Years ago Microsoft was all geared up to unleash its “iPod killer” Zune media players…only to find that the only thing able to put a dent in Apple’s iPod juggernaut was Apple itself, with it’s iPhone and other iOS devices. Now, Redmond’s attention has decidedly shifted to its new Windows Phone 7 mobile platform and high-profile partnership with Nokia, leading many to speculate about the fate of Microsoft’s Zune brand. According to the Zune Insider podcast, Zune is live and well.
“I guess the meta-point here, bubble-up one level, whatever analogy you want to use: Zune is not dead.” said Microsoft’s Matt Akers. “We still have jobs, right? I still like, get my paycheck.”
Aside from emphasizing Zune is still alive within Microsoft—and “will never die!” according to Akers—there’s precious little information coming out of Redmond about what, exactly, the future of the Zune brand might be. Microsoft released its most-recent Zune hardware back in 2009 (see Digital Trends’ review of the Zune HD) and MIcrosoft has not announced (or even hinted at) any new Zune hardware devices. Instead, all of the action has been on getting Zune functionality up and running on Windows Phone, enabling users to tap into movies, TV shows, and music (both pay-to-own and streaming via Zune Pass) using Windows Phone devices.
However, Microsoft did offer one nugget of Zune hardware news: the Zune HD is now available in Canada, although there’s no Canadian version of the Zune Marketplace, so customers will have to make due with sideloading their own media onto the devices. But the Zune HD is still unique among PMPs for offering an HD radio.