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Microsoft Zune music player, which the company launched just weeks ago, has already become the second best digital media player in terms of unit sales, according to market research firm NPD Group.

According to the most recent data from the market research firm, Microsoft Zune digital music device had a 9% market share in its first sales days November 14-18, compared with 63% for Apple. SanDisk, which is usually in the second place to Apple, saw its share fall to 8%. The research firm has not reported sales for the all-important Thanksgiving holiday selling weekend and also does not report sales for Wal-Mart, Amazon.com or the Apple Store, notes USAToday web-site.

“For a new brand that received limited to mixed reviews, and which is incompatible with the leading music store (Apple iTunes) as well as other music stores, it was a good launch,” said Ross Rubin, an NPD analyst.

Microsoft’s Zune player is available in three colours with a duotone approach on each. The device has a 3” screen, contain a 30GB hard disk drive as well as some functionality, not currently available on competing products, such as Apple iPod or Creative Zen, including ad-hoc music sharing between a group of people in the range of the device, FM as well as digital radio, thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity. The cost of the player is $249.

Microsoft’s Zune music player is not a truly affordable solution, yet, the community seem to be quite positive about the device, which costs significantly more than Apple’s most popular iPod nano players, which also appear to be the most popular overall. Still, some analysts believe that Zune’s initial success was conditioned by early adopters as well as those, who dislike Apple’s digital music players for some reason.

“You can sell 50 000 of anything to early adopters. The question is whether Microsoft can be competitive a year from now,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch.

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