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Rumor: Microsoft killing off Zune players for good

updated 05:00 pm EDT, Mon March 14, 2011

Microsoft said axing Zune players permanently

Microsoft will mark the end to a sidetrack in its history by phasing out its Zune hardware once and for all, according to a Bloomberg source said. Under the strategy, the company would keep selling the existing Zune HD but would phase it out entirely once considered obsolete. The Zune software would be left, as would the Zune Marketplace key to getting content for Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox 360.

A timeline wasn't given for the change. Microsoft also hasn't commented on the plans.

The Zune was launched in November 2006 as Microsoft's attempt to replicate the success of the iPod, which it had ignored until Apple virtually dominated the market. It represented a complete about-face in Microsoft strategy where it dropped hopes of forcing the licensing-based Windows model on to the MP3 player market and adopted a closed but much more seamless, Apple-like model with easy syncing and an intuitive interface. A handful of firsts came through the Zune, including automated Wi-Fi syncing and the concept of social networking.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had been confident that Microsoft would be at least second in the MP3 player market and even had a chance of beating them, although he admitted it was "not going to be easy" at the time. The claim was accurate for a time, but Microsoft never got significantly past two percent of the MP3 player market. A lack of truly standout features and, eventually, a sluggish upgrade pace eventually made it hard for the Zune to compete even against SanDisk or Sony; most initial gains were from companies that ironically used Windows Media Player for most syncing and were using PlaysForSure copy protection for music.

The portable platform isn't necessarily finished and may have new life in Windows Phone 7, where the media player app is Zune-branded and shares similarities with the Zune HD interface. Its success will hinge on whether or not Nokia and other partners can push WP7 into the mainstream years after Apple had already popularized smartphones with media playback through the iPhone.

By Electronista Staff


  1. pottymouth

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2003


    Rest in pieces, Zune.


  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    "Under the strategy, the company would [...] phase it out entirely once considered obsolete."

    Which it was about 4 years ago. Gentlemen, start your DeLoreans.

  1. Commodus

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Feb 2002


    RIP, sort of

    I used the Zune 4 and Zune 80 back in 2007. They were good players at the time! Problem is, Microsoft did what it normally does: if it doesn't immediately make big strides with a platform in a market, it starts giving that platform half-hearted support. Updates went from huge overhauls once a year to every other year to not at all.

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    This probably isn't the best place to ask,

    I apologize for going OT- Is there likely to be an Android device that would challenge the iPod?

    App developers would have greater audiences if there were iPod Touch rip-offs running the 'Droid, no?

    As for the Zune, I'm reminded of the Robot Chicken sketch..



  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001



    it's not a german pastry

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    good idea Ballmer

    they'll need to phase out the money-losing iPod-killer Zune so they can afford to lose money on an iPad-killer tablet.

  1. ricardogf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003



    Testudo, at least you can look at it from the bright side...your Zunes are now such rarities that will soon be worth good money on eBay!!! Congratulations!!!

    1 - Betamax

    2 - Sinclair QL

    3 - Zune

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008



    Just keep building them and give them away for free. It's not like MS will run out of money to build this POS.

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    considering the latest news

    one story 'newer' than this one, that iPod sales had a double-digit decline... Microsoft held out to the bitter end, stubbornly refusing to throw in the towel until it became obvious to everyone that MP3 players have gone through their lifecycle, from hot new market to mature to declining, niche market as newer devices include the functions of an MP3 player as just one of their features.

    And Apple reaped the vast majority of the profits and other benefits.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2008


    I wonder what this guy thinks now...

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