About Zune. Yes, Microsoft is killing it

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.

Sorry.

Let’s move on now, shall we?

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98 Responses to About Zune. Yes, Microsoft is killing it

  1. roberthleeii says:

    i liked the idea of it being rebranded as part of xbox entertainment. i think Mary Jo Foley mentioned something like that being a possibility. i think that way it will have somekind of brand recognition. i hate trying to explain what zune is to people

  2. striderauz says:

    They are just remaining consistent on their marketing strategy and plan – of flying so far under the radar that their own business forgets they exist when they put together the MS-Nokia Ecosystem/services images! ;)

    Seriously though – I just wished that Australia had of had formal Zune hardware and Zune Pass releases, I’m sure our market would have taken to the Zune service and helped build the brand.

    Now we just need the real deal for WP7!

  3. dmw4814 says:

    That’s really too bad; Microsoft’s Zune was always a far better personal music player/software solution than Apple’s iPod! I currently own an Apple 160GB iPod Classic, but that is only because I needed the 160GB storage capacity of the iPod Classic to hold all 1,000+ CD’s/11,000+ songs I have in my musical collection, and I really only use the iPod to listen to my music collection through my Kenwood car stereo in my vehicle. I did purchase, at one time, a 120GB Zune player, but I ended-up returning it simply because it lacked any type of loudness or EQ functions to add a little bass to the music. Other than that, the screen & the user interface (much like Windows Phone 7 that I so love!) absolutely blew the iPod away it was like comparing Windows 7 & DOS!!

    R.I.P. Zune!! You will be missed!

    Dennis

    • blkballoon925 says:

      I agree. And I think they should continue and expand the Zune brand, as Windows Phone 7 was originally set to do. Microsoft rebrands services so often that consumers are confused and can’t identify Microsoft’s consumer services with anything because they all have an identity crisis.

      Think about how all those MSN services like Search were separated from the MSN brand to become Windows Live branded, then they were taken from Windows Live and carried over to Bing. I’ll give them credit, their intense marketing of Bing has been very successful considering how poorly Windows Live branded services were and still are doing, Live Essentials excluded. And I hope that they are smart enough to not rebrand Zune into Windows Live. Windows Live, while I personally like the brand, has performed so poorly with consumer awareness and consumer’s understand of what it is that they will be putting the final nail in the coffin for former Zune services if they go through with this. Integration of the Zune player and Windows Media Player is an excellent idea, but the integration should leave the Zune player (with its UI and branding) intact, and eliminating WMP.

      • vangrieg says:

        You guys keep ignoring one very basic problem with the Zune brand – this name choice is horrible in that you can’t sell something that sounds that way internationally.

        It’s great in that it’s a short word and in comparison to other MS “brands” it may be miles ahead, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a poor name choice.

  4. rbonini says:

    Definitely. Microsoft needs to take the Zune and bring it to Europe.

    In saying that, apples’ eco system of products and services that are exclusive to those products pretty much locks customers into Apple’s platform. So the question really should be does the Zune Brand and the hardware have the ooph to go places, to expand beyond its current market.

    Zune HD may be brilliant, but can it compete with the camera and Facetime enabled iPod Touch? Thats a tough question because it depends on who you get your answer from. The biggest and only user of Facetime in this house is my 13-year old brother to uses it to talk to his friends for hours (literally). Show him a Facetime-less Zune HD and he’ll laugh at you. So its quite possible that Microsoft is simply facing up to the objective realities of Apple’s dominance.

    On you point about getting rid of Media player – definately. I think the Zune software is where its at and WMP is old an clunky.

    The only way Microsoft have a prayer (both Zune Hardware and to a lesser extent, WP7) is if Apple published the FaceTime spec as they promised to do.

  5. vangrieg says:

    I also like the Zune logo, but the name is, frankly, unsellable if they want to go international. So it should go ASAP, before awareness grows to high levels and rebranding becomes too expensive.

