November 30, 2006

Listen to the Music

I've been reading about the launch of Zune by Microsoft. Zune is the new MP3 player and software that's going up against the leader in the space - Apple's iPod.

Initially the coverage was about the launch, Zune's functionality and comparisons with iPod. For example:
Zune Review, Is this really the best you can do? and Zune: So you want to be an iPod killer.

This week Zune's initial sales data is out. Articles by the Tech Chronicles
iPod vs. Zune Update report and Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog's aptly titled piece - Zune Debuts at No. 2 reflect the consensus view that the Zune is now the #2 music player.

Not bad considering that Microsoft entered a market where the leader has in excess of two thirds market share with its products. In a way, this result is no surprise given the long tail of music players that trail iPod. See for yourself how many music players are out there by performing a product search on any tech site, or by visiting a computer store.

There are hundreds of players. A basic market and competitive assessment would have revealed this opportunity waiting to be addressed. Clearly someone in Redmond did this homework. The debate on whether Zune is bettert than iPod misses what really happened. A product was defined (Zune) and launched that was superior enough. Perhaps not enough to be #1 but enough to beat a long tail of competing products.

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