Redmond (WA) – Responding to critics who say that the Zune is destined to be a flop, Microsoft today announced that it plans to have sold a million units by June 2007, a sales target that Apple attained about two years after the original introduction of the iPod.
“We think that’s actually pretty awesome,” commented VP of Microsoft’s entertainment group Bryan Lee, before going on to say that he believes the Zune will overthrow the iPod to “be the leader” in the MP3 player market.
The Zune’s release, which was overshadowed by the blockbuster debuts of the PS3 and Wii, was met with lukeward reception. Lackluster reviews have slammed the Zune Marketplace store and criticized the move to just shove the MSN Music store and Microsoft’s PlaysForSure architecture under the rug.
The iPod originally debuted in 2001, with minimal interest initially. The player really took off in 2003, when unit sales topped one million. Despite mediocre launch sales of the Zune, Microsoft thinks it can reach that milestone after just seven months.
However, on the flip side, the market environment is different than it was in 2001. Back then, the MP3 player segment was a niche market with a very fragmented product offering. Apple is credited with opening that segment and transforming a geeky product category into a mass market opportunity. Apple currently sells more than 8.5 million iPods every three months and is reportedly on track to break the 10-million-barrier in Q4.
Even if the Zune eclipses the million unit mark quicker than the iPod did, Microsoft still has a lot of work to do. Predictions are rampant that Apple will sell its 100 millionth iPod before the end of the year.