The Microsoft Zune Marketplace is still very much a minnow in the world of online music sales. That's according to a report by the Digital Music News Research Group .

Apparently, of the relatively few US citizens who have purchased a Microsoft Zune MP3 player, only a small number have even bothered to install the accompanying software, let alone purchase songs on it.

The report says that out of all the computers involved in its study, only 0.22 per cent of machines had the Zune Marketplace installed on the hard drive in December 2006. The figure is dwarfed by the 27 per cent of terminals which had iTunes installed in the same time period.

Microsoft is hoping that the Zune Marketplace will develop into a genuine rival to iTunes, in the same way that it hopes the Zune device will eventually rival the Apple iPod . At the moment though, both of those possibilities are a long, long way off.