Today, Microsoft released an update to the Zune PC software that makes it compatible with Vista plus they also released firmware update 1.2 which seems to have no function changes but generally improves performance.
Everyone seems to be on the edge of their seats watching Zune sales performance so there was a lot of punditry when research group NPD released their final November retail store sales stats. How it looks depends on your point of view: Zune does a bit better than expected or Zune sales continue to weaken. I’ll just quote the numbers as reported by Troy Wolverton at the Mercury News and you can provide your own spin:
Although Microsoft didn’t release the Zune until more than halfway through November, the company was the second-leading manufacturer of hard disk drive-based media players, capturing 9 percent of the U.S. retail market, according to NPD. Including both flash memory and hard disk drive players, Microsoft came in fourth, with 1.9 percent of the market.
The company’s much-hyped entree into the MP3 player market appeared to have little affect on industry leader Apple. Although Apple’s share of the hard drive market fell to 82.7 percent from 86.8 percent a year ago, its share of the overall market came in at 62.2 percent, essentially even with the 63 percent it posted a year ago.
SanDisk was No. 2 with 18.4 percent of the overall market, up from 17.5 percent last year.
Microsoft Watch’s Joe Wilcox has a table of the numbers that makes things clearer.
RealMoney’s Michael Comeau (who has some other Microsoft predictions that are also eminently sensible):
Microsoft will kill the first Zune media player by midyear, and I will write a column headlined “Goodbye to the Social,” outlining Microsoft’s obvious strategic errors in developing the device, specifically the decision to not design a new player from the ground up. However, Microsoft will have some modest success with a new media player designed 100% from the ground up, which will be out in time for the 2007 holiday shopping season.
Microsoft considers games for Zune. Now that would be a good way to use the Wi-Fi without paying the record companies.