I just shared this news with my wife and her reaction was “WHuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuT! Why?” The shock was audible for her.
I couldn’t believe it when I read it yesterday and yet I cannot find anything to dispute its truth. Yesterday it was reported that Microsoft will cease production of the Zune. They will sell the remaining stock and then the Zune will be no more. I have to admit that typing those words sends a shudder through me. 5 years ago the Zune was the answer to Apples crushing success in the MP3 player world the Ipod. Zune was innovative and feature rich, and yet never really caught on. I of course use them still and love them. My kids love theirs! Simple features like the addition of an HD radio, are a a big deal. I’m getting nostalgic already. I have 2 things I need to get off my chest related to this news.
1. I’m a little bit annoyed that Microsoft is for all intents and purposes giving up on the Zune. (I know that the Windows Phone is sort of taking up that torch but not enough.) I spent the last 5 years telling my children that as long as Microsoft makes a competing product we will not be buying Ipods. I believe in riding for the brand! The Zune HD was hands down a better product than the Ipod. What do I tell my children now? ( and No, a $199 Windows Phone on a 2 year contract, plus a data plan charge per month, is not an equivalent solution for my 8 year old.)
2. This one is a little deeper in its philosophy. If a competitor owns a market segment and you set out to compete in that same segment, under what circumstances do you decide to no longer compete for that business. Long ago Microsoft entered a networking marketplace totally and wholly owned by Novell servers. It took more than a decade and the tables turned dramatically. Imagine if Microsoft had stopped at Windows NT 3.51 because sales weren’t sufficient to justify the costs of continuing operations. I know Microsoft is planning to continue its forray into consumer electronics. I have heard Steve Ballmer himself talk about the importance of tablets and phones and other consumer devices. I know we are not giving up that fight. This is why the Zune news comes as such a shock to me.
I am anxiously awaiting Microsoft’s official statement on the end of the Zune in hopes that there may be some more light shed on the reasons behind this move and maybe some suggested messaging for my children and friends whom I have evangelized Zune to for the past 5 years.