Yesterday Paul Thurrott welcomed the news that Microsoft had sold it’s millionth Zune, proudly declaring that it’s “not doing all that horribly.”

Thurrott, who does not hesitate to rail against those who point out the Mac’s market share gains, thinks nothing of pimping this piece of Microsoft marketing tripe. Sadly for Thurrott but humorously for us, a funny thing happened on the way to writing the original piece he links to and, well, turns out it’s wrong. Microsoft is gonna probably have sold a million Zunes. Someday.

Even if it had been true, however, Thurrott’s post is an escapade in jackassery.

Of course, Apple sells several million iPods a quarter, so there’s still some ground to make up.

“Some ground.”

This, incidentally, is also what Thurrott calls the land mass between Hungary and Mongolia. We call it the Russian Steppe. He calls it “some ground”.

No one’s really sure why he does this. He just does.

Now, the Oxford American Dictionaries (better known to Mac users as “Dictionary”) defines “several” as “more than two but not many”. The Macalope will leave it up to his intelligent and fabulously sexy readers to decide if last quarter’s 10.5 million or the previous quarter’s 21 million can accurately be described as “several” million.

But still. Not too shabby.

Well, actually, no, still rather shabby.

Microsoft is a notorious channel stuffer, so that might explain why while the company can claim to have “sold” 1 million Zunes you, like the horny one, might not have seen anyone actually using one outside of a CompUSA sales associate killing time before he’s downsized.

Thurrott makes a point of noting in his retraction that Apple only sold half that number in its first six months. Indeed.

Which is amazing considering the size of the overall market at the time and and that the iPod was effectively being sold only to Mac users as it didn’t ship with software for Windows until July of 2002 (see Wikipedia’s iPod entry).

Look, it is much harder to break into the digital music player market now than it was in 2001. But this is also Microsoft we’re talking about. They can practically force retailers to take as many as they tell them to. Is 10% of the hard-drive based market really anything to crow about? Great, it looks like they’ll make their target, albeit probably by stuffing the channel. But the Zune doesn’t have “some ground” to make up. It still has to prove that it can be anything more than a distant second in a subset of the market.

  • GarethB:

    Thurrott is hilarious.

    He quotes overall Mac market share as a negative – completely ignoring the fact that the overall Mac market share is next to irrelevant as it doesn’t compete in all markets- and then goes on to quote Microsoft / Zune market share for a selected market!

    The man is delusional.

  • Tom:

    I took Paul to task for his retraction of yesterday’s post. He was right to retract it, of course, but his implication that it’s no big deal, and that somehow the Zune is even doing better than the iPod did initially, irked me:

    I summed it up thus:

    “To sum this up for Paul, since he doesn’t get it: Apple selling half a million of the original iPod in twelve months, in a new market, at that price, to only Mac users, is far, far more impressive than Microsoft possibly selling one million Zunes in 7.5 months, in a mature market, at a price that’s still current, to Windows users.”

  • DaveD:

    Wow. I half expected a comment from “Smithy”, the MS troll in the comments of the post you linked to. (I refuse to call that blog by their name, lest I be accused of saying DeWitt is not biased.)

  • Splashman:

    Since the Macalope mentioned the Russian steppe, I just have to mention a line from one of my all-time favorite movies:

    “You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia!”

    Just like Nazi Germany in Russia, Microsoft is going to get ground into hamburger competing on Apple’s turf. Their only hope is to redefine the market, like Apple did, and use their muscle to get a dominant position before anyone else realizes what’s going on. That is to say, Microsoft has no hope.

    (And no, I’m not equating Microsoft with Nazi Germany. Well, maybe a little.)

  • John C. Randolph:

    They WISH they were a distant second. The zune has not only failed as an iPod killer, it’s failed as a Creative Zen killer.


  • monkyhead:

    Hm. More than two. But not many. Hm…

    I feel pretty.

  • cd:

    “It still has to prove that it can be anything more than a distant second in a subset of the market”

    You know, the wheels and motors racing guys say, second place is the first loser.


  • Dai Jones:

    Princess Bride is a GREAT movie, recommend it to everyone!

    Let’s make more of the channel stuffing here. XBox 360 *shipments* are 10m; realistic estimates of sales are 6.5m. That’s a whole lot of stuffing! Given MS’s ability to coerce sellers, let’s be kind and estimate actual sales at 750,000. That out of a population of 300, guarantees that you’re never gonna see one. Squirting music anyone?

  • Paul Thurrot is a grotty little weasel of a man, and wondering why he does what he does is like wondering why a monkey throws shit.

