photo courtesy Applephoto courtesy Microsoft

hannahjochem ’10


The iPod craze began in 2001, when Apple debuted its first generation iPod. The technology quickly took hold, as people realized the revolutionary capabilities of the device. According to TechCrunch, Apple sold 100 million iPods after just five years on the market while it took TV thirteen years to reach a market audience of just 50 million. However, the iPod has a rival that is rarely mentioned, but it includes many of the same revolutionary features as the iPodMicrosoft’s Zune. 




Apple has revolutionized the way people listen to music through the invention of the iPod. People no longer have to carry box radios or personal CD players, and tapes have become objects of some unidentifiable past. 

The iPod has proven attractive to customers through its wide range of convenient capabilities. Not only does it have the ability to store vast amounts of music, but it also comes with a calendar to help manage a schedule, a place to store contact information, an application to keep notes, an application that tracks the stocks, the current weather and a calculator. 

iTunes, Apple’s online store, offers another realm of opportunities, including over 10 million songs, normally 99 cents each, an infinite supply of movies, TV shows, games and 100,000 applications. The App store has a variety of downloadable applications, for example an application to get driving directions or a workout calculator. Genius is another feature of Apple’s iPod that creates playlists of songs already in your library that go well together and suggests songs that have some of the same qualities.

The iPod has undisputedly taken over the music world through its ground-breaking technology and ability to store large amounts of music combined with its compact design. The iPod’s popularity was showcased in a study done by the Pew Research Center, declaring that one in five people under the age of 30 reported owning an iPod.

Even in these trying economic times, Apple still manages to overwhelm the business world with its revenues.

Steve Jobs, CEO, of Apple, in a Jan. 2009 press release, said “Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history—surpassing $10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever.”

The sales of the iPod speak to the amount of competition Microsoft’s Zune is providing in this battle—virtually none.




Resembling an MP3 device like Apple’s iPod, Microsoft’s Zune is a product with many of the great qualities of an iPod, yet it remains less popular.

According to Microsoft’s website, an 8 GB Zune costs $189.99, which is $10 less than Apple’s iPod Touch for many of the same great qualities and, in some cases, more.

Like an iPod, the Zune includes wireless capabilities, an endless supply of downloadable games, music, TV shows, movies, and touch controls. In addition, the 8 GB Zune holds up to 2,000 songs, 25,000 photographs, or 24 hours of video—more than the iPod. The Zune also offers wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing, meaning Zune owners can share their music, pictures and audio podcasts with other Zune owners where Wi-Fi is available. The Zune also offers a built-in FM radio from which songs can be directly purchased.

The rival to Apple’s iTunes, Zune Marketplace offers many of the same features, including downloadable music, games, videos and podcasts. However, instead of paying for an individual download, like when using iTunes, Zune Marketplace costs a flat rate of $15 per month for unlimited downloads. 

When compared to an iPod, the qualities offered by the Zune seem more practical and advanced.  

Senior Kathy Chilikov, owner of a 120 GB Zune Digital Player, said, “iPods cannot compare to Zune…With Zune, users can surf the web as well as look through personal photo albums. What’s even better is that you can listen to radio from all around the world.”

Chilikov also said that the podcasts, music videos and FM radio are her favorite features on her Zune.

The Zune offers more features than even an iPod, however, Microsoft’s Zune still has not seen the success of Apple’s iPod.

In a comparison of sales between the iPod and the Zune, Rolling Stone Magazine revealed that Zune’s sales were down 54 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 when compared to the same time in 2007.

No matter what type of technology is needed by the customer, either Apple or Microsoft will fulfill the need with their revolutionary MP3 devices.