Microsoft kills off its Zune hardware for good

4 Oct 2011

Microsoft has confirmed it will no longer be making its Zune media player devices, which were created originally to compete with the Apple iPod, and is urging users to move to the Windows Phone.

Ultimately, along with the expected demise of the Apple iPod Shuffle and Classic, it signals the death of standalone media player devices.

The software giant has said that going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus for its mobile music and video strategy.

“So what does this mean for our current Zune users?” the company just wrote on the Zune support pages. “Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today.

“And we will continue to honour 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.”

So in effect the Zune experience for buying and managing music and other media that transcends its Windows and its Xbox 360 platforms will remain in play and will clearly be a key app on Windows Phone devices.

Anybody who has been watching the MP3/media player space will realise that standalone media player devices in general have a limited future.

All smartphones today are, in effect, digital media players. This quandary can be seen clearly at Apple, where sales of iPod devices have been in freefall while devices like the iPhone and iPad feature the iPod as an app.

Apple sold 20.3m iPhone devices during the third quarter, representing a 142pc increase on a year ago and 9.2m iPads during the quarter, up 183pc over a year ago. However, iPod sales declined 20pc from a year ago to 7.5m devices sold.

In recent weeks, there has been speculation that Apple may scrap the iPod Shuffle and iPod Classic product lines and this may yet be one of the announcements made today when the company unveils its next generation of iPhone models.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years