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Saturday, 02 January 2010 17:15

Zune HD languishes near bottom of Amazon's bestseller list

With the iPod Touch trouncing sales of Microsoft’s Zune HD media player, is Microsoft just in a holding pattern until it releases the mythical ZunePhone?

An interesting article over at PC World explains that on Amazon’s “Bestsellers in Electronics” list, the iPod Touch is vastly more popular than Microsoft’s Zune HD.

We can see that Amazon’s own Kindle is in the top spot, although no-one knows for how much longer once Apple’s as-yet unreleased tablet hits the streets, and next in line is the iPod Touch 8GB in 2nd spot, and the 32GB iPod Touch in 3rd spot.

At the time of writing, the 32GB Zune HD is in 85th spot, and the 16GB model a spot lower at 86th.

Zune has an HD radio tuner built in, allowing reception of high-def digital audio, but only for the US “HD radio” standard, something that’s incompatible with the DAB+ standard most of the rest of the world uses.

While the Zune HD receives acclaim for its bright OLED screen and a polished user interface, even able to play some games, Microsoft has not chosen to “open” the Zune HD to third party software developers, instantly relegating the Zune HD to media player with extras, not the true handheld computer it could be.

With Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7.0 still months away, an OS that Microsoft promises will properly answer the iPod Touch/iPhone OS, Microsoft is stuck with ever lower WinMo phone sales and a media player that comparatively few want.

Yes, things could be worse – at least the Zune HD makes the top 100 list.

But what Microsoft really needs is a proper mobile operating system that can enable a future ZunePhone to be a real competitor to the iPod Touch and iPhone, while being able to easily scale up to tablet size to enable tablet/slate computing.

Microsoft already has a great OS for tablet computing, and it’s called Windows 7, and while it delivers the best touch experience yet (after well over a decade working on pen touch interfaces), it will be very interesting to see how Microsoft can improve it further in the face of Apple’s tablet, a device that isn’t yet on sale but is expected to revolutionise tablet computing in the same way the iPhone revolutionised mobile telephony, handheld interfaces and mobile computing.

So, it comes as no surprise to see the Zune HD languishing at the bottom of the charts, with the iPod Touch a far more desired and desirable device.

2010 is set to be a banner year for mobile computing, from Google’s Nexus One and Chrome OS to the iSlate/iTablet/iPad from Apple and all the clones in between.

Unless Microsoft can really deliver with Windows Mobile 7 and blow us all out of the water, the tablet market Microsoft has tried so hard for years to ignite will explode into a massive bonfire for Google and Apple, leaving Microsoft with a few smoldering embers.

C’mon Microsoft! Let’s see your real Windows 7 tablet. Shock and awe us with Windows Mobile 7. Show us that you’re truly working to compete against the Apple and Google juggernauts, instead of delivering the warmed over disappointment that is WinMo 6.5!

So far, the brightest spot on the horizon beyond continuing sales of Windows 7 is Project Natal for Xbox 360. If only Natal could be squeezed into a handheld smartphone and made exquisitely useable, Microsoft’s mobile computing division would finally be more “wow” than “ow”!!!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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