None too Zune? Microsoft announces death of MP3 player

With all the commotion today about the iPhone 4S, few have noticed the death of the Zune, Microsoft’s one-time challenger to Apple’s ubiquitous line of iPods.

Marketing as irony.

Marketing as irony.

Microsoft quietly pulled all mention of the Zune from its website and announced today it would no longer make the portable digital music players.

I will be flamed for this, but I rather liked my 8gb Zune. Why? It had an FM radio and I could listen to sports announcers while attending games. Also, the wireless sync feature was very neat … simply change the tunes in a desktop folder and the Zune in your car would change what songs were available on the go. And, the Zune didn’t require me to use iTunes.

But times change, Apple is rumored to be pulling the plug on the iPod Classic and tiny Shuffle.

“Zune services” will continue, largely on phones using the Windows Mobile platform, writes The Huffington Post.

Those “Zune Services” include the Zune Software suite, which is a media manager for the Zune and Windows Phone; the Zune Marketplace, where Zunies can purchase their music and movies; and the Zune Music Pass, a $10-per-month all-you-can-eat music streaming option similar to premium services from Spotify and Rhapsody. The Zune software is integrated into Microsoft’s Window Phones (which are just now receiving the much-hyped and potentially platform-saving Mango operating system) and will continue to operate as it did before, only without new physical Zune mp3 players on the shelves.

The Zune never sold well, so Microsoft will not miss the revenue. In its non-existent heyday it only captured 4 percent of the mobile music player market, compared to more than 70 percent for Apple.

Farewell Zune, say hi to my old buddy Walkman for me.

15 comments Add your comment

Phillip Culver

October 4th, 2011
12:09 pm

I love(d) my Zunes. As a MP3 player it was/is much better than the iPod, but it suffered from Microsoft’s malign neglect and non-existent marketing. It never became chic, and I never reached out from it and found ANYBODY else (the Social). I have an iPhone & an iPad2 and am neither Apple-phobic nor centric. The player sounds better than the iPod, it just does, using the same high-end ear buds. But as history has often told us…being the best does not trump having the best marketing. I will miss my Zune when it dies, and do not look forward to converting the Zune library to iTunes.


October 4th, 2011
12:32 pm

Never had a Zune until the Zune HD. It’s an impressive device. HD radio, music, videos, photos, internet, wifi, wireless sync and the few apps that available are fantastic. Was looking forward to what Microsoft would do with the next generation Zunes, but alas, I will never see it.

Hey Microsoft, any chance you’ll change your mind about the MS Courier? That thing would have been hot!

[...] more than 37.7 million iPod …Microsoft: Zune hardware dead, apps still aliveLos Angeles TimesNone too Zune: Microsoft announces death of MP3 playerAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Microsoft Zune Discontinued (2006-2011)International Business [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


October 5th, 2011
6:49 am

I purchased a Zune and after the first year it died on me, it would not work no matter what I did, I say good riddens…


October 5th, 2011
8:24 am

I really wish you’d actually shown a picture of the Zune HD as well. IMO is was a superior device to the iPod and introduce some innovations that other PMPs did not offer. Like a lot of Microsoft products it has fallen victim to the Apple hype machine and the lemming like mindset that most people have. Just like Windows Phone 7 people loved it when they actually took the time to use it but feared being ridiculed for not being cool enough to own something everyone else had.


October 5th, 2011
8:56 am

I liked my zune b/c you could sync to several computers and basically grab all your friends music without clearing your music you have (like iTunes would do)…I had so much music b/c of that…


October 5th, 2011
8:57 am

also…i don’t know many who like windows 7 isn’t a good product..


October 6th, 2011
3:59 pm

I still love my Zune HD. Great screen (better than the iphone at time of release, maybe still is), HD radio, games, wifi internet…I’ll continue to use it until it dies I think. Too bad it didn’t catch on, because other than the small selection of apps, it was better than the ipod touch I think


October 7th, 2011
8:01 pm

This comes as no surprise. While Phone 7 is an awesomely elegant, and high brow piece of tech, what this article is really saying is that the MP3 player is dead. Not many phones don’t store, stream or play music.

Metro UI Rocks! Zune software player is one sexy MFing app! Itunes and iOS are a testiment to great marketing.


October 10th, 2011
4:46 pm

Oh well. I was looking forward to getting a 64gb HD Zune.

Time to look for an Archos mp3 with >=160gb of space.


October 10th, 2011
6:04 pm

I have yet to see any players that could compare on price and storage. My zune holds 40 gigs, it was cheap, and after all these years its still not full. No more mp3 players for me when my zune dies.


October 12th, 2011
2:40 pm

I I absolutely LOVE my Zune! I was given one as a gift the first year that they were produced and we have been inseparable since! I’m very sad to see that the Zune has been axed…very sad indeed.


October 12th, 2011
3:53 pm

I love my Zune! I have had it for 4 years without a problem. I had no idea microsoft made it.


October 12th, 2011
5:54 pm

My big complaint about the Zune was about Microsoft’s strategy in limiting it’s purchases to their Zune store. MS already had the “Plays for Sure” system that guaranteed WMA media file compatibility from any participating store on any participating player, but MS had to go and require that Zune customers use a MS powered store (trying to get a piece of the money Apple gets with the iTunes store). If MS had allowed Plays For Sure customers to use their music on the Zune, I think it would’ve gotten more support from the public. (In another brain dead Microsoft Moment, “Plays for Sure” was renamed “Vista Ready” when Vista came out, even though it really has little to do with Vista; it was a guarantee that a PfS music file would play on a PfS player. The “Vista Ready” moniker just confused everyone and destroyed what value the “Plays for Sure” system had.)