Today, the news is finally rattling out that Microsoft is retiring Zune. As you may know, I have a certain affinity for the device. Being a long-time iPod fan by the Zune’s debut in 2006 (with a dead iPod, mind you), I vowed that as soon as Microsoft brought an MP3 player to market, I’d be on it. And I was. So what’s in the future for Zune?
With bigger, better screens, tougher hardware, and the subscription-based Zune Pass, it was always pretty easy to recommend a Zune player over similarly equipped iPods. And while those who owned the devices ended up loving them, several generations of the player simply couldn’t eat into the iPod’s market- or mindshare. Their latest devices, the Zune HDs, replaced their variety of hard drive and flash-based players in 2009 with a single, slender device with a touch screen and gorgeous AMOLED backing. Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against them: competing straight against the iPod Touch with roughly .01% of the apps available for that platform didn’t push Zune into many more hands and on top of that, sales in dedicated Portable Media Players were flatlining against connected devices like iPhones and Android-based smartphones.
So where does that place Zune? The brand that never took off will probably disappear in its entirety. After being skipped over entirely during the Microsoft-Nokia conference last month, rumors were already abound that Zune’s days were numbered, but Microsoft rebuffed the rumors. Today they to refute similar rumors that the brand will end, but the answer is slightly different now, on their Facebook page:
Hey ZuneNation – here’s what WE have to say: 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.
Thanks for being a part of this awesome community!
As many have speculated, and they’ve laid out here, Zune will continue as a service. There might not be any further Zune players, but there’ll be Windows Phones. The Zune Pass might not exist as a ‘Zune’ service, but there’ll still be a Zune Pass. For the fans of the world’s best MP3 player and music service, it sounds grim, but the future is changing and I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.
Also, where’s my Windows Phone?