updated 05:15 pm EDT, Sat September 19, 2009
Zune HD sales very high
Microsoft's Zune HD is already encountering sellouts less than a week into its availability, according to multiple reader reports. At Amazon, the 16GB modelremains in stock but the 32GB version is already facing a one- to three-week shipping delay. Visitors to Fry's see a reverse situation where the 16GB model is out of stock; the worst affected so far is Best Buy, which claims to be "backordered" for either capacity.
Microsoft's own store continues to sell both models without warnings of supply issues.
The cause of the apparent shortage isn't known. Only one widespread shortage is known to have affected the Zune in the past, when in December 2007 the company had low supply of the hard drive-based Zune 80. However, research firm iSuppli at the time believed that Microsoft had triggered the shortage by knowingly shipping a small number of Zune 80s, not expecting its most expensive model to sell in high numbers. That cause is unlikely to be mirrored today as the Zune HD is now Microsoft's only media player and has received a high profile launch that puts pressure on the company to have sufficient stock.
Long term success may be difficult for the touchscreen player. The company's players are inexpensive but are undercut in price at the bottom end by the 8GB iPod touch. It also doesn't have a 64GB player and currently lacks a substantial app platform, a factor that has been considered essential in the success of the iPod touch since the second generation was made available a year ago. Apps on the Zune are currently limited to a small number of free, mostly first-party titles.