Bloomberg is reporting what no one is surprised to hear: Microsoft is going to abandon development on its Zune music player and focus on its smartphone platform instead.
While the 2009 Zune HD model has been well regarded, the consumer market essentially went, "Oh, hey, that's cool, but must. Buy. iPod. My precciiiioooouuuus." Apple easily nabbed 77 percent of the digital music player market last year, and it was becoming obvious Microsoft was fighting a losing battle.
Too bad, Microsoft. You should have come out with an iconic advertising campaign featuring hipsters dancing with black earbuds.
The Zune device may be dead, but its ones and zeros will live on. According to Bloomberg's source, Zune will become a software and services platform, since Windows Phone 7 embeds the Zune player for media playback on the phone, uses the Zune Marketplace for online music sales, and the Zune PC software for media syncing and firmware updates.
It's a smart move for Microsoft to cut their losses, since most companies are no longer investing in standalone MP3 players. The current hot gadget market is phones, with tablets on the horizon—and given Apple's market dominance, unless you can make a dirt-cheap music player, there's really no point.
One bit of silver lining for Zune fans (all five of you): the rumor is that while Microsoft won't add any further effort into the Zune player, existing models will continue to be sold. I'm guessing we'll see some steep discounts just to get these off the shelves. So, if you're interested in picking up one of Microsoft's soon-to-be-buried players, keep your eye on what the retailers are doing.
Are you surprised to hear about Zune being discontinued?
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