasonably pleased to get it resolved and my account credited in 20 minutes. Not bad for my first Zune tech support call.

    What have your experiences been?

    Comments | Permalink

    See Zune Players on Amazon: Black, White, Brown

    July 10, 2007

    Win the toughest of all Zune cases... the ZuneTank!!

    by Harvey Chute

    You remember Zunetank. We featured it a couple months ago in one of our most popular giveaways ever.

    It's machined from a solid aluminum bar and is virtually unbreakable. The one pictured above has a great-looking anodized finish, and a cushy soft felt interior.

    And it may be coming your way, courtesy of YoTank. Just reply to our giveaway post to enter!

    Winner will be drawn on September 12. Good luck, Zuners!

    Comments | Permalink

    July 10, 2007

    Dissin' the new MP3 player

    by Harvey Chute

    Consider for a moment the following quotes:

    Great, just what the world needs, another freaking MP3 player.

    I still can't believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new!

    Gee! an mp3 player with a HD! how original!

    This is far from revolutionary. I for one am disappointed and think that they're making a mistake by trying to get into this market.

    Why can't they make it work with both PCs and Macs??

    Probably sounds familiar. You've heard it before - non-believers trashing Zune.

    Well, not quite. Those quotes are from October 23, 2001... when Mac Rumors posted details about Apple's new iPod.

    Makes for an interesting perspective, nearly six years later.

    Edit: I'm told a similar story was posted by ValleyWag after Zune's launch. I haven't been able to find that story, but will post a link here if someone sends it.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 9, 2007

    Win one of 10 licensed copies of M2Convert for Zune

    by Harvey Chute

    M2 Solutions is giving a fully-licensed copy of M2Convert for Zune to each of ten lucky Zunerama members!

    M2Convert for Zune is a software package that converts DVDs and multimedia files into Zune-compatible Windows Media Video (.wmv) files. It supports DVDs and a wide range of video formats including AVI, ASF, WMV, MOV, MPG, OGG, MP4, DivX, IFO, and many more. See more in our M2Convert software review.

    Enter in our M2Convert giveaway thread. The first of our ten winners will be drawn randomly on September 14.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 9, 2007

    Zune ads prominent in Live Earth concert

    by Harvey Chute

    Yesterday's Live Earth worldwide concert was watched by over 10 million through MSN's live broadcasts.

    Those millions were exposed to a Zune ad before being taken to the concerts. While some didn't like that, this was a way of getting the Zune word out to a broad audience... something we certainly like to see.

    You can still see the performances (sans the Zune ad) through MSN on demand.

    Pictured: Phil Collins. (AP photo).

    Comments | Permalink

    July 8, 2007

    Zunerama giveaways underway now

    by Harvey Chute

    Our Zunerama birthday celebration has received a great response from Zune accessory makers. In addition to our own giveaway of a Zune 30GB player, accessory makers are giving us 5 DLO Home Docks, 14 Speck cases, 10 Griffin cases, 50 Case-Mate cases, and 10 DecalGirl skins.

    And that's not all. As I noted yesterday, more great giveaways will be added next week, including the major accessory shown above.

    Know what that is? Hint: click on the pic to see it on Amazon. This $499 item will soon be on the doorstep of one very lucky Zunerama member. Good luck with this and all of our giveaways!

    Comments | Permalink

    July 7, 2007

    Zunerama hits the river

    by Harvey Chute

    The above pic helps to explain yesterday's lack of posts by your faithful Zune blogger. I spent the past two days in British Columbia, celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary - and got in some whitewater rafting while I was there.

    With old friend Terry and new friend Neil, we paddled about ten miles down the Thompson River. The river was running about 65,000 cubic feet per second - low enough for some rapids to be peaking, and high enough for us to witness some impressive hydraulics like boils and whirlpools.

    We lucked out with a perfect 90-degree day, and had a good run through rapids like the Frog, Devil's Kitchen, and the Jaws.

    Rafting's an activity close to my heart, as I worked for seven summers as a river guide while in high school and university. Terry was a fellow guide during that time. It was great to re-experience the ol' Thompson Gorge with him one more time.

    Meanwhile, our Zune forums have been hopping, so I've been catching up on your threads. I also returned home today to find more gifts from accessory makers, to give out as part of our Zunerama birthday celebration. Stay tuned for more on that; right now I'm going to go dry off before I short-circuit this keyboard. :)

    Comments | Permalink

    July 5, 2007

    Win your choice of DecalGirl Skin for your Zune

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    DecalGirl is offering ten free Zune Skins to Zunerama members, as part of this month's birthday celebration. Thanks to Ryan from DecalGirl!

