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Zune grabs No. 2 spot at retail during first week

An initial surge in demand has given fans of Microsoft's Zune something to cheer about, as the player captured the No. 2 spot for all digital media player sales at retail during its first week on the market.

According to NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale data for the week ending November 18, the iPod rival secured a nine percent unit share, representing 13 percent of the dollars spent in the U.S. portable digital player market.

Zune was bested only by Apple Computer's iPod, which retained its dominant share during the week by grabbing 63 percent unit share and 72.5 percent dollar share.

"Microsoft attracted early adopters in a successful launch week for Zune, eking out Sandisk as the No. 2 digital audio player vendor," said Ross Rubin, NPD's director of industry analysis. "This was especially impressive given the Zune's single capacity configuration and relatively high price point."

NPD says its weekly POS data is culled from a selective set of retailers that are part of its monthly panel, meaning it does not take into effect digital media player sales at Apple's own retail stores, among others.

It should also be noted that sell-through figures compiled during a product's initial week on the market are not necessarily indicative of that product's overall share, and are often influenced by pent-up demand.

Still, NPD's data could represent the potential for Zune's long term share gains. The group's findings eerily resemble a similar retail survey conducted by PiperJaffray, which found that retail clerks were recommending Zune to customers 8 percent of the time compared to the iPod at 75 percent of the time.

However, PiperJaffray in its polls also found that some retail salespeople were completely oblivious to the Microsoft player.