Will iPod Owners Swoon For Zune?

Good news for Microsoft. A survey by ABI Research shows that iPod owners are not quite as devoted to their hardware as traditional Mac owners and are willing to consider the Zune player, slated to be released November 14th.

In the survey, ABI asked 1,725 teens and adults if they plan to buy an MP3 player in the next 12 months, and of those who said yes, 58 percent said they were an existing owner of an iPod.

ABI also found that 59 percent of people who owned another brand of MP3 player said they would be “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to choose a Microsoft  Zune player over an iPod or another brand of MP3 player.

Only 15 percent of iPod owners said they were “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to choose Zune.

Microsoft did not respond to requests from internetnews.com for a comment.

“iPod owners don’t seem to have the same love of their devices than Mac owners do,” said Steve Wilson, principal analyst with ABI. He chalked this up to the fact that iPods are simply music playback devices, whereas the Macintosh has much more functionality.

Wilson had figured maybe 30 percent of iPod customers would consider the Zune, not as high as 58 percent. He attributes this willingness on the part of existing customers to look at the competition to a maturing market.

“I think people believe that now there’s other options in the market place and other devices have gotten a lot better,” he said. “So once, when Apple had the nicest device out there, now they are seeing other devices that look good, work well, and maybe are a little cheaper. So I think the market’s catching up.”

For now, Wilson said he thinks Microsoft’s prospects are good in the short term, but it needs to do something more compelling starting next year.

“They’ll do well in the holidays, but the device itself needs to be differentiated. The marketing that I’m hearing from them now regarding social networking, I don’t think it’s all that solid. They need to do more,” he said.

Wilson said he believes Microsoft’s plans to integrate Zune with XBox and XBox Live haven’t been fully disclosed and that if done right could be a powerful selling point.

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