    That being said, I’m somewhat scared of MS’s horrible naming habits, and would probably prefer the name “Zune” to something stupid like “Windows Phone 7 Music and Videos”, or some such nonsense. Another thing I wouldn’t like to see is burying the Zune team inside some vast division like Windows where they’d be quickly lost and neglected.

    One tiny hope I have (but don’t really expect to ever materialize, unfortunately) is that they plan to rename WP7 together with Zune, to make all E&D devices consistently and well named. XBox, XPhone, XMedia sounds like monkeyish blatant copying of a competitor’s naming scheme but something like that would make much more sense than what they have now. Either way, there’s just no worse possible name than “Windows Phone 7″. It has “Windows” in it and reminds about difficulties and dayjob, it’s named almost exactly like WM, it’s dificult to use, and you can’t even check Google Trends properly for it.

  6. markuslaff says:

    I really hope that they don’t kill the Zune hardware efforts. The Zune HD is beautiful hardware and few other manufactures make devices that as well designed. MS can actually build inspired hardware and they should put those skills to good use.

    Also, I hope their re-branding effort is as simple and concise as “Zune”. I have a strong feeling that we will end up with something like “Windows Live Media Player”. GAH!

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  8. bartwilleman says:

    Very interesting article to read Paul, and I think you might be 100 percent right. With regards to the media player; here in Europe there was a lot of fuss with the European Competion Commission when Windows 7 was shipped WITH Windows Media Player. Not having to deal with things like these, but shipping “Windows Live Player” with Windows Live Essentials, would make perfect sense. Then again, downloading “Windows Live Zune” as seperate software, might be possible too.

    Interesting times ahead for sure. Am very curious to news coming from the Windows Live developing community with regards to “Wave 5″. Maybe we get a clue from them?

  9. striderauz says:

    btw – I have a ZuneHD and a Samsung Focus. The ZuneHD is a true (and superior) PMP. Every single friend I showed it to in Aus reacted with a wow factor – especially when they understood the power of the US Zune Pass service (I had).

    I will never understand why they didn’t push the ZuneHD internationally – and manage to setup the platform content rights for Zune Pass outside the US.

    Maybe the WP7 evolution got to market sooner than originally intended, and resources shifted to here internally at MS, resulting in the Zune team just not being able to fulfil the originally intended product rollout/lifespan schedule….

    Either way – WP7 (and all the success I think it will get through 2011 and into 2012) will carry a debt for the little old ZuneHD, and the intuitive interface and positive UI that went on to birth the WP7 “wow” factor of today.

    :)

  10. rlintw says:

    I don’t blame Microsoft for it’s non-denial denial. Paul, you clearly said you believed the Zune BRAND was going away, not the services. Mary Jo also got around to that point, but of course the click-bait headline on her post was about Zune being Kinned, which of course it is not. The Kin brand, hardware, services, and everything was canned and that is NOT what is happening to Zune. And given that some folks in the tech press are, shall we say, less rigorous in their research, the story could easily spin out of control into the death of all things Zune. Given that Microsoft wants to continue to sell music and videos and subscriptions, I’m sure they want to quickly knock down the meme that ZD Net was carelessly framing.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I’m pretty sure I was clear on this.

      To recap: Zune brand is disappearing. Zune software and services are continuing but will be rebranded at some point. I know nothing about “next-gen Zune devices” but I do know that there is no Zune team to design or make them. So if such a thing does happen (i.e. a phone-less Windows Phone), it will come out of some other group at Microsoft. I hope it does. And for the millionth time, I like Zune. The hardware, the software, and the services. And the brand. I wish they’d keep. I’m not projecting here. I’m telling you what I know.

  11. eluse9 says:

    How does the Zune Pass keep going as the Zune hardware fades out? just for W7 phones and Xbox use? Can it be used with other brand players? I love my Zune Pass but I didn’t think the DRM based management would work on another player.

  12. Drew says:

    How can you say the Zune brand is disappearing? If anything it is expanding. The Zune Music and Video experience was just released to the XBOX this past Fall. Windows Phone 7 was also released this past fall with Zune integreation. Zune was also integrated with BING earlier last year. So, yes the Zune device is getting less attention, but the Zune Service has continued to be branded with other Microsoft properties. I do not see the pull back from the Zune brand in Microsoft’s public actions in the past year.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I can say that because I know people who work at Microsoft, Drew.

