Good night Zune =(

     If you couldn’t already tell I’m a die-hard Microsoft fan. I’m pretty rigid as many of my Mac using friends will tell you. I love Fords and Mopars. I can’t get enough of horror & action movies. And if you think I’ll ever buy and or use anything from Apple or Google, your dumber than you think you are. I love pretty much everything Microsoft makes. I have 2 PCs, 2 Xboxes’, a windows phone, office. About the only Microsoft products I would like to have but I don’t own are the surface (I live in a small studio apartment in the NYC area) and a Ford with Sync/Microsoft car. The only reason I don’t have that is because I don’t have a license. YET! I became a Microsoft fan because of 1 product line Microsoft made. The Zune! I use to be very platform agnostic. I really didn’t care about computer brands. As long as it was cheap and it worked I bought it. I went through a long series of iPods. iTunes made my computers crash. I’m a tech blogger by hobby. My day job is dog walker and computer repair on the side. Both of which require me to travel around NYC A LOT. By bicycle and subway Mostly. Every iPod I ever owned broke. None lasted me more than a few weeks. So a few years ago (2007 to be exact) I stopped buying iPods.

     I bought various mp3 players: Sony, creative, Sansa and Dell. Something was always wrong with them. The software seemed like it was an afterthought. The hardware was impossible to use. They all broke and using Napster and Rhapsody were painful experiences. Then along came Zune. All the software worked and the devices were battle tanks. I didn’t have to treat them like eggs. They took a beating and kept coming back for more. I officially became a Zune devote` when I was riding my bike down 8’th avenue. I was going about 35 MPG when a car stopped in front of me abruptly. I hit the car. Flew over it and hit the hood then the road. The car’s rear bumper was damaged, my bike was totaled and I was pretty banged up. I even had a mild concussion. I gathered myself up and at some point I collected my Zune 30 which had flown from my shirt pocket onto the side of the road. It was still playing as if nothing had happened. I’ve used nothing but Zunes since then.

     I’ve bought Zunes’ for many people. 10 to be exact. I’ve only bought 1 windows phone for someone other than myself but only because the price is a bit more prohibitive. I’ve owned every version of the Zune hardware. I recently gifted my last Zune to someone that needed an MP3 player because his iPod broke. Late last year Microsoft killed of the hardware line of zune. The last model of Zune being the HD 64 GB. They also ended the Zune originals program which took an already beautiful and impressive device and allowed they owners to make it their own. Not to long after that the Zune Insider podcast hosted by Matt Akers & Jessica Zahn of Microsoft abruptly ended. No countdown to good bye. Just a normal episode that closed with this is the last episode. Then Zunes’ customer support was closed down. All this following rumors that Microsoft has plans to box the brand and fold the service into Xbox. Now its time to face the music. Zune is going away.

     Zune was launched in 2007 to compete with the ipod and iTunes. It was initially mocked as a an iPod wanna be. Funny how no one says that about the iPhone even though windows mobile, Blackberry and Palm had been in the mobile phone game for a decade before the iPhone existed. Even odder that the iPad isn’t a Windows tablet wanna be. It was called ugly. Because that very 1’st iPod was a work of art right?

      And it was mocked till it became a meme and a safe joke for tech journalist who aren’t funny to begin with to make. By the second generation the Zune hardware had evolved. So much so that CNet thought that it was better than the iPod.

The Mini Zunes weren’t bad either

The Zune HD was a marketplace short of King

But that didn’t help it anemic sales. At some point Zune was neglected to all but it’s core fans and a few within Microsoft. I never saw an ad for Zune. Living in NYC, the home of Madison Ave and non-stop advertising. You’d think I would’ve seen at least one. I actually had to hunt down Zune ads on youtube. The rest were web ads.

     Zune never got the advertising that Bing, Xbox, Office, Windows, Windows phone of even the Microsoft Kin. Zune was neglected but it survived in spite of Microsoft or even the tech press that seems hell bent on killing it. I had hoped that as windows phone market share goes up so will Zunes presence, saving the brand. Zune has or had a lot of potential. When I showed people all that Zune offers, they wanted it over the iPod & iTunes. I spend much of my time reading other peoples work and doing analysis. When it comes to Zune, the news is positive when there’s word that it might go cross platform.

     Zune has for me just not only been the best music service/media manager. But it has been just a gorgeous exercise in design. Zune has been a great marriage of intelligence and elegance. Everyone at Microsoft must agree with me as Zune is about to the mother of everything Microsoft is about to become.

     Zune is what made me a Microsoft fan. For me it did have a halo effect. After buying and falling in love with my Zune I bought my 1’st Xbox. I then bought a decent computer that could do more than play low power games and surf the web. I even got my 1’st smartphone. At the time a windows mobile device and now I own a Windows Phone. I’m even learning how to make apps.

     I really wish and hope that Zune will not be purged from Microsoft. Zunes’ market share isn’t a weakness. It’s strength! Zune is a scrappy underdog. Killing it won’t solve anything. It would be another scar across Microsoft’s face like the Kin (which I wanted but wasn’t available on my carrier), or Bob. People remember failures & speaking as a blogger. speaking as someone that reads a lot of tech blogs and listens to a lot of tech podcast, it’ll still be thrown in Microsoft’s face. But if it’s given the same level of focus and attention the Xbox, Windows Phone and Bing are given. Zune could have one hell of a comeback story. A Rocky Balboa style comeback. Zune could be that division that people can point to as an example of Microsoft’s strength and intelligence. People love a story of redemption. Microsoft has that story in Zune. If it takes Zune cross-platform, advertises it, gives it the same advertising it gives Bing, Windows, office and gave the Kin. Not simply throwing its hands in the air and saying “It doesn’t sell as well as Windows, office or Xbox so lets kill it”. If Microsoft would offer Zune service in cars the way they offer Bing. Zune could be a force to be reckoned with.

     But as it stands it doesn’t seem like Zune is going to be around. In its stead will be Xbox live music. Where your xbox live gold pass will give you zune like service. In the latest build of Windows 8, theres something that looks like Zune but (it’s an app preview) it’s not quite nor is it called Zune in anyway whatsoever. This I believe will limit it to Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox much like iTunes is limited to iOS, Apple TV and the Desktop. I’ll miss Zune. It may not have set the world on fire but if you are a music purist and cared about how your music sounded and having unfettered access to music. Nothing could touch the Zune.


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