Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer: Zune can beat iPod

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says he can break the dominance of the iPod with the Zune media player that hits stores today. “We can beat them, but it’s not going to be easy,” Ballmer said. “The market will have two big players for a long time, us and Apple.

Obviously we’re the David in this one. Apple’s the Goliath.” Analysts, however, say Microsoft will struggle to win sales. “They’re not going to take a lot of share from Apple,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions.

“If they get double-digit market share overall in a year they’ll be very pleased.” Microsoft may take 5 to 10 percent of the market in the first year, said Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. Meanwhile, UBS AG analyst Benjamin Reitzes expects Apple to sell 15.6 million iPods this quarter, topping the record 14 million sold in the 2005 holiday season.