You read that right. A source inside of Microsoft has stated that since no one really wants their Zune MP3 players, they have decided to let the hardware development die off, while focusing on what Microsoft does so well: Software.
According to Steve Ballmer from 2006, the Zune will one day overtake Apple in the Personal Media Player market. According to Chris Ness from 2011, Steve Ballmer is one helluva optimist. The Zune (which supposedly would top Apple’s 77% market share last year) didn’t even hit one of the top 5 spots on the list.
It appears that Microsoft will focus more on placing their Zune software in other devices. In 2009, Microsoft split the Zune team into hardware and software. The hardware side focused on the Zune line, while the software team focused on the desktop software, as well as the integration with other products, such as the Xbox 360 and the Windows Phone 7 series of devices.
While Microsoft will not officially comment on the ending of their line of MP3 players, I can’t imagine they’re making tons of cash, despite the devices being beautiful, and the software beats iTunes on Windows machines, hands down. Let’s not forget that the last refresh to the Zune lineup was in 2009, with the Zune HD, which will continue to be sold.
The Zune software, which takes advantage of Zune Pass, will be the focus of the Zune team from now on, according to the source. Zune Pass ($15 a month) allows streaming of music from the Zune Marketplace, as well as purchasing music and videos. Of the songs you stream, 10 are allowed to be kept and accessed on whichever hardware accesses your library. Expansion of the Zune software into more devices may be the wise choice for Microsoft, because of all the difficulties that can come with hardware development.