      • Drew says:

        There is a word for the response that you gave me. It’s nice that you know people at Microsoft. But, so what? In your article you did not substantiate your idea that the Zune brand is disappearing. Instead of you replying to me with the reasons I was wrong in the instances that I site or even site your own examples, you gave me the non-professional answer, “I know people.” I find your attitude on this subject really puzzling and lacking professionalism.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        We’re done here Drew. The Zune brand is disappearing. Sorry.

  13. misterbigwords says:

    That’s a shame. I liked “Zune”. It’s one word, it’s one syllable — Microsoft needs more of that.

    Michael Gillett at My Microsoft Life was trying out new names the other day (Windows Live Music, Windows Live Entertainment) and I was frankly terrified ’cause…I can totally imagine Microsoft doing that.

  14. bdegrande says:

    I think that the Zune was a good product, and I would have bought one if it had worked with my Mac as well as my HP. It wound up being too little too late. I’m scared that the same thing might happen with Windows Phone, which I think is the best user interface Microsoft has ever done, and would make a great tablet OS, while Microsoft seems to want to stick its head in the sand and use Windows 7 on tablets.

  15. Eternally Yours says:

    I will laugh when they release the next edition of the Zune HD and your wolf cries will be proven false. Again.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I’d give anything for that to happen and I will gleefully accept the egg on my face. However. I do unfortunately know what the company is currently planning. And let’s just say I’m not reaching for a towel.

  16. tinod says:

    If this is true it would be a hugh mistake. Instead of focusing on bringing all the essential features of Bing, Xbox and Zune to other markets, Microsoft will confuse customers with all the re-organization and re-branding.

    The Zune brand is good. It is a short and easy to remember name. The marketing and design was one of the best we ever saw from Redmond and it perfectly fits well with Microsofts other brands like Bing or Xbox. It doesn’t belong to Windows or Xbox, IMO

    KIN was an unneeded brand. Zune is not. I already can see the new product names like “Windows Live Music Pass for Windows Phone 8″ or something like that.

    I’m not happy with the post-J-Allard-Microsoft…

  17. glenvdb says:

    It strange that a brand that was only really heavily promoted in the US, was never given a chance for the outside world. Its kind of sad, because we need competition in the market, and obviously some people want a viable alternative to the ipod and Apple.
    Microsoft missed the ball on this one.
    Hopefully Windows 7 phone will not go the way of the Zune, but Microsoft has to get off there collective butts and get phones out to the hands of consumers. Some will argue that is not Microsoft’s job, but the job of the carriers, phone manufactures, etc.
    But at the end of the day, the consumers will only really see the Windows branding on the phone, not the hardware itself, and if I were Microsoft, I would make sure to “seed” the market with free phones for a while, drop them from planes if necessary, because at the end of the day, if more and more people have and love Windows phone, they will tell everybody about it and word of mouth will sell it at the end of the day, not some big advertising blitz.

  18. apocacrux says:

    I do hope that if they are planning on rebranding it then that also means they will support other countries outside the US. Canada was ignored almost completely when it came to zune software and devices.

    By the way, I would consider mention of Zune devices in reference to hardware, so I am not sure what else it could mean when you mention the ‘denial’ statement did not mention hardware.

  19. makewindowsphoneawesome.com says:

    I’m really pretty disappointed by this news actually. Less so because of the Zune brand (which I do think is strong) but more so because of the potential adoption of the Windows Live brand to replace it. I associate that brand with really sucky web apps (be that true or not, it was once) and more, its an awkward “old generation” technology name – it reminds me of Yahoo.com and Internet Explorer 6 and not something dazzling and new. It’s also not very catchy.
    One minor positive – this might move Microsoft to resolve the strange feature confusion in WP7: you can go into Zune and listen to music and view Videos but you can also go into Pictures to browse photos and view Videos.

