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Microsoft abandons Zune media players in iPod defeat

post #1 of 145
Thread Starter 
Microsoft's direct effort to challenge Apple's iPod, introduced in 2006 under the Zune brand, is being abandoned after a failure to gain traction in the market.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Microsoft will stop making any new Zune models and shift its focus toward incorporating its music store and subscription software into mobile phones.

The report cited sources who "declined to be identified because the decision hasnt been announced," but noted that Microsoft's Zune-branded players failed to break into the top five US portable digital music players last year, according to data by NPD Group.

Apple's iPod continues to dominate the media player market, with a 77 percent share of the US market and similar market share globally.

In 2006, Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer said of Apple, "we can beat them, but its not going to be easy," and confirmed the company was going to remain in the market for the long haul, gradually building market share.

The Zune HD (below), introduced in the fall of 2009, expected to make a dent into Apple's iPod touch business by combining an OLED screen, NVIDIA Tegra processor, HD Radio, and a new gaming platform that was supposed to leverage Microsoft's Xbox 360. However, it completely failed to do so, for reasons detailed at the time by AppleInsider.



Zune phone?

The company has iterated the same long haul/slow growth strategy in smartphones, where it has dramatically lost market share since the appearance of Apple's iPhone in 2007. Microsoft now faces not just the entrenched competition from Apple's iPhone, but also a shift by many of its former Windows Mobile licensees to Google's free Android operating system.

One of the company's strongest partners, LG, described Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 7 product as being "a bit boring," but also said it views WP7 as having "strong potential," and that it does not want to be dependent upon just one vendor's OS.

LG also noted that carriers are concerned about Android taking too great of a share of the market too, explaining, "there is a need and demand from the operators saying there is too much Android in the portfolio. In that sense LG always tries to balance our portfolio, and thats not just in sense of hardware but OSes as well."

Microsoft recently partnered with Nokia to align the leading phone maker with its own plans for Windows Phone 7. However, Nokia and Microsoft compete in offering music and subscription media, with Nokia's Ovi media store and music subscriptions being a direct rival to Microsoft's efforts to shift its Zune software into the smartphone realm.
post #2 of 145
It was (and still is) lipstick on a pig. The hardware was actually pretty good but the software as usual had much to be desired.

No love lost here. At least WP7 shoes some glimmer of promise. Maybe Microsoft is finally realizing the stupidity of its ways? Nah...
post #3 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

It was (and still is) lipstick on a pig. The hardware was actually pretty good but the software as usual had much to be desired.

No love lost here. At least WP7 shoes some glimmer of promise. Maybe Microsoft is finally realizing the stupidity of its ways? Nah...

I liked Zune software much better than iTunes!!!! Please Apple, fix that "user experience"!!!!!
post #4 of 145
Is it my imagination or do Zune and Xoom sorta sound alike?
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post #5 of 145
Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

The dumbest obviously is Balmer being appointed CEO.

What do you think second dumbest is?
post #6 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

It was (and still is) lipstick on a pig. The hardware was actually pretty good but the software as usual had much to be desired.

No love lost here. At least WP7 shoes some glimmer of promise. Maybe Microsoft is finally realizing the stupidity of its ways? Nah...

Ballmer just issued a decree that all WP7 phones must be brown.

(Oops... I see I was beaten to the punch by PaulMJohnson)
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post #7 of 145
Lol, right after they started shipping to Canada. Trying to pawn off the last few units on us, eh?

Anyways, I do think its a shame, the Zune HD hardware was great for when it launched, after two generations they finally had it polished to a gem, but they never took off with the app side of things, and never refreshed the hardware.

If they somehow let it run WP7 apps, it would be just about the only competitor to the Touch (theres that Archos thing but I don't think it can use the android app store * officially*). A WP7 based PMP with Zune HD-like hardware but with better internals would be rather nice IMO.
post #8 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

The dumbest obviously is Balmer being appointed CEO.

What do you think second dumbest is?



You just said it...
post #9 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

Microsoft has been giving it to us in the brown for years.
post #10 of 145
Dang.

Perhaps I should run out and buy one just so that, some day, I can tell my grandchildren about this....

Nah. On second thoughts, forget about it: I can just take them to an old website.
post #11 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanx View Post

I liked Zune software much better than iTunes!!!! Please Apple, fix that "user experience"!!!!!

Then go buy a Zune. I'm sure there's few left for cheap.
post #12 of 145
That's cold. Zune couldn't compete anymore.
post #13 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

The dumbest obviously is Balmer being appointed CEO.

What do you think second dumbest is?

