March 16, 2011

Microsoft Discontinues Zune Hardware, Focuses on Software


Microsoft’s Zune media players were introduced with lot of fanfare in late 2006, but in 2011 they seem to be leaving the stage quietly. Having not made any impact on the digital music world, which is dominated by Apple’s iPods, the software giant is pulling the plug on the hardware side of the Zune line. Although, Microsoft has not made any such announcement, a report in Bloomberg has spread the news.

According to Bloomberg’s report on Monday, which is based on a person familiar with the decision, Microsoft will stop making newer models of Zune music and video players because of lukewarm demand for the product. Instead, it will focus on putting Zune software onto mobile phones that run on its Windows operating system.

When approached by a Bloomberg reporter, Microsoft declined to comment on plans for the Zune. However, in an emailed statement, the company said, “We have nothing to announce about another Zune device -- but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America. We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms,” added Microsoft in the email statement.

Market research firm NPD Group’s data shows that Apple’s iPod led the market with 77 percent of unit sales last year, while Zune even failed to be in top five. Hence, it is now concentrating on the Windows Phone software to boost the sales of its Windows based mobile phones.


Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf



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