Bye Bye Zune: Microsoft Exits Media Player Market
Can't say this is surprising, but Microsoft is expected to pull the plug on the Zune media player line. They will keep the Zune-branded software and music services as part of Windows Phone 7, but no new versions of the Zune hardware itself will be released.
IMO, Microsoft should have seen this coming four years ago when the first Zunes came out to tepid reviews and sales. By that time, growth in the media player market had already slowed down, and the smartphone was starting to ramp up as the new growth platform.
All too often, the Zune came across as a reactive "me too" device, that seemed to constantly copy whatever the iPod was doing a year earlier. During that time, I kept saying that the Zune matching the iPod on specs and adding a new feature or two would not get it done, because the iPod had a whole ecosystem that had developed around the iPod platform, adding significantly to its utility.
Consider that the original Zune, which copied the iPod Classic, came out two months before Apple announced the iPhone and effectively turned the entire market upside down. And then, Microsoft announced the their first flash-based Zune (which copied the iPod Nano) right after Apple released the iPod Touch. Microsoft didn't have a touchscreen Zune until late-2009 (more than two years after the iPod Touch came out).
For the Zune to make any inroads on the iPod, Microsoft had to come up with something compellingly better. By all accounts, the Zune was a decent product, and some would say a better value than the iPod. However, it was failed strategy because it brought nothing new to the table, and led to a rather predictable result -- a perennial also-ran in a declining market. Then again, I think Microsoft got exactly what they deserved, since their introduction of the Zune basically screwed their "partners" in the PlaysForSure platform -- yet another failed Microsoft media player.
With all that said, I think this does signify that the standalone media player market is effectively dead (i.e., commoditized). Apple has maintained iPod revenues by shifting sales into the more expensive iPod Touch, which is more a pocket computer than just a media player. But, the rest of the media player market has seen declining revenues and unit sales. It looks like the iPod will continue to dominate, as profit opportunities in rest of the segment wane, and Apple is able to leverage iOS to keep high margins in its share of the media player market.
No surprises here. Just another grave in the yard at Microsoft...put it right next to the Kin.
I wasn't that impressed with Windows Phone 7 either, and never see people with them.
One of these days MS will get something else right.
I bought my son a 16GB Zune for Xmas and when comparing to other media players and the Ipod found the Zune a better value. After my son got it and learned how to use it I am still convinced it's a good product and value. I understand what you are saying about MS though and the media player market is saturated with most phones doing it all. It's amazing how fast 16GB can get filled up when you begin to add photos, music and aps. The Zune has an incredible picture quality. I haven't seen any videos on an Ipod but the Zune is bright and vivid like a good LCD TV.
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The Kin fiasco totally reeks of a dysfunctional management structure, and that's totally on Ballmer. The problem is that there's still a "quality is job 1.1" mentality at Microsoft. That might fly in the software market, but it's the kiss of death in consumer electronics.
Originally Posted by kexodusc
Windows Phone 7 was supposed to be Microsoft's reemergence into relevance. Even with features incomplete and plenty of work yet to do, they did a lot of things right with the first release. But, any sign that they were going to run a tight ship and do things right got shot to pieces when they botched the first software update. Pretty much business as usual at Microsoft, but they can't afford to play that game, not when the playing field is getting redrawn in real time.
The Zune has its fans, and it has evolved into a decent media player. The problem is that the market it was created for is in sharp decline, and that includes Apple's non-iOS iPod models.
Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
With the iPod line, the Touch model now accounts for half of all iPod sales. And the strength with the Touch is that it supports the full iOS app platform -- it has branched way out beyond its core media player functions. The Zune never had an answer for the iPod Touch, and I think that led to its demise.
MS could have done more to integrate Windows Phone 7 development with the Zune, but then they'd continue to run up against Apple's supply chain advantage. Apple shares major components between the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, so they can make tens of millions of component purchases at a time with cash up front. MS cannot do that, so they've been taking losses on the Zune.
I've been thinking about getting a new phone, probably a smart phone, but I tried using an Ipod and while the device is great, the software failed to impress me. Same with Zune. I like simple, I like Sansa. I plug it in and my computer sees it as a flashdrive. I load music files on it as if it were a flashdrive. No management software. Yes, I know I could sync the device up to Windows Media Player, but I don't wanna. At least Sansa gives me a choice. I got my kids a Windows 7 based phone, and in order to load their own music and play it on their device, they have to establish a ZuneTunes acct....I think that fvckin sucks. At least the a**holes (cellphone manufacturors) have finally gotten around to using standard mini-jacks for headphones. I won't be getting rid of my stand alone player any time soon.
Repost this on your wall if you love Jesus.
My sister just got an EVO that seems to display many of those characteristics...mebbe something to investigate.
Originally Posted by 3LB
So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"
I wouldn't even consider Zune. My iPod Mini (V.2) died, likely just the battery, and I haven't replaced it. If I did, it would be an ad hoc music player like the SanDisk Sansa Fuze Plus.
Originally Posted by 3LB
The iPod has a certain temptation but not enough for me to spring the cash. I don't have and don't want a smart 'phone. Either would just be toy.
You'd be very surprised at how much functionality is built into the iPod Touch. With a wi-fi connection, you now have an instant-on web browser, portable internet radio, e-mail reader, and game player (addiction = Angry Birds) that also performs the same music playback functions as your Mini.
Originally Posted by Feanor
Last edited by Woochifer; 03-18-2011 at 12:42 PM.
The Touch is intriguing I'll admit. Problem is that small devices like that, or even somewhat larger ones like iPad or netbooks, are a problem for me because their small screens don't work well with my aging eye sight. Thus features that are would appeal to lots of people don't do so much for me.
Originally Posted by Woochifer
When my old cell phone dies I might consider an iPhone (or similar) since combination of features would go further towards justifying the cost.
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