    Not sure what these bad boys are? See our review here, which includes a video demonstration of how to apply the skin to your Zune.

    DecalGirl has over 70 great styles of Skins for Zune. Click on the image above to see their whole selection.

    The DecalGirl giveaways start on July 12; to enter, just tell us which skin you want!

    Comments | Permalink

    July 4, 2007

    Zune 2GO and

    by Harvey Chute

    We'll engage in some hypothesizing here, and consider how the rumored flash-memory Zune may be taking shape.

    This is based on three pieces of information: a recent flash-based Zune rumor, the registration of the domain name, and a recent Microsoft-SanDisk agreement.

    How do these three puzzle pieces fit together? Read on.

    1. Zune 2GO, if the leaks are true, is a miniature device with the same dimensions as a standard SD card. That's roughly the height and width of postage stamp - and significantly smaller than the iPod Shuffle. (The image on the right is a Zunerama mock-up.)

    2. According to leaked info from review site BefoReview, Zune 2GO will plug directly into a computer's SD card slot. No cables required! Essentially, your whole music player fits into your PC's card slot.

    Once it's loaded with music, you play it by inserting Zune 2GO directly into a receiving device, such as a built-in slot in headphones. Presto: cordless headphones. Your player is so diminuitive that it just disappears into your headphones. Very cool.

    3. In a passing reference in the BefoReview writeup, the receiving device (embedded into a headphone) is dubbed a "sleeve".

    Presumably - and I'm conjecturing here - sleeves could be incorporated into other devices - such as docking stations and vehicle consoles.

    4. The recent registration of, apparently by Microsoft, seems to lend credibility to the notion that this type of device could be actively in development.

    5. Microsoft's recent technology-sharing agreement with SanDisk may also be a related development. According to that agreement, the two companies are working together to "create new software and hardware offerings to be incorporated onto removable flash memory cards and SanDisk's Cruzer USB flash drives."

    Interesting, no? It all seems to fit together rather nicely.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 3, 2007

    50 Zunerama members to win Case-Mate leather cases!

    by Harvey Chute

    Case-Mate is joining our Zunerama birthday celebration, and will give away fifty of its Signature Leather cases to Zunerama members. Thank you, Case-Mate!!

    I've received samples of these luxurious cases, and will be posting a photo-review shortly. They're made of pebblestone leather and have a rich feel to them. These cases also come with a protective shield that covers your player's screen and control pad.

    You'll like the colors, too: Phantom Black, Alpine White, Sienna Red, Peony Pink and Mocha Brown. Winners will get to select their color choice.

    To enter, just post in our giveaway thread. We'll start drawing our fifty random winners on August 8.

    Check out Case-Mate's website to see all of their products for Zune.

    Good luck!

    Comments | Permalink

    July 2, 2007

    The book arrives!

    by Harvey Chute

    There is much joy in Zuneville here, as the mailman just delivered a package from Wiley Publishing. It's a thrill to see the final product, after the sweat and toil and, okay, mostly joy, that went into it!

    Still the same release date when it'll be available on Amazon, B&N;, and all those great places.

    I'll have to ask ZuneWidow if I can pop some champagne tonight...

    There's a close-up pic available in the forums - just click on the Comments link below.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 1, 2007

    The Zune rap

    by Harvey Chute

    "We all know the Zune is the bomb,
    an Mp3 player, no need for CD ROM,
    a.k.a. the ipod killer,
    make you dance like you in a scene of Michael Jackson's Thriller,
    you can put it horizontal or vertical like a pillar..."

    So begins Zune Bomb, a rap created by Zunerama member Grinace. Grinace submitted the rap in response to our Griffin Centerstage contest, which challenges entrants to post their entries in poem or rhyming fashion.

    Nice work, Grinace! Thank you!

    You can hear the rap at Grinace's myspace page; full lyrics are in our forums.

    Comments | Permalink

    July 1, 2007

    Did Zune make the 1 million mark?

    by Harvey Chute

    zune graphic

    Yesterday was the last day of Microsoft's fiscal year, and it's also the milestone date for its goal of shipping one million Zunes.

    In May, the company indicated it was on track to hit this goal, which had earlier been questioned, at least in the tech blogosphere, as wildly optimistic.

    Note that this figure is for Zunes shipped to retailers, not necessarily sold by retailers to customers. Even so, there's a limit to how much product inventory retailers will accept, so Microsoft can't game this number (much) by flooding its Zune distribution channels.

    In other words, the "million Zunes shipped" marker is a pretty good indication of how well Zunes are moving into the hands of customers.

    So, we're anxious to hear the results. Did Zune hit the million marker?

    Comments | Permalink

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