As if the cult of Apple didn't already have enough reasons to bond, the rumored demise of Microsoft's Zune has united them in a Christmas caroling fashion. Each member has their own theory on why the Zune got killed and they're singing it as loudly as they can. Beneath the seabed of headlines, however, it's clear that the Apple cult shares a few common theories.
1) The Zune was designed to appease the major labels. Richard Menta at the MP3 Newswire argues that the number one thing that killed the Zune is that it was designed to pacify major label executives and didn't focus nearly enough on pleasing the consumer. Microsoft created a compelling Zune-to-Zune sharing feature for the device, but due to concerns of "an open-air bazaar" of music piracy, Menta argues, it handicapped the feature, making it less appealing.
2) The death of the standalone music player. Tim Gideon at PCMag observes that the iPod captured and dominated the standalone music player market and many other competitors have since shifted their focus to the next big thing, i.e. tablets and phones. The MP3 player revolution is over. It happened.
Apple has, without a doubt, won the war, and has now shifted its attention to iPhones and iPads. Consumers too appear to be jostling towards multipurpose devices. The fact that a device only plays music isn't a selling point anymore.
No one wants five tech toys when they could have just one or two.
3) The marketing of Zune and its culture failed. Matt Kiebus at Death & Taxes makes the great point that Microsoft failed to create a culture to embed the Zune in; it aimed to position the Zuners against the Pod people, but the brown shell became a joke while the white earbuds morphed into a cultural statement.
Matt Rosoff at SFGate adds that the iPod launched strong, but the Zune didn't; it "offered very little over the iPod." Zune had the crippled sharing add-on. That's all.
According to Joe Wilcox at Beta News, "Zune never got the marketing support needed to establish the brand as viable alternative to iPod/iTunes." Microsoft did some ads, he says, but "not consistently or persistently enough" to establish the brand. Meanwhile, Apple's silhouette people became as infamous as the iPod.
4) An executive shakeup happened at Microsoft. Lastly, Nicholas Kolakowski at eWeek reveals that the Zune hardware "may also have found itself something of an orphan after Microsoft's massive corporate upheaval in 2010, which saw the departure of the executives who had brought the project to life, and a reorientation of the company's approach to consumer products." Kolakowski continues to say that part of the refocus may have "involved killing the Zune hardware, while keeping the software component — and associated media store — as a part of the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem." In other words, the Zune's downfall may have stemmed from a shake up in the Microsoft's guard too.
Dave McLauchlan, a Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, wrote in a statement that the death of the Zune is greatly exaggerated and that his followers shouldn't trust any news stories they read until it comes directly from Microsoft.
"To be 100% clear – NO information about our future plans, no matter what the incarnation, has been shared. Until then treat with healthy skepticism anything you read," McLauchlan says. So, there you have it. Take this post with a grain of salt. Microsoft is making a zPhone, therefore, the Zune isn't dead. It will live on.