  20. mrtimsmith says:

    I think they went backwards in this aspect. Should be Zune Phone instead of Windows Phone. But as long as the services still exist I’m not really going to complain. They NEED to get rid of Windows Media Player though and integrate whatever the Zune software will be into Windows. They need to have one media solution that is consistent across all platforms, XBOX, PC’s, phones, etc….

  21. Oh.. and I’m sure MS releasing Zune HD support on Mac OS is a clear indication of killing Zune.. ahem….

    http://www.winrumors.com/microsoft-introduces-itunes-sync-support-for-zune-hd-mac-owners/

  22. aharden says:

    Paul, the quote does mention “Zune devices”.

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  26. necromannn says:

    I also agree that Zune should replace Windows Media Player and be integrated on all next versions of Windows!

    It’s much better than iTunes and a good replacer for WMP. It integrates a stores and does everithing and more that WMP does.

    They should anlarge the support for Zune and make it internationally available, since here in Europe is a no go :(

    PS: The software is really really great with great UI.

  27. jvd897 says:

    “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.”

    I dunno. In that carefully-worded statement, they said (emphasis mine):

    Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices [...].

    Sounds to me like there are still Zune devices in the pipeline, or, at least, the current ones will continue to be supported.

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  29. bitinkering says:

    This makes me sad. Believe it or not, Zune does have name recognition. Windows Live Media, Movie, Music Marketplace or variations are just clumsy. That said, since there has been zero visible effort on moving Zune to platforms other than Xbox, it really is nothing more than a Windows ** product.

    I’ll likely pickup a Zune HD 64GB at some point. They’re just too good at what they do to just let them fall by the wayside. Well that, the problematic state of WP7 SD Card expansion and lack of WP7 models with more than 8GB of non SD storage.

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  34. Eric Kirk says:

    Paul,

    Did you see that Balmer announced today in a Switzerland press event that the Zune service will go worldwide this year? I know that doesn’t contradict your point here but I’ve seen many people stating that lack of worldwide availability a reason they could be killing the service in favor of something else.

  35. lsobrado says:

    the question is what will they name it then. going by the prior record, zune will be come

    windows live music services series 7

    and zune pass

    windows live subscription services for windows live music services series 7.

    oh boy microsoft. why kill a good name and replace it with the horrible “windows live” which nobody in the world can say what that is. try it. ask somebody “what’s windows live” and they’ll look at you like you’re wacko.

  36. Blakes7 says:

    The Zune service is great but the brand is not widely known. This is no big deal really so long as the service remains with the same feature set. My guess is that this is part of the Nokia deal and has to do with Ovi integration.

  37. thornxbl says:

    “Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote. ”

    wat?

    “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.”

    So what do they mean by Zune devices then, if not the Zune hardware?

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  41. amaze85 says:

    I’ll be really sad to see the Zune hardware go – its beautiful.

    I’ll be even more upset to see Zune become Microsoft (r) Windows ™ Live Entertainment (r). really doesn’t have the same ring to it as iTunes, eh?

    And even worse, I’m dreading when the attractive, professional, stylish looking Zune software (on the Phone, PC and Xbox) get the Windows Live/’Fisher-Price’ treatment and looks lame, generic and awful.

    I’ve got every finger I own crossed that someone decides against this before they kill a pretty cool brand.

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  43. glonq says:

    A rose by any other name…

    Regardless of what they call it, they need to sort out the Zune ecosystem. Step one, resolve that matrix of missing features for each country. This should either be a global product or a US product, not “half-assed for half the world”. Step two, either improve the Zune to become a “phoneless winphone” or just kill off the idea of competing with iPod. Step three, make it all suck a little less. Enterprises love late, infrequent updates, but consumers and enthusiasts really don’t. (Optional) step four, bring the WP7 OS to tablets. OMG, nobody wants a big stupid hot atom+win7 tablet with low battery life.

  44. bksinbarre says:

    You stated “Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote.” It did mention the Zune hardware, it says Zune devices.
    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.

