Two separate sources have confirmed that Microsoft won't be shipping the Zune HD outside the United States this year, thereby shooting themselves in both feet, as Apple went the opposite way with its iPod Touch.
Speaking to Ars Technica, a spokesperson for Microsoft said that "for the time being the Zune HD device will remain US only. Right now we are focused on deploying an exciting service in the form of Zune Video to 18 markets."
Furthermore, the director of Microsoft France Entertainment Division, François Rualt, confirmed that the Zune will not be leaving the US this year and have not intention on marketing it for now.
Microsoft's Zune HD will go on sale on the 15th of September (it was confirmed in May and will support Windows 7 Mobile) and Apple considers it to be a serious competitor, enough for it to slash the price of its 32GB iPod Touch by $120 and offers a 64GB version.
The first Zune was launched back in November 2006 and took 15 months to reach next-door neighbour Canada. It has not been sold (officially) outside those two countries for some weird reasons.
In contrast, the iPhone and the iPod Touch are sold in 77 countries and it shouldn't therefore not be a surprise if Apple can sell millions of iPod Touch while the Zune fails to make a significant impact.
The Zune HD is a great little player if you could get your mitts on it. We don't understand why Microsoft is not launching it worldwide, especially with the fact that it can output HD content and comes with the Zune Pass. The Zune should go on sale in the US for $220 for the 16GB version and $290 for the 32GB model.