Microsoft "bob". Truly amazing.
post #14 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...The Zune HD (below), introduced in the fall of 2009, expected to make a dent into Apple's iPod touch business by combining an OLED screen, NVIDIA Tegra processor, HD Radio, and a new gaming platform that was supposed to leverage Microsoft's Xbox 360. However, it completely failed to do so, for reasons detailed at the time by AppleInsider.

ROFL!! Yes, there can be no doubt, it failed only because of the reasons AI wrote about.

From everything I read the Zune it actually was reasonably good hardware. They had a great music subscription system, Zune Pass. All the music in their library for $15 bucks per month, plus you get credits to buy 10 songs each month.

I think the Zune failed primarily because of Microsoft's horrible marketing and of course, Apple's market dominance (well deserved be that as it may).

-kpluck

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post #15 of 145
Quick, somebody dig up some stills from the Microsoft "funeral procession" and replace the giant iPhone with a Zune. Get to work, Photoshop mavens!
post #16 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by megatrick View Post

Microsoft has been giving it to us in the brown for years.

... and steaming!
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post #17 of 145
Steve Jobs said that there are talented and smart people at MS. It's just that they don't have any class and culture in their products. Zune is exhibit A.

Someone at MS who should have been fired decades ago has had the final say in naming their software and hardware products.

In hindsight, the name, color, lack of support and looking downright dowdy next to Apple's iPods should have clued MS execs in to its certain demise.

It did take longer than I expected. I'll give MS that. Must have been the fact that it could receive FM radio.
post #18 of 145
Another one bites the dust, or just plain bites.

Vista, Kin, Zune... And the only three people I know to acquire one of the latest crop of Windows phones all returned them within a week with various expressions of contempt and disgust.

Is it possible there are limits to what can be achieved by buying and ruining your competition? Who knew?
post #19 of 145
The AI article referenced that was written in 09 is pretty funny as well as being spot on.
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post #20 of 145
Nice to see the 'ipod killer' finally dead.
post #21 of 145
Wow. Next up: a Microsoft music/video cloud service

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post #22 of 145
"the company was going to remain in the market for the long haul"

Guess the long haul is over. Time now for the iPad killer - the Zune Tablet!
post #23 of 145
Face it Microsoft, you can't hang with Apple in the combined software+hardware ring. No one can yet - not even Google.
post #24 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

Face it Microsoft, you can't hang with Apple in the combined software+hardware ring. No one can yet - not even Google.

Like you said, yet. What goes up must come down. I'm not saying iTunes/iPod will fall the way of the dodo, but it can drop like IE against its competitors. It's just that no one has figured it out.
post #25 of 145
Anyone got any idea on how well the Zune platform is doing on Xbox?
post #26 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

The dumbest obviously is Balmer being appointed CEO.

What do you think second dumbest is?

To be fair, at least it wasn't Flower Power or Blue Dalmation... Although all of the above really belong in the trash...
post #27 of 145
The only Microsoft consumer brand with any credibility is the Xbox - I have no idea why they have wasted so much time and resources on Zune/Kin etc. instead of making a handheld Xbox.
post #28 of 145
The existence of the Zune pretty much slipped my mind over the past year. It is surprising though to hear that it didn't even make it into the "top five US portable digital music players last year" unless that list includes everything by Apple rather than lumping all Apple products together.
If the list is something like: 1) iPod Nano, 2) iPod Touch, 3) iPad, 4) iPod Shuffle, 5) iPod Classic... then yeah, it's understandable that another particular brand might not make it anywhere in the top five. But if it's: 1) Apple products, 2) Creative(?), 3) Whoever else... then that would be pretty stunning that Microsoft couldn't pull that off.
post #29 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

Anyways, I do think its a shame, the Zune HD hardware was great for when it launched, after two generations they finally had it polished to a gem, but they never took off with the app side of things, and never refreshed the hardware.

You would think that Microsoft would be the one to get the software end of things going the best. After all, they are supposed to be a software company. I think the proof is in the pudding - Microsoft basically relinquished its relevancy when Bill Gates stepped down and Ballmer took over. Ballmer has been nothing but a weight on Microsoft since he took over Bill's old day-to-day duties.
post #30 of 145
Therein lies a big part of Microsoft's problem. They were once great in their own right, but that wasn't enough.

Mistake 1:
They attempted to take on others in areas where they clearly were at a disadvantage.

Mistake 2:
Instead of realizing that they had bitten off more than they could chew, they just chewed harder. Meanwhile, everyone else happily progressed into the 21st century.

