What Ever Happened to Zune?

April 19th, 2007 | Categories: launch, marketing, markets, off topic, strategy

Microsoft Zune logoRemember that highly-touted, over-budget, lackluster Microsoft MP3 player Zune? If you don’t, I forgive you. If you do, you may be wondering the same things as I.

Is it still around? Did anyone actually buy one?

I don’t know a single person that bought the device. Nor do I ever hear or read anything about it anymore. It’s like it doesn’t exist. The iPod still seems to be the player of choice for most of the population. The disease that is the Apple culture has gone mainstream and never looked back.

I think we need a term for this recurring Microsoft trend.The scenario seems to follow an eerie, recognizable pattern in which the company enters an established market late in the game, and produces a hyped, high budget, flop of a product. How about the “Microsoft Syndrome”?

A recent example that comes to mind is the announcement of an Adobe Flash competitor named Silverlight. Isn’t it a little late in the game? Flash is the industry standard. In addition, most web junkies hate the plug-in from a usability perspective anyway.

I think the company needs a wake-up call. This software giant continues to ‘innovate’ and push the boundaries beyond traditional products into new, unchartered waters. Sometimes this move works (xBox), while most of the time it crumbles (Live Search, Zune).

If I had one piece of advice for the company, it would be this: stick with your core competency and focus on creating a more useful, enjoyable experience. Almost everyone hates Windows for many reasons. But since there is a monopoly, consumers have no other choice if they want to operate a PC. Furthermore, the company has a stranglehold on their bread-and-butter - the office suite. But this area is in jeopardy as competitors, such as Google and Zoho, threaten with web-based suites. Therefore, Microsoft needs to erect barriers against these competitors and create more robust offerings to satisfy consumer needs.

Finally, as mentioned, the company needs to focus on the Windows experience. After all, this is what made the company the worldwide mogul it is today. Without the OS, Microsoft is nothing. And I suspect there may be some heavy competition and surprising innovation in the area in the very near future.


  1. Rich Says:

    Nor do I ever hear or read anything about it anymore. It’s like it doesn’t exist.

    Maybe you’re reading the wrong places.

    Look, it gets lots of air time.

    Not particularly positive news, but news nonetheless.

  2. Carl Says:

    I know three people who own the Zune. All are very happy with it. I must say, having played with one at length it is a pretty nifty device, and I considered one when I went shopping to replace my iPod Mini earlier this year, however I am a HUGE iTunes fan, so that kinda killed it right there. Is Microsoft had some decent software behind the Zune, it would have been a closer call.

    I went with a 30GB black iPod instead.

  3. Jason Dunn Says:

    The Zune has its fans, and is still in the news - do a search for pink or red Zune, Zune phone, Zune 2.0, or flash Zune and you’ll find a lot out there. The Zune is a five-month old product going head to head against a huge, dominant player in the market - so the question is, what were you expecting? That Microsoft would sell 10 million in the first month and no one would buy iPods anymore? That’s not the way the market works…

    Jason Dunn

  4. Ben Tennent Says:

    The Zune was a complete disaster for Microsoft. I know of many major retailers stopped promoting it. To concentrate on much more capable players from Creative, Sony and Apple.
    The Zune suffered three unfortunate events. 1. The lacklustre release of Vista and 2. The release of the iphone and product design.

    Was the public really ready for a “brown mp3 player”? It really tells you much about the people at the helm at Redmond. Perhaps the next iphone killer from MS will be in Corderoy! Now thats something to look forward to..Not!

    I have looked at the Zune as an investment. If you have bought one keep it in the box and don’t open it. In a few years they will be desireable for collectors. You might get more money back than what you paid for it?

  5. Macrosoft Says:

    Well, Xbox survived marginally when competing head-on with Playstation 2. Xbox 360 won the market as Playstation was just too darn expensive and pack with unnecessary tech like blu-ray when everyone is going for downloads. We live in a fast-food world where goods and services are to be customised and serve right in front of you in a snap.

    As for Zune, I would say the marketing was bad, they didn’t reach the right market group -just head on with mass market. Apple did the right thing by going through teens cuz they try the new stuff asap.

    If Microsoft would want to surge ahead like it was in the glory days, then my advise is for them to stick to what they are good at from the very start - software integration experience. This is where they are good at, look at Windows then came packaged with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. Of course, not to forget the useful MS Office. So create something more applicable, Microsoft just ain’t in the field like the cheesy and flowery cult-like Apple.

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