Report: Microsoft to sell 1M Zunes by June

Apple has likely sold around 25 million iPods over the same time it has taken the Zune to reach its goal, say analysts

Microsoft will have sold over 1 million Zune players by the end of June, which the company considers a good but not earth-shattering performance for the product.

Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, made the comment to San Francisco Chronicle during an interview that is posted as a recording on the newspaper's website.

"It's a good start. It's not an overwhelming start. I'm not going to pretend it's some gigantic move," Bach said during the interview, which is posted online. The Zune has a 10% market share in the hard-disk-based music player category, he added.

The article, which transcribes an edited version of the interview, quotes Bach as saying that Microsoft already has sold over a million Zunes. But the recording reveals that Bach said the company will have passed the sales milestone when its fiscal year ends June 30. A spokeswoman with Microsoft's public relations firm confirmed the time frame.

The figure refers to units sold to end users, not to retailers, the spokeswoman said. Microsoft began selling the Zune in mid-November.

The million unit figure beats Apple. It took the iPod 14 months to reach 600,000 shipments, but it was much earlier in the game than the Zune, when the market for digital music players wasn't so hot. Apple has likely sold around 25 million iPods over the same time it has taken the Zune to reach its goal, according to financial analysts.

Microsoft has a lot more work to do with the Zune. Despite a better-than-expected start, it's far behind the iPod both in terms of number of users and popularity.

Apple sold 10.55 million iPods during the three months ending March 31, and announced it had sold its 100 millionth on April 9 of this year. The company has also generated enthusiasm for the device through over 4,000 accessories made for the iPod, including stereo hook-ups in more than 70% of 2007-model US cars and a deal with Nike to use iPods with certain running shoes that collect workout information.

The company also has its new iPhone coming out soon, a product Bach indicated Microsoft will not compete against directly with a Zune phone, according to the Chronicle report. Microsoft will continue to work with handset makers to provide software used in different styles of mobile phones, because mobiles are deeply personal devices, he said.

"In the phone space, we're very comfortable with the model we've chosen...We work with handset manufacturers and operators to produce that web of offerings, while still producing the same consistent software so people can get done what they need to get done regardless of which phone they choose," he reportedly said.

The San Francisco Chronicle article can be found here.

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