Mistake 3:
Too little too late - Realizing that they were falling behind everyone else, they've spent the last 5 years trying frantically to catch up with the competition that they were once so sure they could crush.

What Microsoft should do is QUIT trying to catch up with everyone else and start focusing on something new and different like they did 20 years ago. That's the only chance they have of ever being as good as they once were.

At least that's the opinion of a 25 year Microsoft developer
post #31 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

ROFL!! Yes, there can be no doubt, it failed only because of the reasons AI wrote about.

From everything I read the Zune it actually was reasonably good hardware. They had a great music subscription system, Zune Pass. All the music in their library for $15 bucks per month, plus you get credits to buy 10 songs each month.

I think the Zune failed primarily because of Microsoft's horrible marketing and of course, Apple's market dominance (well deserved be that as it may).

-kpluck

So you realise that the second reason your expert brain is capable of providing this forum is a tautology, right? MS failed to compete with apple because apple dominated the market? Ah, who's ROFLing now?

About the first, it's mere speculation founded in the void. You simply assert that what is required for products to win over is just marketing. You forget that people don't want to pay a monthly fee for music, they just want a music player, and a store of songs where they can buy their own with no strings attached.

But there's truth to your criticism over MS' marketing. It's not something they can do about it, though. MS is doomed from the start in the marketing area wrt the younger generation, which looks at microsoft as older people look to IBM: an overbloated "not-cool" mega corporation that only survives by parasiting the whole industry with its own intelectual property portfolio, filled with terrible wretched software. Young kids perceive MS like this, and they perceive Apple as "cool", "sexy" and "stylish".

It's a lost battle right from the start. Apple will dominate this decade.
post #32 of 145
Anyone else completely bored of sales figures and market share?

I mean, I used to come to this site because it offered nice info about upcoming Apple products. Now all it seems to do is offer sales figures for every tech device out there. Maybe time to rename to TechSalesFigures.com or something.
post #33 of 145
Absolute dumbest was appointing Ballmer in the first place. The only good product on his watch has been Kinect.
post #34 of 145
MS mite as well give up on the phone 7 thing too. In the face of Android nothing stands a chance. You guys need to concentrate on the Windows OS.
post #35 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Of all the dumbass things Microsoft have done over the years, I would vote releasing a Zune in brown as the second dumbest thing.

The dumbest obviously is Balmer being appointed CEO.

What do you think second dumbest is?

I give up. Microsoft Kin?
post #36 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by brentbordelon View Post

What Microsoft should do is QUIT trying to catch up with everyone else and start focusing on something new and different like they did 20 years ago. That's the only chance they have of ever being as good as they once were.

At least that's the opinion of a 25 year Microsoft developer

We have to recognize that the current windows phone 7 series is at least a seriously rethinking of what a smartphone should be.

And that Kinect is really good.

What I wonder is what Microsoft will do with Kinect. We have seen its potential in hundreds of amazing hacks all over the internetz. We have even seen videos of Microsoft employees doing interesting stuff with it.

But I doubt they will bring this stuff to the PC, or anything else. Apple learned a lot from iOS and brought things "back to the mac", I seriously doubt Microsoft's ability to do the same with its exclusive product.

So we will have to wait to see what Apple will do with Kinect - type of technology.
post #37 of 145
wilco, if you are out there, I think it is only fitting that you return and deliver the eulogy.
post #38 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

ROFL!! Yes, there can be no doubt, it failed only because of the reasons AI wrote about.

From everything I read the Zune it actually was reasonably good hardware. They had a great music subscription system, Zune Pass. All the music in their library for $15 bucks per month, plus you get credits to buy 10 songs each month.

I think the Zune failed primarily because of Microsoft's horrible marketing and of course, Apple's market dominance (well deserved be that as it may).

-kpluck

When are people going to learn that marketing is not a cure-all if you don't have a great product?

Why do people still think shelling out $15 a month to listen to music is such a great idea?
post #39 of 145
Zune is such a forgettable and dumb name. MS actually paid some ad company serious money for this wreck?
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post #40 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuisDias View Post

We have to recognize that the current windows phone 7 series is at least a seriously rethinking of what a smartphone should be.

And that Kinect is really good.

I agree about Windows Phone 7 - I had a look at a colleagues and was really impressed with it. It does some things really nicely.

Kinect is pretty cool too. There's lots of other applications you could see that technology be used for.

As a side note, I've thought of another dumbest thing Microsoft ever did. If you were to look at it from the point of view of a Microsoft shareholder, I would think giving Apple money to keep them going in 1997 was pretty stupid.
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