Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will no longer make new versions of the Zune device, ending a four-plus year effort to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iPod music player, according to a Bloomberg News report. The company isn’t confirming the story, saying it has “nothing to announce about another Zune device.”
However, the report of the Zune’s demise follows weeks of rumors that Microsoft was soon going to change its strategy for the Zune and its related services, which include a music store and the ZunePass subscription service. Executives had stopped referring publicly to the Zune, and the company has been hiring for a new “music/video discovery and consumption” effort called Ventura, which some speculated could replace the Zune.
It’s also no secret, of course, that the Zune hasn’t exactly been a consumer hit for Microsoft, and over time, the company has increasingly been emphasizing Zune-related services instead of the Zune device itself. For instance, in September, Microsoft said it would launch the Zune brand outside North America for the first time, but notably said it would not sell the Zune music player abroad.
Microsoft most recently launched a new Zune in September 2009, when it introduced the well-received Zune HD. In the past, the company had typically launched new Zune models each fall, but no new devices were released in autumn 2010.
Here’s Microsoft’s full statement: “We have nothing to announce about another Zune device — but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America. We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms.”