Has Zune Finally Met Its Inevitable Demise?

With Microsoft's Zune conspicuously absent from the Redmond company's lovefest with Nokia last week, the Microsofties are abuzz that the company's answer to Apple's iPod may be on its way out. Paul Thurrott noted that the company talked about every Microsoft service practically but Zune at the Nokia press conference; Mary Jo Foley chimed in later with a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson which only seemed to raise even more questions.

"We're not ‘killing' any of the Zune services/features in any way. Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7, as well as integration with Bing and MSN."

The focus of that statement seems to be the platform, not necessarily the device -- and in the end, can we really blame Microsoft? After all, the device has failed to generate much buzz outside of Microsoft-centric computer users. While "the social" had good intentions, it was all but useless because without users to share with, what good is the signature feature of Zune?

I've said for quite a bit (and here, too) that its a waste of money for Microsoft to continue attempting to take on Apple's iPod ecosystem with a player of its own. That said, incorporating Zune's platform further into other successful offerings (Windows Live, Xbox, etc.) is a good thing. Maybe that's what the future holds for the brand.

Even Microsofties need to be honest with themselves: the writing has been on the wall on Zune for years. No amount of whizbang features, sky-high advertising budgets, or reorganizations are going to save the player itself. There is a home for Zune, but not in its current form.

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