updated 11:35 am EDT, Wed September 2, 2009
Zune HD to be only Zune from now on
Microsoft late Tuesday revealed that it's discontinuing every non-touchscreen Zune in its lineup. While the company previously said the Zune HD was replacing the flash players, staff in the media player team have told journalist Paul Thurrott that the hard drive-based Zune 80 and Zune 120 have also ceased production and that sales of these and any remaining Zune will only continue until they run out of stock. It's not certain how long this will last.
The shift makes Microsoft one of the first if not only media device creators to scrap all of its non-touch players and appears part of an attempt to completely modernize the Zune feature set. Outside of minor firmware updates, the "clickpad" Zunes have remained the same since 2007 and are believed to have contributed to plumming sales figures as the absence of new features, along with a poor economy, drove customers to other players or else to hold off on purchases.
Software is also a concern for Microsoft as the touchscreen demands a different interface for certain tasks and will otherwise need significant changes in Microsoft's app platform, which should now support general third-party apps instead of just a handful of games.
Apple by comparison has been conservative to date, launching the iPod touch in 2007 but keeping all its existing iPod lines around in the 2008 refresh a year ago. Rumors have these returning this year but with cameras added.