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  46. Eric K. says:

    Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but what about the Zune devices mentioned in the sentence starting with Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as … ?

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  49. fearthed0nut says:

    It’s quite sad, actually. The Zune Pass, combined with the curated Channels, really offered me a great opportunity to experience new music, picked by real DJs. I was frequently told that I listened to “interesting music” and “always have something new, interesting and fresh” playing. It got people I knew interested in Zune, where they only knew it as the butt of Late Night comedy jokes.

    No more. The Channels have been dumbed down to “Top Hits in (genre)”. So, I no longer can use DJ’s experiences to hear more music. This was a market differentiator. And they lost it.

    I’m very sorry to see Zune go. I wish they would have pushed it more towards others. I wish they would have had a quick and appropriate response when challenged by competitors. I wish they would have stood up for their brand, instead of letting it be heckled endlessly. It takes some strong people to go against the grain, when your friends are using iPods and now, it appears, they’re right.

    Most importantly, I hope Microsoft realizes the “goodwill” capital they’re losing when they’re doing this. Most of us took chances on the Zune platform. And while it technically won’t be “going away”, perception-wise, it -is- going away.

    For me, once they migrate away from the Zune platform, they’re finished, as far as I’m concerned. And for those who know me, this is saying quite a bit. Not quite sure what I’ll use, but I’ll be open to suggestions.

  50. dairym says:

    NO, we shouldn’t move on! We cannot take this lying down. If Microsoft kills the Zune brand and moves it to vanilla Windows Live, say goodbye to innovation and community feedback. Please be vocal about your disagreement with this rebranding; we have been successful before in convincing Microsoft against undesirable branding (remember Sync -> Mesh?), we shall be again!

  51. squeakstar says:

    As a newcomer to zune since i got my win phone 7 device, i love the design of the software, including that which runs on ones PC. I find as a service though it somewhat lacking; i have no friends who i can social network with as no-one else i know has a zune player of sorts, the album database for tagging is a somewhat lacking for those more obscure titles and i just feel because of this its not even worth me looking into with regards a subscription if it isn’t able to deliver the catalogue of music i’m interested in.

    What I would love to see with zune though is that microsoft mould it into an app that is comparable to how they boasted about so being into social networking whereby they don’t really have a presence akin to facebook or twitter, but do provides apps like messanger and windows live that integrate with these sites becoming a binding glue for all these services to the end user. I think this concept applied within zune to the plethora of music services out there, pulling all the end users subscriptions and services together in under one application would be a down right winner, and builds on the popularity of established sites instead of microsoft being a forgotten “also ran”.

  52. roteague says:

    Like you, I’m saddened. It seems that Microsoft’s strategy seems to be “lets throw something out and see what sticks.” But no, instead of working on a product, and making continual improvements, if it isn’t a smashing success right away … they ignore it, then have to toss it.

    I like Windows, but I don’t need to have everything I own branded “Windows”. There is nothing wrong with the Zune name or brand that can’t be enhanced by some form of advertising and product development.

    Microsoft just can’t get it’s act together in the consumer arena. I’m fed up … I won’t buy/use/own any Apple product, but Microsoft won’t give me the alternative I want.

  53. shotinfilm says:

    I’m sorry, but all I ever seem to see Microsoft do is kill off brands. I have a hard time getting behind ANYTHING they do (unless it’s been around a few years), as my first thought always seems to be: “How long before they give up on it?”

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  56. Paul, you mention in the article that “there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote”.

    In fact, the quote mentions Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs and Windows Phone 7, and seperately mentions “Zune devices”. Given that the console, desktop/notebook and WP7 categories are itemised here, and that “Zune devices” are listed as different to those, what is a “Zune device” if not a Zune hardware product, like the Zune HD?

    I also disagree with your interpretation of the quote overall. I don’t disagree that the quote does not directly answer the question of the future of Zune branding, nor does it explicitly say that these services will continue to be offered under the Zune brand. But it does say that it is “committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune” – I find it very odd that they would specifically mention that these services would be offered on the devices listed “from Zune” if they were committed to dropping Zune branding. Indeed, if there is a plan to kill off Zune, it makes little sense that they would choose to include those two little words there, as the rest of the quote makes it clear that the services themselves are not under threat.