    Actually, considering what Thurrot calls “writing”, it is exactly like asking why a monkey throws shit.

    However, in the monkey’s defense, they do occasionally have moments where they are not befouling everything they touch. Thurrot, not so much.

  • Dai Jones:

    Hmm, yes. A population of 300 million that would be.

  • I wonder if Mr. Thurrot’s ears are burning. Does he read these sites? Or has he just grown a pachyderm-like hide.

    I have not seen a Zune or an XBox 360 in the wild. I know one person who has installed Vista on a home computer. I have yet to read a positive comment on either one of them.

    If you really want to understand just how pathetic it really is, I encourage everyone to go look here:


  • Oops…I mean I have yet to read a positive comment on any of them.

  • Love the photo of the iPod Amnesty bin at Zune headquarters:

  • To Dai Jones: indeed I’ve not seen a single one yet. As I started writing this I thought, wait a moment, maybe you can’t buy them in the UK! But it turns out that you can buy them if you want to it’s just that no-one seems to do so.

  • John Muir:

    Not that I’m known for my love of MS or anything, but the xbox360 is an odd one out albeit on a technicality. I know a few people who have them and like them. None are Mac users though! The 360 competes in a field of 3 … so it’s as much to do with the competition’s flaws as it is anything else that compared to the Zune it’s … what’s that word: a moderate “success”? Well, mind, it’s still LOSING money hand over fist so not that much!!

    The Wii (as always) doesn’t attract “Teh HRD K0R3” titles, which some people want. And the PS3 is a real damp squib so far. The 360 is selling well among the small gamer freak segment basically because MS played safe with it and have publishers in a vice. I still expect the PS3 to blow it away though. And since this is the 360’s “window of opportunity”, and it’s still not selling up to MS’s expectations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come 3rd eventually.

    Ah, when 3rd is last. What a market. In mp3 players, MS will be thrilled to snatch overall 3rd from the paws of Creative, Samsung and mighty SanDisk!

  • Benji XVI:

    “Thurrot is a grotty little weasel of a man”

    …this would make such a good song…

  • Jeff:

    The high school where I work has almost 1200 students in grades 11 and 12. It is, to be sure, a prime segment of the mp3 player market. Not surprisingly, I see hundreds of iPods walking through the hallways every day. And the Zune? I have seen one–yes, ONE–single, solitary Zune! 10% market share? I don’t think so…

  • Karl von L.:

    I would just like to go on record as saying that I know a guy who owns a Zune. Thus, I have in fact seen a grand total of 1 Zune in the wild. And I know 2 people who own an XBox 360. So, you know, Microsoft is clearly dominating the consumer electronics space. 😉

  • Ken:

    Uh, guys? The 360 is actually a pretty decent piece of kit (and selling well), despite your apparent hatred of all things M$. The PS3 is a massive debacle, and difficult to program for, to boot. Personally, I’d much rather seen Sony fail in this space than Microsoft.

    Now, the Zune’s a flaming piece of goat dung. I’ve seen one in the wild.

  • Blain:

    I still want to see in stock/sold numbers from independent retailers to see just how much of this is channel stuffing or MS buying up zunes just to increase sales figures.

    Until then, Amazon’s best sellers list will have to do as a metric. Interestingly enough Zune has gotten into the top 10, and isn’t as pathetically lagging behind the iPod as it used to. But there’s quite a few factors stealing even this thunder:

    Even the 5.5 gen iPod is two months older than Zune, so it’s due for an update and closer to the tail of its sales cycle,
    Demand for iPods are probably lower due to 1) a huge christmas season and 2) holding out for an iPhone
    Demand for music players in general lower due to, well, it’s not christmas.

    Regarding the 360, it’s out and about, with hardware problems and such.

  • ClockworkZombie:

    I have an XBOX 360. I like it, the live service is excellent. I am a mac user and don’t do windows on my laptop.

  • DuncS:

    I’m sorry but Thurrott is pretty measured and fair in what he says. I think you miss the hint of sarcasm in his comments about the Zune you quote here. He’s slagged off the Zune plenty. He’s actually a bit of a Mac fanboy himself if you’ve heard his podcast.

    You guys come across as a bunch of fundamentalists with chips on your shoulders about something. Get over it.

  • Duncs,

    Thurott doesn’t treat his lack of knowledge as any kind of impediment to making pronouncements about that which he does not grasp.

    We like Macs. We make fun of people who don’t. If that offends you, feel free to type in a new URL that takes you away. We won’t send anyone looking for you.

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