I’ve been stating for a while now that the Zune brand is disappearing. And it is. This is something that’s been happening, slowly, for about a year so far. My guess—and this part is a guess—is that the end game will occur in Windows 8. That is, by the time that OS ships, the Zune brand (and associated materials, like the logo) will simply be gone for good.
Mary Jo Foley stoked the flames by publishing a post in which she rhetorically asked whether Microsoft was killing Zune. This caused Microsoft to issue a denial that wasn’t really a denial. According to Microsoft:
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.
Right. No one ever said the software or services were disappearing. What I’ve been saying is that the Zune brand is disappearing. The stuff that is currently part of Zune, in the public’s eye at least—the Zune PC software, the Windows Phone player and management software, the Zune Marketplace, and Zune Pass—will all continue going forward. But these things will no longer bear the Zune brand. They will instead become part of Microsoft’s broader efforts around other products and brands. Most likely Windows Live? (That’s a guess.) This effort has been ongoing at Microsoft for some time. And whoever wrote that quoted text above (I saw this on Facebook’s Zune page) has known about this longer than I have. Process that one for a second.
And if you re-read that Microsoft “denial” what you’ll see is that they do not deny what I’m really saying at all. That statement very conspicuously and decidedly ignores that issue. Because the Zune brand is disappearing.
Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote. I don’t have any specific information about that at all, but one has to think that effort is dead too. Unlike my comments about the Zune brand recently, however, that’s just a guess.
For the record, I like the Zune brand. I like the logo. I think Microsoft should keep it all. And I think integrating it into Windows (as with Windows Phone) and killing off the Windows Media crap for good makes plenty of sense. I think making a Zune device that is essentially Windows Phone minus the phone functionality (aka Microsoft’s iPod touch) makes lots of sense too. Microsoft and the Windows team very clearly have different ideas around branding and Zune productization than I do, however. So I mourn. But when it comes to the Zune brand, I also speak the truth.
Let’s move on now, shall we?