    I acknowledge that there remains some ambiguity here – and I certainly agree with broad consensus over the very notable absence of Zune references in the Nokia announcement cycle – but my comments here are over the interpretation of the quote itself, and given the specific inclusion of “from Zune” in the quote, and the mention of Zune devices, I’d say the quote offers more points in favour of Zune continuing to exist as a brand than against it.

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  59. westendjungs says:

    [...] Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote [...] ??
    I think they mentioned the Zune hardware :
    [...] Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, [!!] Zune devices and Windows Phone 7 [...]

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  61. unndunn says:

    My question is why would they kill it now? The Zune brand is finally gaining positive mindshare thanks to its use on Xbox and Windows Phone. It has a rabid following; those who own Zune devices and services almost universally love them. And Microsoft has poured a lot of time and money into it. I know Zune is still firmly a niche brand, but then so is the Mac. Instead of killing the Zune brand, they should be positioning it to finally make a run at mainstream status.

  62. As long as I can use my Zune and download podcast and music to it I don’t care what they call it.
    I use a Zune largely because iTunes is crap software on the PC, and its not Apple. That and the fact that it’s seamless and convenient for podcast. If Microsoft kicks me to the curb, well what else is new. They don’t need me, but frankly I really don’t need them either. They love to screw their most loyal customers, eventually it might catch up with them.

  63. drvogel says:

    Paul, you said:

    “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.”

    I’m certain you meant Apple’s iPod touch. Or are you breaking some news here? ;-)

  64. adamucf says:

    I agree with you 100%, Paul. Hopefully what you’ve heard is wrong and they are going all-in using Zune as the branding for their media service and applications. It’s a unique name and finally seems to be taking some sort of hold despite Microsoft’s long-term efforts to keep it all a secret. Seriously, other than a few ads for the players a few years ago, have they ever done anything? Has there ever been a Zune HD ad? Has there ever been an ad for the subscription service? There’s a lot of good stuff here and people deserve to know about it. The brand isn’t the problem. The (lack of) marketing is.

    But to your point, they renamed the Zune hub in WP7 the “Music + Videos” hub. Still has the Zune logo on the tile but definitely not as prominant. They should’ve left it Zune IMO. Microsoft’s developers and engineers aren’t the problem. It’s the leadership and marketing that sucks.

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  67. ptrkjnssn says:

    I haven’t really tried Zune (the software that is, since you can’t even buy a Zune Player in Sweden) besides syncing with my phone, mostly because I already use Media Center and don’t want to switch between the two. Since I live in Sweden, I can’t get a Zune pass either so most of the features doesn’t work for me but some of the features, like Smart DJ and the nice background animations really appeal to me. What I can’t understand is why the functions in Zune haven’t been incorporated in Windows Media Player (or replaced WMP entirely) but most important, why aren’t they available in Media Center? Now I use Media Center for, well all media, but have to install Zune to sync with my phone and since Media Player is installed by default, that gives me three different players and none of them are complete.

    Media Center is prefered if I want to use my remote and TV, Zune if I want to access Zune Marketplace or download pod casts and Media Player if I want to use functions like play to or stream my music over the internet (provided that I don’t use Home Server).

    It seems as if Microsoft can’t make a decision on how the handle their approach on home users, providing a united concept that works all the way.

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  69. frontieruk says:

    Note, too, that there is no mention of the Zune hardware products in that quote.

    Zune on platforms such as Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7

    as there aren’t any other Zune devices apart from the hardware MP3 players and the WP7 devices mentioned separately I’d say they covered Zune hardware there…

    Not that I’m disagreeing with a re-branding, Zune hardware has been disappearing but I put that down to the fact it’s becoming a service for devices not made by MS, but I don’t see the brand dying unless the fact it failed in the only market where dedicated hardware for it was officially released in counts…

    How many people use the Zune video market or the Zune music streaming service on XBL? That’s quite a large segment of the live users, now what if wmp just got replaced by Zune? Or they add Zune features to Windows Media Centre brand recognition would improve.

