updated 09:05 am EDT, Mon July 4, 2011
Zune HD Originals stopped as of July
Microsoft gave further clues that the Zune HD is phasing out with the departure of Zune Originals. A notice on the page now says custom orders for the Zune HD have stopped as of the evening of July 1. Any orders placed before 8PM Eastern that day will be honored, but those that slipped through after the cutoff may need to get in touch with Microsoft.
Anyone who wants to buy a Zune now has to opt for a retailer like Best Buy or Walmart. Best Buy may be highlighting its own problems since it's not shipping the player online.
The company has regularly been hesitant to say the Zune HD is on its way out but has given numerous signs that it's phasing out support of the MP3 player. Microsoft hasn't significantly updated the device since April 2010 and has been putting much more of its emphasis on Windows Phone and, to a lesser extent, the Xbox.
MP3 players as a whole have been on the decline, even for Apple's market-leading iPod, and have hurt Microsoft more than some. Although the Zune got off to what appeared to be a strong start, the platform has never had more than two percent of the total MP3 player field. Sales never expanded beyond North America.