End of the line for Microsoft Zune HD?
The Zune MP3 player may have run its course. After four generations of the digital music player failed to gain market share against Apple's iPod lineup, Microsoft is rumored to be focusing on Zune software and services for PCs, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7. The fourth-generation device, Zune HD, shipped in September 2009.
An article by Bloomberg published on Monday said that Microsoft would stop releasing new Zune hardware models, but it cited an unnamed source for that information.
Dave McLauchlan, senior business development manager for Zune HD, responded to the rumor via a forum on the anythingbutipod blog. Microsoft has not issued any information on the purported demise of the hardware version of the Zune music player, according to a blog post attributed to McLauchlan, who said that he manages Zune hardware business development at Microsoft, and that he still has that job. McLauchlan implied that the Bloomberg story should be viewed with skepticism, without debunking the story's claims.
"To be 100 percent clear -- NO information about our future plans, no matter what the incarnation, has been shared," McLauchlan said.
The Bloomberg article claims that Microsoft has its Zune teams split into hardware and software groups, with the split occurring sometime in 2009.
McLauchlan implied that Microsoft considers Windows phones to be a hardware release of the Zune.
"We were completely frank about this year's Zune hardware being the WP7 phones, and we continue to both sell and fully support the Zune HD line of products," the blog states. "And as I've promised -- we continue to bring new apps and games to the platform. More of those are in the works, I promise you."
Microsoft did not respond to an inquiry sent on Tuesday about Zune hardware plans. However, it did release a statement to Bloomberg stating that it had nothing to announce about another Zune device and that "our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms."
Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.