The 30GB Zune, competitively priced at $249 (the same as a 30GB iPod), hasn’t exactly been flying off of store shelves. While the player has plenty of cool, including a wireless feature that lets users share songs with other Zune owners and a screen that keeps video upright no matter which angle you position it, Zune does have a few not-so exciting bells and whistles.

Detractors cite the proprietary DRM technology that’s unique to Zune as a major negative. Then there’s the point system Microsoft insists on using for its Zune online music store. At the Zune Marketplace you can’t just plug in your credit card number and purchase a song. Instead, you have to whip out the plastic and purchase points, with the minimum purchase being 400 points for $5. Then you use the points to purchase music.

But Microsoft has been trying to have it both ways with Zune. Although Zune is meant to compete with Apple’s iPod, for months the company has downplayed that aspect in its marketing campaign. At the same time, Microsoft keeps insisting that Zune will eventually become the top-selling personal music player.

However, the playing field isn’t quite level between Zune and iPod. Right now Zune is sold only in the United States and, while the company is expected to start selling Zunes overseas, no international strategy has been announced.

Zune had a good start, according to research company NPD Group, which tracked the unit’s sales and ranked it as the second best-selling personal player shortly after it hit the markets. However, promotions for cheaper, non-iPod players during Thanksgiving weekend, the so-called Black Friday weekend, resulted in Zune dropping to the No. 5 slot.

Plus, figures weren’t all that Zune friendly. The online retailer recently ranked it as the 55th best-selling item in electronics, placing it far behind products by Apple, Creative Technology and SanDisk.

But Microsoft isn’t alone in thinking Zune will be a winner.

“From a purely sales performance, I think it’s done fine,” said NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker. “I didn’t expect it to sell zillions of units out of the gate.”