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Study: Zune fails to crack top 10 in sales

Market researcher says 8 of top 10 models sold at big retailers during holiday season were iPods; SanDisk held the other 2 spots.

Although Microsoft's Zune captured a decent slice of the hard-drive-based audio player market at large retail stores, it failed to crack into the top 10 list of models in overall sales, according to market researcher Current Analysis.

The top 10 models included 8 different iPods from Apple Computer as well as 2 models from SanDisk, according to the firm, which tracks sales at Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Staples and RadioShack.

The Zune, meanwhile, captured 12 percent of the hard-drive-based player market for December, although Current Analysis' study does not include many retail sales outlets, including Wal-Mart Stores and Apple's own retail stores. An earlier study by the same firm partway through the holiday season found roughly similar results.

"Microsoft did well for a newcomer, but it was competing in a segment that accounted for only one-fifth of all holiday sales," Current Analysis Research Director Samir Bhavnani said in an e-mail interview.

Apple, meanwhile, continues to plug along, he said. "It has retained its top spot without having to turn on a subscription-based download service as a new product offering."

Bhavnani said that he doesn't expect Microsoft to stand still, however. "Looking forward to 2007, I expect to see Microsoft offer a flash-based competitor to SanDisk and the iPod Nano/Shuffle in addition to a less bulky (hard-drive-based) player."

Microsoft has said it plans to expand the Zune effort, which it expects to be a multiyear haul.

The study surveyed sales from Black Friday after Thanksgiving to the end of the calendar year.