I started off this week relaxed, looking forward to Microsoft’s Mobile World Conference announcements and how they would impact Windows Phone Users. I watched for the announcements and moved on thinking it was going to be an excellent week. Then the rumors started.

Just in case you haven’t kept up with the rumors lately, (I know that’s what you guys pay me for), seems talk of rebranding the Zune ecosystem is all the rage, with posts about the Zune’s demise popping up, like splinters do on unsealed wood. From Mary Jo Foley of Ziff Davis

“Over the past few days, more and more Microsoft watchers are noticing that Microsoft execs seem to be making a deliberate effort to avoid using the Z (Zune) word. That avoidance has set off a wave of speculation.

Some pundits claiming that Microsoft is moving to rebrand the service(Windows Live Entertainment, anyone?). Others believe Microsoft is clearing the decks to allow Microsoft’s latest and biggest Windows Phone partner Nokia to take over the streaming-music part of the service. (I’m not putting a lot of stock in that one, since Nokia recently closed the Ovi Music Streaming service.)”

First this: Microsoft has not made any announcements about whether it will be rebranding, moving, or shutting down any Zune services. Second most of these rumors from “tech pundits” can be traced back to Paul Thurott and the WinSuperSite. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way lets move on to discussing that sick feeling you are starting to get.

While Zune hasn’t done well with it’s standard devices the Zune ecosystem itself has never been stronger. Recent numbers show a pretty sizeable gain in video rental market share thanks to Kinect and Zune on XBOX. Zune on Windows Phone has pushed Zune Pass even further past it’s humble beginnings as a Media Player only service. To top it all off Zune has now made it’s debut overseas (no matter how half ass). By at least our standards Zune is kicking ass.


So why am I posting about it at all if I think it might be total baloney? I’m not sure if it is or isn’t. Two hours ago I was about a button press from pulling the plug on ZuneSpring, but the more I think on it, the more I think this is just a rumor that has merit but won’t ever come to pass. So why did I think the worst in the first place? That’ parts easy.

  • ZuneInsider podcast hosts Matt Akers and Jessica Zahn are the most public faces of Zune, so it’s disturbing when the team has been “reorged” so much Jessica has stopped telling us what her job is.
  • ZuneInsider itself has been all quiet for years now. Something that doesn’t help any PR flare up like this. “You are crazy! Zune can’t be dead, they update their blog all the time…Oh.”
  • Out of all the teams at Microsoft the Zune team manages to nearly never, ever leak anything. At. All. They do a release, they go silent for the next six months. Sure there was that Zune HD thing a few months back, but to our knowledge that was just the picture. Fanboys running rampant filled in the rest.

So what do you get when someone doesn’t mention Zune + a PR vacuum the likes of Housini Mubarak would love to have? You get an entire day dedicated to stories of how “Zune Might have been Kinned” (Even I thought that was funny).

Microsoft needs to act like they give a damn about Zune, use the blog and PR tools the way God intended, and be more forthcoming on what is coming down the pike. If the Windows Phone Team can tell us about updates coming in the fall in February, you can too.

5 Comments on “Editorials: Keep Zune Hold the Live Nonsense”

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth. There is no way they will discontinue the Zune brand from the fact that is more popular then ever right now. Why get rid of something when it is ust accually gaining momentum and growing popularity?

  2. They need to launch the Zune players worldwide. I had to import my 80GB a few years back, and i love it still, heck even imported a dock recently. W7P are good, but to promote them, and the Zune service more, to me is a no brainer. Give people more options to use Zune Microsoft. Not everyone like’s Apple and their rubbish software you know.

  3. I understand Microsoft’s need to hold information for a future press release or announcement but the problem is how long we’ve waited for news of new hardware. I can only think of a couple of other friends who use use the Zune services. Everyone else used iTunes/iPods. When Zune is so far behind the market, it’s tough to get excited when there’s a long lapse in news.

    When you don’t see ads on TV, print, or online then why did the Zune team frustrated that some people incorrectly believed the service as a whole was dying. I believe a change is coming, especially after reading the PR-like responses where the rebranding is never denied, just that the services will continue. If and when this happens, if the improvement isn’t dramatically better and it’s just a name change with some new features and/or loss of features then the Zune team needs to be prepared for the fall out.

    I love Zune, I’m not an MVP (one day maybe). I’m just an enthusiast of Zune, Windows Live, and Xbox who would love to see Micorosft get it right but know that the silence is scary, as is their ability to seriously challenge Apple. If they aren’t beating Apple’s iTunes/spreadsheet software with a much superior desktop client, then I just don’t know where we go from here. They can have the best software and hardware but without news, community, and ADVERTISING then we’ll just be lumped together with the fans of the Sansa clip players. They’re good products, but the average Joe will never know it or try it.

    Let’s get the rebranding started NOW and not after Apple reveals what they did with Lala.com, or I’ll be jumping ship if they bring the real Social to music.


  4. I know that was a long post. Sorry.

    As a side I’m noticing that MSN Music never mentions Zune. Maybe it never did but isn’t this ridiculous? Some MSN sites have headers, font styles, and other UI designs that are seriously old. Just dig deeper than the MSN homepage and you’ll see not much was changed after last year’s MSN update.

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