I really don’t understand the pervasiveness of Zune derision. It seems to be generally accepted that the Zune is a failure, and yet I have never seen any actual data to back that up. Consider this slanted article at Ars Technica about the recent 2.5 software update:

There are two Zune models among Amazon’s top-25 list of bestselling MP3/media players, but 14 different iPod models, five SanDisk Sansas, and three Creative Zens. It’s unlikely that this platform would be strong enough to catapult the Zune community into social networking stardom.

I have two objections to this analysis:

  • It’s meaningless to compare how many Zune models are in the Top 25, compared to how many models of other players (particularly since Amazon’s listings treat different colors as different models). A fair comparison would look at how many actual units have been sold.
  • I don’t care at all about the social-networking Zune “community,” or about the Zune store. Say what you like about those aspects of the Zune, but none of them have any relevance to the success or failure of the Zune as an MP3 player, either in terms of function or sales.

I note that the Ars article doesn’t even mention the functional enhancements in the 2.5 update (most notably, gapless playback and metadata editing). Seems to me the Zune started out as a promising-but-limited player, and has only gotten better over time; but for some reason, the Net commentators are only interested in debating “why the Zune failed.”

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