The Zune is dead; long live the Windows Phone.
That's a paraphrase of a statement from Microsoft, who quietly discontinued the Zune line by removing all mentions of the Zune hardware from its website. The death of the Zune had been rumored before, in March 2011, and now it seems it will join the Sony MiniDisc Walkman in portable music player heaven.
Here is Microsoft's press release/eulogy, taken from the Zune Support website:
We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices. Customer service has been, and will remain a top priority for us.
Those "Zune Services" include the Zune Software suite, which is a media manager for the Zune and Windows Phone; the Zune Marketplace, where Zunies can purchase their music and movies; and the Zune Music Pass, a $10-per-month all-you-can-eat music streaming option similar to premium services from Spotify and Rhapsody. The Zune software is integrated into Microsoft's Window Phones (which are just now receiving the much-hyped and potentially platform-saving Mango operating system) and will continue to operate as it did before, only without new physical Zune mp3 players on the shelves.
First released in November 2006 as a 30GB mp3 player for $250, the Zune was supposed to be Microsoft's answer to the ragingly popular iPod; two months later, Steve Jobs and Apple would announce the iPhone, signaling the shift away from MP3 players and toward all-in-one smartphones with music-playing capability. Microsoft will now apparently focus on its Windows Phones, which it hopes can step up and compete with Android smartphones and iPhones more than it has.
The Zune never sold very well, and perhaps the most notable moment of its life was a bizarre glitch that caused almost all Zune players around the world to freeze simultaneously on December 31, 2008; Microsoft immediately issued a fix that involved draining the battery and then recharging after 12 PM Greenwich Mean Time on January 1.
Play the Zune off, Keyboard Cat:
For more Microsoft fails, take a look at the list of the company's biggest flopped gadgets (below).