It's no secret that since its first weeks out around Thanksgiving, Microsoft's Zune iPod-killer isn't exactly flying off the shelves. Today, News.com's Ina Fried reports that Microsoft appears poised to reach deeper into its warchest in hopes of driving more buyers to Zune:
...now that the music player has spent a month on the market, the company is considering increasing its advertising to attract more attention to it.
"We are talking about upping that spend a little more," Marketing Director Jason Reindorp told CNET News.com last week.
Microsoft debuted the Zune to mixed reviews last month. The device had a strong initial sales week, but has dipped in sales rankings since that point, according to market tracker NPD and online retailer Amazon.com's sales chart.
Fried goes onto report:
And many of those first-week buyers were probably from the hard-core gadget enthusiast crowd. They're not the young hipsters that Microsoft is hoping to convince to buy the Zune and "squirt" songs with their friends--Microsoft's term for sharing music files over the built-in Wi-Fi connection....
...."We recognize that Zune cannot expect to compete for mass market mindshare on the same level as iPod in the short-term," Peter Kingsley, group manager for Zune brand marketing, said in an e-mail. "Striving for this would be fool-hardy."
Kingsley said the company's goal is to launch the Zune brand and focus on with wireless sharing ability. With its ads, he said Microsoft wanted to stand in "stark contrast" to the iPod.
And therein lies the problem. It comes as no surprise to me that Zune's sales are falling short of expectations given the way Microsoft is taking it to market. Sure, it's targeting the right segment given where it's placing its ads. But, as I've written a bunch of times already, Microsoft's focus on Zune technological capabilities -- namely the "squirting" feature -- is misplaced. This market is no longer about functionality. Functionality is simply the price of admission. After that, it's all about fashion baby and until Microsoft puts someone as cool as Bono on it's payroll (what Apple has done), Zune is going to lumber along in the basement. Of course it's appealing to gadget heads. Who else would really care about WiFi in a portable audio player?
Back when I talked about how Microsoft would have to fight the fashion war -- an unfamiliar battleground for Microsoft -- to gain ground against Apple, I polled ZDNet's audience to see who should be "Microsoft's Bono." A whopping 46 percent of the 525 people who voted said Microsoft shouldn't even waste its money and that Microsoft can't win (the first place vote getter). In a distant second place, getting 10 percent of the vote was Stephen Colbert and 9 percent said Microsoft could win on technology. Victoria's Secrets models came in fourth place with 6 percent of the vote.