Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zune apocalypse? Google has the truth


There are reports of 30GB Zunes around the world freezing en masse.

With Google's hot trends we can see a stronger indicator of the truth. We're not looking at a number of reports. The search for [zune frozen] is now the most popular search in America.

That's a heck of a lot of Americans searching for the problem.

The screen grab on the left highlights how often Zune problems and requests for help with the Zune have made the top 50 most popular searches.

The problem is clearly a freeze. Currently, the #35 most popular search is [Zune stuck on loading screen] which gives us an even better idea of where the issue is.

You can tell that we've all become used to Microsoft technology. Currently the #25 most popular search is [reboot zune]. People now expect a reboot to solve problems. We then head into the other solution keyword searches of [zune troubleshooting] (at #4), [zune support] and [zune help].

Is this a Year 2009 or Year 2008 issue? A Y2K8 for the Zune? With Google trends we can drill down a little further. Let's explore the [zune frozen] search.

Google tracks nothing for [zune help] until the very start of Dec 31st at PST when the graph kicks in.

There are some things to note here:
  • Zunes around the world can't all be freezing - the Zune never made it around the world. It's not for sale here in the UK, for example.
  • Zunes are therefore found in a fairly tight timezone clump.
  • Google will be aggregating the data; an hour-by-hour analysis won't be that exact.
However, right now, it does look awfully as if Dec 31st 2008 may turn out to be something of a Zune apocalypse for Microsoft. This story is in its early stages but I suspect it'll be worth keeping an eye on.

Update: It seems true. The 30G Zunes have an issue although reports vary as to whether it was midnight or 2am on the 31st that they stopped working.

Microsoft is aware of the issue and told Ars Technica, "We are aware that customers with the Zune 30GB are experiencing issues with their Zune device. We are actively working now to isolate the issue and develop a solution to address it. We will keep customers informed on next steps via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support)."

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