High Hopes for Zune HD Sales Fade with 2009

January 7, 2010

Microsoft Zune

While it's unlikely that Microsoft executives ever expected to unseat the Ipod as king of all personal media players, they, along with a number of radio broadcast executives, surely must have hoped for more from the Zune HD in terms of 2009 holiday sales than were realized. And the tepid figures posted to date seem particularly disappointing given the relatively positive reception the Zune HD received from tech press just months ago

So how bad was it? Online retail giant Amazon ranked Zune HD 89th in its top 100 index of best-selling electronic devices, trailing just two places behind, of all things, a Sony clock radio -- sans HD Radio. Why? Well, according to PC World's Jeff Bertolucci, one key reason is saturation of the music file player market coupled with Microsoft 's failure to entice third party apps for the device. Price point was also a factor: With most shoppers looking for value in a recession, Zune's position as a high-end product didn't help it fly off the shelves.

Clearly, smart phones were another factor. Apple's Iphone and its competitors have been sucking a lot of oxygen from the media environment over the past year with new apps coming every day and a number of them novel enough to warrant attention.

So, after all the unrequited ballyhoo the Zune HD received from broadcasters during its rollout by Microsoft late last summer, is there a lesson in this for broadcasters? Probably just this: Don't pin your hopes to a platform. Platforms don't deliver an audience -- content does.

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