Microsoft reportedly axing its Zune music and video players; Zune software to live on
Microsoft is going to discontinue its Zune music and video player, but Zune software will remain, according to a report.
The Zune music and video software is currently available on Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game system, Windows Phone 7 operating system, and Windows desktop software, and that will remain the case, according to a Bloomberg story.
Due to tepid demand for Zune hardware, production of Zune-branded devices will cease, and once the stock of Zune players currently in stores sells out, that'll be the end of the Zune's shelf life, Bloomberg said.
Microsoft, for its part, isn't quite confirming or denying the reported plan to kill off the Zune standalone devices.
"We're absolutely committed to providing the best movies, music, and TV show experiences through Zune on Xbox, the PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune devices," said Caitlin McCabe, a Microsoft spokeswoman in an e-mail. "We'll share more information about the evolution of the Zune entertainment service and Zune hardware as future plans develop."
Aside from Zune software, Microsoft offers a Zune pass subscription service, which allows users to stream an unlimted number of songs, and keep any 10 they want each month, to any Zune software compatible device -- the Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows computers -- for $15 per month. Microsoft also sells a yearlong Zune Pass for $149.90.
The first Zune player was released in late 2006 as Microsoft's answer to Apple's runaway smash iPod music player. Over the years, the Zune has seen its share of updates and even added features that many iPods lacked, such as radio reception and the ability to play high definition video to TVs.
But the Zune has failed to match the sales success of the iPod and the last new hardware release for the Zune came in September 2009 with the release of the Zune HD player.
Last year, Apple's iPod topped the market for portable music and video players with 77% of unit sales, while the Zune wasn't ranked in the top five, according to data from the NPD Group research firm.
Microsoft was beat out by not only Apple, but also SanDisk, which came in second with a 7% share of the market, Mach Speed with a 4% share, and Sony and Coby with 2% each of the market to round out the top 5.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Top photo: The 2009 Zune HD from Microsoft was released Sept. 15, 2009. Credit: Microsoft.
Bottom photo: Microsoft first-generation Zune released in late 2006 Credit: Douglas Evans/AFP/Getty Images