A survey of 1,725 U.S. teenagers and adults found that of those who planned to buy a digital music player in the next 12 months, 58% who owned iPods and 59% who owned some other brand were either "somewhat likely" or "extremely likely" to choose a Zune, ABI Research said.
"Our conclusion is that iPod users don't display the same passionate loyalty to iPods that Macintosh users have historically shown for their Apple products," ABI analyst Steve Wilson said in a statement. The survey found that only 15% of iPod owners said they were "not very likely" or "not at all likely" to choose Zune.
Given the results, Apple will need to make some big announcements next year in order to maintain its dominant position in the market, Wilson said. "Apple needs a new high-end device that works really well and looks really cool, because other brands are catching up."
Microsoft, on the other hand, will have to differentiate Zune in a meaningful way to attract iPod owners, Wilson said.
Microsoft plans to start selling Zune and launch its supporting online music store this month.