Microsoft's Zune player has failed in its bid to become a top 10 audio player in the United States. Market research published in the USA by Current Analysis shows that there are eight iPod models in the top ten, which also contains two of SanDisk's Sansa players.

The Zune did however manage to capture 12 percent of sales in the hard disc MP3 player category, but this is still nothing like the success Microsoft was hoping for.

It is clear that Microsoft is missing out by not being able to offer a flash memory player to compete with the SanDisk Sansa or the iPod nano. These players are becoming more popular because they offer up to 10Gb of storage while staying small and light and they also offer superior battery life.

This could inevitably lead to Microsoft developing a flash-based Zune by year's end. It is also likely that the disappointing American sales of the Zune Mark 1 will lead to Microsoft doubling its efforts to release an improved Zune model worldwide by 2008.

The Apple iPod remains far out in front in all sectors of the MP3 market so it's going to take some serious changes for Microsoft to make a dent.