  70. robbcab says:

    Paul,

    I see what you’re saying about how the denial sounds vague, but is clearly states “…Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7…

    So there is mention of Zune devices.

    Also, the MIX11 website introduces Joe Belifore as such “For the second year in a row, Joe Belfiore, who oversees Windows Phone Program Management, and is responsible for the design and software product definition of forthcoming generations of Windows phones and Zune devices wil keynote MIX again.

    So, maybe, to quote Monty Python, “Not dead yet!”

  71. tonyman262 says:

    Killing Zune would not only be premature but if true only shows Microsoft’s lack of creativity and lack of resolve to succeed in this market. First of all, the Zune hardware, software, and services are great and compare favorably against the competition. Any problem the Zune had gaining market share was because the competition had such a tremendous head start. The iPod was appeared to be ubiquitous, which drove other vendors to hop on the band wagon.

    This is a page right out of Windows 95. It has been documented that people bought Windows 95 that didn’t even have a computer YET. Because of Apple’s head start Microsoft could have done what they have done in the past and that is to mobilize a cadre of partners and developers.

    How hard would it be to partner with one or two car stereo manufacturers? Pick any vendor that does not also have a MP3 player; Kenwood, JVC, or Alpine come to mine.
    Have the DVD/CD/Radio be Zune compatible. This player could be plug compatible, play Zune playlist, be Blue-tooth pair able, and maybe voice operated. Microsoft already has the voice technology.

    Wash, rinse, & repeat. Ditto for a couple of home stereo manufacturers. Denon comes to mind, or add Yamaha and Pioneer. The only two things to add for the home theater market is a dock to the receiver so the Zune is visible on the home network and the receiver & its remote should operate the Zune in all of its functionality.

    GM and Chrysler could have in the past and still could use Zune options if they thought Microsoft was going to be serious. Microsoft could announce that they and GM (for instance) were standardizing on automobile connectors for data and power for mobile devices. Once something like that is announced, now other vendors have something to design to.

    The advertisement that we never saw was a nice looking guy unplugging his Zune from his home or office computer, hopping into his car and connecting his Zune (wired or Blue-Tooth) to the car stereo system and arriving at a party. He then tells his best friend that he has the latest song and drops the Zune into his friends home theater dock and we hear the latest sounds. Of course the commercial ends with the cutest chick in the party wanting to share the song which our hero wirelessly syncs to her Zune.
    The Zune should have appeared to be ubiquitous or at least the ability to be.

    It is not too late. All we need is for Microsoft to be a serious player and not allow the Zune to be an island in this connected world.

    Microsoft, why won’t you give Cinderella a chance to go to the Ball? I just hope you don’t do my WP7 phone that way. By-the-way, when exactly is the WP7 update coming?

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  73. sirtwist says:

    Paul,

    They do specifically mention Zune hardware — “Zune devices and Windows Phone 7.” I’m not sure how else to interpret “Zune devices” other than as a reference to Zune players. Or am I misinterpreting that somehow?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Microsoft isn’t talking about devices for a reason. I guess I’d just say, if there is going to be some future “Zune” hardware–i.e. a replacement for the Zune HD–it won’t be coming from the Zune “group” since they pretty much don’t exist anymore. My guess–and it’s just a guess–is that if they do make such a thing, it will be branded as an Xbox device of some kind.

