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.