Chalk up one more victory for Apple. According to reports, Microsoft is about to pull the plug on the Zune.
First released in 2006, the Zune music and media player was intended by Microsoft to be its iPod killer. Those plans didn’t exactly work out. The initial product launch was fairly disastrous. In 2009, Microsoft redesigned the device with a larger screen and new features that made it more of a direct competitor for the iPod Touch. The new Zune HD was better received. Many reviewers and owners will even argue that, from a hardware and design perspective, it’s actually superior to the iPod Touch. However, Microsoft was still unable to grab a significant foothold in the market. The Zune HD came too late and didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from a product much more firmly embedded in the popular consciousness.
For the purpose of watching movies (our main focus here at The Bonus View), the Zune HD seems like a nice mobile device. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by a lack of compatibility with Digital Copy (as far as I’m aware, it won’t even play the WMV version of Digital Copies that many studios offer) or a downloadable catalog anywhere near comparable to the iTunes Store. Sure, you can rip DVDs to play on it – but you can do that just as well on pretty much any smartphone these days. Since the Zune HD doesn’t make phone calls, I personally didn’t see it offering me much that I wouldn’t rather do on my Android phone.
Apparently, a lot of other people agreed. Reuters is now reporting that Microsoft is on the verge of discontinuing the device, to focus instead on adding Zune software and features into other mobile phones. That’s probably a wise decision.
Are any of our readers Zune or Zune HD owners? Tell us your thoughts on the product and this news in the Comments below.