Finally, Canadians can buy Microsoft's Zune music player. But does anyone care?
In 2006, Microsoft launched the Zune in the States. It was heralded as an iPod killer, but it turned out it was the Zune that got the pounding. To date only about two million units have been sold in the U.S., while worldwide sales of the iPod have topped 150 million. Regardless, on Friday the Zune made its debut in Canada, with three models of varying capacity, from four GB to 80 GB, ranging in price from $139 to $249. So far, the response from consumers and analysts has not exactly been riotous. "Hmm," mumbled Iain Grant of the Seaboard Group when told of the launch. "I guess that would explain why I've never seen one."
The awareness level in Canada for the Zune is so low, many consumers seemed to think that the device was already here. "I didn't realize they weren't in Canada yet," wrote one commenter on a news website that reported the launch. It was the same on blogs and forums across the land. When Microsoft first announced in May that Zune was headed for this country, the popular tech website Engadget wrote: "Hear that? That's the sound of dozens of Canadians rejoicing."
The subdued launch is a sign of the uphill battle the Zune faces in Canada, say analysts. "This has been one of the best stealth marketing plans," says Kevin Restivo, a technology analyst and blogger in Toronto. "The launch has been completely overshadowed by the iPhone." Indeed, anticipation for the Zune has been nothing compared to the clamour surrounding the impending Canadian launch of Apple's iPhone 3G.
Aside from its clandestine debut, the Zune faces another challenge in cracking the Canadian market. According to the PC World website, the Zune's online store for downloading legally purchased music may not launch in Canada until next year. In the meantime, given Ottawa's goal of introducing tougher new anti-piracy legislation, Zune users will have to be careful where they get their tunes.