Report claims that Zune is dead ... and I'm not surprised

Microsoft is pulling the plug on Zune hardware following what is described as "tepid sales," according to a report by Bloomberg.

Microsoft is pulling the plug on Zune hardware following what is described as "tepid sales," according to a report by Bloomberg.

According to an unnamed source talking to Bloomberg, Microsoft will instead concentrate on putting the Zune player onto Windows Phone handsets.

Microsoft will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones, such as those running its Windows operating system, said the person, who declined to be identified because the decision hasn't been announced. Zune software lets customers buy songs and movies, as well as pay a monthly fee to stream unlimited music.

I've reached out to Microsoft for comment.

If Zune is indeed dead, I'm not surprised. It was an odd device in many ways, born as a knee-jerk reaction to the dominance of the iPad, but by that I don't mean to say that it was a bad player, Just odd. The odd brown shell (which seemingly was the most popular) was an interesting color for Microsoft to choose (note that Apple never bought out a brown iPad ...). The odd sharing feature built into the player was an interesting idea but demanded that your friends have Zunes too in order to make use of the feature (in other words, it was utterly useless to most users). Then there was the odd marketing strategy that meant Microsoft doesn't sell the Zune outside of the US and Canada. I still can't fathom out why Microsoft never took the hardware global.

But the most significant aspect of this report, if correct, is that Microsoft is willing to back out of a significant market and hand more market share to Apple. It's one thing for Microsoft to lag (significantly) behind the Curpertino giant, but another for it to back out of the market altogether.

Well Zune, if you have been 'Kinned' then that's sad ... but I doubt that you'll be missed.

[UPDATE: This in from a Microsoft spokesperson:

"We're absolutely committed to providing the best movies, music, and TV show experiences through Zune on Xbox, the PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune devices. We'll share more information about the evolution of the Zune entertainment service and Zune hardware as future plans develop."

No confirmation, no denial.]

[POP QUIZ: Name one mass-market non-iPod portable music player ... go!]


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