Apple's iPhone is expected to chalk up 1-million sales this week; something that stands in stark contrast to the 1-million Zunes that Microsoft has said it has shipped since its digital music player launched last November. The problem is shippingsomething doesn't necessarily translate into sales- Zunes could be clogging up stockroom shelves in electronics stores all across the USA for all we really know.

This looks unlikely - Microsoft said the end of May that it was confident of exceeding the sales target it set itself in January; a target that gave Microsoft 7 months to hit the magic million, and one that Apple has achieved with its iPhone in just 7 days . No official sales figures have been announced by Apple, Inc.

Microsoft can take some crumbs of comfort from sales of the Zune. It took Apple well over a year to sell just 600,000 iPods when that player first launched in 2001.

However it's also true that the MP3 player market was much smaller back then, and the 1G Apple iPod was only offered for sale to Mac users. Apple achieved total sales of 100-million iPods last April .

Microsoft can justifiably claim to have taken the number two slot in hard disk player sales, where it has 11.3 per cent market share; the Apple iPod takes the lion's share of the rest.

Apple to sell 4 million iPhones by Christmas

Even if Zune sales pick up, Apple is unlikely to be very worried. It's said to have sold 25 million iPods in the time it's taken Microsoft to ship 1 million Zunes; and the iPhone is expected to tot up 4 million iPhones sales this year.

Apple is now predicted to sell 12-million iPhones by the end of 2008, beating a target it set of 10-million units.