Remember the social! According to a new Bloomberg report, Microsoft has plans to let its Zune players silently fade away and will not continue to manufacture the devices in the future.
It seems that all the slick marketing dollars spent on the Zune products and its insulated social network could make a dent in the vast iTunes-iPad ecosystem.
We reached out to Microsoft to confirm whether the rumors of a Zune device demise are true. Though a company spokesperson didn't address the issue point blank, they did say, "Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms, and we remain committed to providing a great music and video experience with the Zune service.”
That certainly has a strong aroma of a software-only shift. So what's the future of Zune?Zune still has some features Apple has yet to match, such as a subscription model for all-you-can-eat music track downloads. Zune is also great for music discovery, offering custom stations with simple ways to buy or rent favorite songs. Too bad Microsoft still uses a lame points system for a la carte purchases. You also can't get Zune on smart phone platforms other than Windows Phone 7. Where are the Android and iOS apps?
You also won't find Zune services on set-top boxes other than the Xbox. If Microsoft wants Zune to be a major player in media, it's going to have to broaden its appeal and availability. In other words, strengthening the "Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms" won't be enough. Microsoft needs to make Zune platform agnostic while spelling out the benefits of using Zune on Microsoft's own products.