According to Microsoft, the Zune platform isn't dead; instead, it's just finding a new hardware home inside a phone. Meanwhile, everyone outside of Redmond and the pathetic few Zune fanboys, know that Zune is dead. Who did this? Apple, perhaps Windows' biggest and most popular independent software developer.
Beating down a death-knell story on Bloomberg with a post on the Anything But iPod site, Microsoft Senior Business Manager for Zune Dave McLauchlan said that while there was no announcement of a new piece of Zune-branded hardware, the group was "thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms."
Here’s what you should know – ALL consumer electronics products have a lifespan, and the Zune HD is 18mo old. We were completely frank about this year’s Zune hardware being the WP7 phones, and we continue to both sell and fully support the Zune HD line of products. And as I’ve promised – we continue to bring new apps and games to the platform. More of those are in the works, I promise you.
Speaking as a father, it's important never to make promises that can't be kept. And McLauchlan is on safe ground here: "apps and games" are not the problem.
Over at the Zune Thoughts fanboy site, editor Steve McPherson, said "Zune is alive and well." In the comments to his story, the author and reader were evidently hoping for more Zune and less Windows phone.
Steve McPherson: Hopefully over the next few months Microsoft will become more clear how the Zune hardware platform will evolve, but I'm glad to hear that I shouldn't be laying my lovely silver Zune to rest any time soon.
Jim Fallons: How dumb is that. How about a mini zune, and a waterproof zune? Man I hope something comes along in the hardware department. And I still don't know ANY kids that even know what Zune is.
The last piece of Zune hardware was released in Sept. 2009, which is how long in mobile device years? 25?
As I've posted, the best news that the Zune ever received was that a shipment was stolen — a sure sign of consumer acceptance. Unfortunately, this theft report was from three years ago!
Meanwhile, in the world of successful mobile players, Apple in its January financial analyst call ran down the numbers for iPod. CFO Peter Oppenheimer gave Microsoft the bad news:
Moving to our music products. We sold 19.4 million iPods compared to 21 million in the year-ago quarter. We experienced continued strong sales of iPod touch, which grew 27 percent year-over-year and accounted for over 50 percent of all iPods sold during the quarter. iPod's share of the U.S. market for MP3 players remains at over 70 percent based on the latest monthly data published by NPD, and iPod continues to be the top-selling MP3 player in most countries we track based on the latest data published by GfK. We ended the quarter within our target range of four to six weeks of iPod channel inventory.
The iTunes Store generated another strong quarter with revenue exceeding $1.1 billion, thanks to strong sales of music, video and apps. We were extremely pleased to bring the legendary music of the Beatles to iTunes during the quarter and to introduce movies to the iTunes Store in Japan. And as we announced a few weeks ago, iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day.
But there's a bit of denial in this no-mo-Zune story. It wasn't Mac users that killed the Zune. After all, who buys iPods? Windows users. iPads? Windows users. And iPhones? Same deal, Windows users.
Of course, many if not almost all Mac users have also purchased iOS devices! But most iOS users in the world must be Windows users. Yet this self-evident fact often comes as a surprise to some longtime Mac fans as well as to longtime Apple haters.
Yes, the very first iPod was Mac only. But was long, long ago. It was Windows users who killed the Zune.
I would also point to Apple's wholly-owned subsidiary FileMaker, which makes award-winning, easy-to-use database products that work on both Windows and Macs. Most of its customers are Windows users.
My guess is that Apple is now the world's largest third-party Windows developer, more important to users than Adobe.
So, when will we see Bertrand Serlet, Apple's software engineering honcho, up on the stage with Steve Ballmer? Or Scott Forstall, Apple's iOS software guru? I mean they are Microsoft ISVs, right?