With the dismal sales numbers from the holiday season, the Zune team is definitely having a big time huddle over the last several weeks. While we can all blame a lukewarm economy heading South, there are also fundamental issues. Take a look at this analysis, and head on back for some further discussion.
I think Microsoft made a good product in the Zune. The hard drive based Zunes, 80 and 120 gigs strong, are very good products. They are well made, easy to control, and have decent battery lives. The LCD screens are wasted on just music as many of us use them for. The Zune software is good enough that folks don't complain about it anymore. I use it often and it's stable and capable.
The flash based Zunes are decent, but not spectacular in a crowded field. They're pretty enough, but there's too much competition. Here Apple gets the vote of the kids that buy into their ads marketing, and SanDisk gets the dollars from the spendthrifts seeking good value. It would seem that Zune suffers from "me too" syndrome among this market segment, that it can't find its niche in.
However, Microsoft has made one serious mistake here. They targeted the iPod Classic, which is yesteryear's iPod. It also is not selling spectacularly well. It's pretty clear that if you want to dethrone the leader, you need to attack their best selling flagship product- the iPod Touch. No point in going after second best, right? Heck, I own a Zune 80, and I keep debating if I could use an iTouch as a PDA to replace my Palm T/X, and I don't even buy any Apple products!
If the Zune team wants to seriously get back into this race, they shoud all figure out the weaknesses of the iTouch be scouring the forums. They also need to use it themsleves, and only then can they build a better Zune. It's lousy to see the Zune, which pioneered wireless in a music player, get beat on their own turf.
While the zPhone is dead, will there be an iZune instead