      • sirtwist says:

        I imagine you’re probably correct. It would make sense for them to release an Xbox branded phone-less Windows Phone device (Xbox Go? Xbox Portable?). I’m just trying to imagine what they’re going to rebrand all the services to. It doesn’t make sense for them to rebrand it with a “new” brand, because if they were going to do that they could just leave it as Zune. As many have said, Zune doesn’t have much traction yet because they really haven’t promoted it, so there wouldn’t be any advantage in them switching to a completely new brand. That means that they’ll likely co-opt one of their existing brands (Windows, Windows Live, Xbox) for it, which … just isn’t very exciting. :)

        What they SHOULD be doing is keeping the Zune brand and then marketing the heck out of it and promoting its support in those devices and systems that have it. On the Xbox 360 packaging and such they should have the Zune brand prominently displayed (“Supports Zune Services”). That way when people who own an Xbox go to buy a new phone and they see that Windows Phone “Supports Zune Services” they understand that they can use the same services on both the phone and the Xbox. I suppose they should do that even if they change the brand. I’m just not sure what they gain by dropping the Zune name. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        I agree. They should just keep the Zune brand. I like it. I think it’s turned a corner, and I think it’s a positive thing. But this is not how Microsoft sees it, and, I guess, isn’t how much of the world sees it either.

  74. I listened to the Zune Insider Podcast this week just to see if they mentioned anything about the Zune brand being dropped. Listening to the two hosts talk about Zune, you can tell something is going down and that they know about it because they said over and over, “Zune is not dead” (present tense), but seemed to go out of their way to avoid any talk about Zune’s future. If I wasn’t convinced before the podcast, I am now that the Zune brand is going away…eventually.

  75. Mike Clark says:

    Zune, we hardly knew ye!

    I have a 16 gig Zune HD, and I love it. When I got it a few months ago I kind of realized that the brand was probably not long for this world, but the player is so much better in many respects than iPod. When it came time to get my wife her player, though, I had to go with an iPod because some of the Apps that she needed were only available in the Apple marketplace, and not Zune. I wish…

  76. im uninstalling Zune Software from my computer after i read about your post. I wasnt using it anyway.

  77. ejlee2006 says:

    There’s no point of rebranding of they will not advertise it!!!!!!!!!
    MSFT you suck again on this!!!!!

  78. norrathreaver says:

    As stated by the person above me, how would you explain MS putting the time & effort into making sure that the final build of the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac would officially support Zune HDs?

    How about the recent additions to the Zune Originals program for new customization options?

    What about the fact that they just officially have now expanded Zune HD sales to Canada?

    Also as noted earlier, in the quote they specifically state that services will continue to come ‘FROM Zune’ (emphasis mine) and specifically mention Zune devices.

    I’m sorry Paul, but to deny that they’ve made things clear is burying your head in the sand on this one.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way. But the Zune brand is being phased out. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. There is no “Zune” for stuff to be coming “from” now. In the future there won’t be a Zune brand at all.

      • norrathreaver says:

        It’s not a feeling. I pulled direct information from their statement.

        Why emphasize that the services will continue to come from Zune if it’s patently untrue?

        That would push it from denial to a flat-out lie.

        Also as I mentioned…why expand the regions you offer the hardware and offer updated customization options for something you’re axing?

        Another point is why would you kill a brand that is now #2 for video marketplace marketshare & is gaining almost all of that marketshare at the expense of Apple?

        These are things that just don’t add up Paul.

        If this is what they were wanting to do they would have started phasing out the branding with the release of Windows Phone 7 instead of touting it so openly & declaring that every WP7 device is now a Zune ;)

      • norrathreaver says:

        I wish I could edit my last post since I realized I wanted to say more.

        Sorry if it seems I’m coming off argumentative, as I’m not trying to be.

        I’m just wanting to know why you feel so confident of this when there are many indications that to do this would be a very unwise move that would merely cause confusion amongst users who are very used to the existing brands.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        I have friends and other sources at Microsoft.

  79. sugoidane says:

    This makes me furious, I can’t believe that it is starting to look like the brand is actually dieing. I was hoping for a, as you mentioned, iPod touch-like device from Microsoft or at least plans to release devices that have more capacity for storage. Not to mention they haven’t updated the ZUNE HD in MONTHS!

    I was praying, on my hands and knees, for information on a new ZUNE device for the past couple months. Your words do little to bring hope for the future of the brand…

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  82. Just to update Zune Originals is NO MORE! Zune has discontinued Zune Originals! So norrathreaver YOUR WRONG!!

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