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Microsoft kills off Zune players despite earlier promises

updated 10:30 pm EDT, Mon October 3, 2011

Zune HD support page, podcast end lineup

Microsoft in spite of its earlier claims has said it will drop Zune players. A support page has made clear the company will "no longer be producing Zune players." It will keep honoring support and sales, but hasn't made mention of future OS updates.

The company quietly discontinued the Zune Insider podcast on Friday after hosts Jessica Zahn and Matt Akers said they had to move on to other projects. Zahn is working on social services involving Live.

Its end comes after two years without significant hardware updates and signs that the Zune line was coming to an end. It recently stopped selling Zune Originals and began porting Zune HD apps to Windows Phone.

While the core music component will live in Windows Phone, the Xbox 360, and the desktop, it marks an end to Microsoft's hopes of competing with the iPod almost exactly five years after entering the field in fall 2006. Microsoft had hoped to use its size and unique features to outmuscle Apple. While it had advantages such as FM radio, "squirting" songs, and later Wi-Fi syncing and the Zune Pass, they weren't considered big enough to sway users from the iPod line.

Zunes may have inadvertently helped Apple in the process. By entering with the Zune device and Marketplace, Microsoft started competing with partners that were using PlaysForSure on their music stores, such as Walmart. The Zune never got more than two percent share in the US, but it was enough to lead to the closure of some stores and mostly cannibalized device share from Microsoft's allies.

Apple's success has been credited both to stronger momentum as well as to a much more aggressive update schedule. Microsoft started slowing down as soon as 2008, when it put out a conservative update to the "clickpad" Zunes. Apple has always updated iPods at least once a year and, with the iPod nano, has had a significant redesign every year. The company was quicker to touchscreen players and had both cheaper as well as higher-end models.

by MacNN Staff



  1. chas_m



    RIP (get it?)

    And thus ends a long and painfully costly lesson for Microsoft: don't compete with Apple when your heart isn't in it, because theirs is.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why compete

    I really don't think the Zune hardware is ending just due to Apple. A good portion of the reason comes from the trend towards using smartphones as music players. This can be seen with Apple as well...which may cause the end of the iPod Classic as well.

    But...Microsoft's biggest mistake was trying to compete with Apple. Just like when others tried to compete with the Sony Walkman a couple of decades ago. It was a bad idea. Instead, MS should have just carved out a small percentage of the market. Instead they constantly tried to best Apple, which was a fool's errand.

    The sad part of this is with the end of the Zune HD (and potentially the iPod Classic) two of the best pure music players will disappear and not leave much to replace them. The future of the iPod Touch seems dim over the next couple of years due to very few updates. I see it going the same way as the Zune HD.

    My question is does everyone REALLY want to use their phones a music players? I know using my phone as a music and video player tears through my battery very quickly...and then I have very little battery life for apps, text and phone usage. :(

  1. Herod

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We win.

    We are the champions my friends!!!!

  1. azrich

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Didn't they do a funeral?

    For the iPod?

    Time to look that up on uTube.

    My answer to your question lamewing- I used to use an iPod for music, until I bought an iPhone. Now I just carry the iPhone and use it. I would not have though that would happen, but here I am. Sorry, but yes :) I use the iPhone for music. Also in the car. When I use it as a phone, well, I don't need the music playing too so that's not a big deal for me.

  1. modernmagic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    It was so pathetically obvious the the zune was going to fail. Anyone who disagrees is in the minority.

  1. Stoli89

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Smartphopne phone is my music player

    I haven't used my iPod Classic in awhile, even with the Bose station in my office, because most of my music, podcasts & video reside on my N8. This smartphone also has a Play to Radio (FM Transmitter) feature that makes it very convenient to pipe music clearly over my car stereo/car speakers. Yes, this does eat up my phone battery, but I charge it once daily, so I don't care. MS's exiting the ZUNE hardware business makes sense to me, given trends in the smartphone arena.

  1. JEB

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bounce, bounce.

    "Microsoft in spite of its earlier claims has said it will drop Zune players."

    Can you still purchase cases for these, or should we all just drop ours and put them out of their misery?

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Microsoft only cares about two things

    Windows and Office. The rest is either frosting on the enterprise software licensing cake or defensive positioning in the consumer space. Windows XP? Response to Mac OS X. XBox? Response to PlayStation. Zune? Response to iPod. Bing? Response to Google search. KIN and Windows Phone 7? Response to iPhone. Windows 8 with Metro? Response to iPad. Etc. etc. etc.

    Nothing Microsoft has done since 2001 has been an attack. In 2001, Microsoft put the NT kernel technology into Windows XP. Everything after that has just been a knee-jerk defensive reaction to some other company's successful product. Microsoft isn't playing to win any more. They're playing to not lose. And that means that they will lose. Times change.

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Squirting Songs

    Worst name ever.

  1. daqman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Doesn't inspire trust

    The fact that the Zune hardware disappeared yesterday and Microsoft claimed that was a web site mistake then it is killed off for sure today doesn't inspire trust. Either Microsoft knew that they had pulled the web pages a day early and deliberately lied or one part of the company doesn't have a clue what the other is doing. Neither scenario bodes well.

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