Microsoft Zune Is Dead, Tens of Users Mourn

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Microsoft’s Zune digital music and video player is dead, according to a recent Bloomberg report. Although company officials have yet to announce its passing, online rumors abound that future development of dedicated Zune hardware will indeed be killed in favor of embedding Zune software into mobile devices instead.

A perennial distant second to Apple’s iPod, the Zune, first released in 2006, failed to garner comparable sales or become a major force in the MP3 player industry, even following the release of 2009’s largely well-received Zune HD upgrade. (To be pecise, the gadget was largely well-reviewed by critics, who nonetheless saw it as an also-ran and a case of too little, too late compared with Apple’s phenomenal design and unprecedented App Store success.) With Microsoft having also lost considerable share in the mobile communications market in recent years, redoubling efforts to place Zune functionality (which lets shoppers buy songs and films or stream unlimited tunes) on Windows Phone 7 handsets would seem a practical compromise.

“We have nothing to announce about another Zune device — but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America,” the company told Bloomberg via an e-mailed statement. “We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms.”

As well it should, presumably, as the gizmo’s earthly passing is liable to be mourned only by the minuscule number who purchased dedicated Zune hardware in the first place.