Oh Zune, wherefore art thou?
February 14, 2011 19 Comments
In all of the hubbub about Windows Phone and it’s future, many are noticing that the word Zune isn’t being mentioned in practically any conversations of the OS updates. It’s not even brought up when the phone is demonstrated. This is a far cry from when Windows Phone 7 was introduced in 2010 and even when the phone was officially launched last year. In those demos, much was made about the Zune part of the “music+videos” hub and how even having Zune Pass turned your phone into a virtual jukebox. Joe Belfiore, in the keynote for Mobile World Congress last year even stated “Every Windows Phone will be a Zune”. That kinda quelched people who were clamoring for the infamous ZunePhone.
Now, fast forward to today. Not much is mentioned about Zune. It’s still the name you see when you open the “music+videos” hub, but not much is being said if Zune is going to add anything new or what. As a Zune MVP this makes going into the MVP Summit quite interesting for me. Of course, whatever I find out at Summit will be under NDA, but maybe we’ll get more on the story of what’s being planned for Zune in 2011.
My issue with the lack of Zune notice goes in quite a few directions. For starters, much was made about using the Zune software as your syncing station for Windows Phone 7. The Zune software is a wonderfully designed interface and people have considered it a great improvement over the presentation given in iTunes. If Zune isn’t going to be Zune anymore where does that leave the Zune software? And could this explain why the trigger hasn’t been pulled on the discontinuation of Windows Media Player?
Secondly, what does this do for Zune Pass? Zune Pass is arguably one of the key differentiators for Zune at the moment and is a great way for people to discover music. Having a Zune Pass account fuels most of the features that you can use across a wide range of devices: Windows Phone, Zune HD, XBOX 360, etc. Would we just get Music Pass or Media Pass or Hall Pass or Pass the Peas, I don’t know!?
Then there’s the reorganization of Zune. A while ago the hardware and software teams were split. I’m all fine with that but does that bleed ultimately result in a dissolve of Zune as a name and will things that Zune does blend into other services. The talk is that it will blend into Windows Live (which could explain why long ago, people were asking why “Zune Live” was mentioned in some of the knowledge base articles). But then again, how exactly would Zune fit into Windows Live?
Microsoft guru, Paul Thurrott, has sources that tell him that Zune would be blended into Windows Live. Again, it would explain that whole Zune Live label, but I can’t fully see how that would work. Would the Zune software become part of Windows Live Essentials, for example?
My buddy Michael Gillett, over at My Microsoft Life, has the theory that Zune isn’t being mentioned because it’s not that well known in those areas like Bing and XBOX 360 are. The problem I have with that is Zune has been out longer than Bing has (as a name at least), but then much can be said about Zune’s lack of international flavor. However, when you’re on grand stages like Mobile World Congress and a blockbuster Nokia announcement, those are the times to mention things like Zune — you know, when you have everyone’s attention on you.
Then there’s the recent story that Zune Video (thanks to blockbusters like Kinect) have actually been gaining on iTunes. So now Zune’s name is out there in a positive story and suddenly we’re still going to phase it out?
One other piece in this equation? Zune Social
Nothing is mentioned of Zune Social by anyone. I’ll still argue that Zune Social is head and shoulders above Ping and could still be a great music community with a few tweaks and additions. Are we now leaving that service in limbo? Again, I say that Zune Social should either (re)become part of the Windows Live aggregate of services or be fused into the OS and made part of the people hub.
Ultimately, the assumption is that Zune (as a name) goes and the services stays. Um, so what the hell do you call the software? Download the Windows Phone Software? Download the Microsoft Media software? Anyone have a better name for it, if it won’t be labeled as Zune?
If this does sound like a bunch of rambling, it’s primarily because nothing has been said by anyone about the lack of Zune moving past anyone’s lips lately. Thoughts, speculations, criticisms, etc are flying left and right as more people trying to piece together what’s going on and how could that bode for Zune in 2011.
Lots can be said about the lack of international presence, the fragmentation of the service, the state of devices and more, but us Zune users who have to endure finger pointing, stale Family Guy jokes, “Who still owns a Zune?” questions on Twitter and having to make ‘squirting’ not sound as bad as it could’ve been, deserve some kind of clarity on what’s happening with this brand.
I would like to sign off this post with “time will tell”, but how much time are people willing to give?