Microsoft Ends Zune Hardware Production
Microsoft indicated this month that it will no longer make standalone Zune hardware devices.
The plans to stop making Zune music player hardware first aired back in March, but they were attributed to an unnamed source in a Bloomberg story. At that time, Dave McLauchlan, a Microsoft program manager, reacted to the Bloomberg story by saying that Microsoft had not revealed any such plans. He claimed that Zune software running on Windows Phone 7 devices was the 2011 release of the Zune device.
Apparently, Microsoft's plans were in flux -- even as late as last week, when a product page disappeared from Microsoft's Web site. It was later described as a mistake. Now, it appears there is no doubt: Zune hardware production has been killed by Microsoft.
"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," states Microsoft's Zune player support page. The page notes that Microsoft continues to observe Zune hardware warranties.
If that weren't clear enough, Microsoft's press support service provided the following response when asked if Zune hardware production was discontinued.
"We are no longer producing Zune devices. Going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy. You can find more information at http://www.zune.net/en-us/support/zuneplayers/supportzuneplayers.htm."
Zune hardware apparently can still be purchased from some retail outlets. However, the form factor that once attempted to challenge Apple's iPod will eventually disappear.
Zune software lives on, and can be installed on Windows Phone 7 devices and PCs, and can be used on Xbox consoles. Zune software is also a prerequisite installation to continue to get updates on Windows Phone 7 devices, such as the recently issued "Mango" Windows Phone 7.5 update.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.