The History of the Zune
Zune is Gone
If you don't know by now, Microsoft's "Answer to the iPod" has officially been put into gadget heaven. The Microsoft Zune, that was first seen in 2006, just could not steal the fire away from Apple and their hugely successful iPod and later, iPhone. Despite the Zune now becoming an antique, Microsoft will continue it's Zune media service that is integrated into the Xbox 360's Xbox LIVE. It seems like every month we see a new product coming out that is "sort-of" like an Apple product; this is simply other tech companies trying to mimic the success Apple has had with their design and marketing. A great deal is spoken when we see a corporate great like Microsoft finally succumb to defeat and I imagine it will send a cold chill down the spine of many more tech hardware makers.
Let's take a look back at the history of the Zune and discuss what went wrong in the process to the attempted dethroning of Apple.
First Generation Zune
The first generation Zune, the Edsel. The gadget that sent Apple haters into a craze of happiness. Who knew that once this nifty little gadget hit store shelves, it only had a five year lease on life? The "Zune 30" was originally codenamed "Argon" and was being worked on beside the Zune Marketplace, codenamed "Alexandria" by the overseer of the Xbox 360, J Allard. The Zune never really made an image for itself, and on December 31, 2008: it's lackluster image became even MORE tarnished. The Zune had a bug in it's clockwork relating to leap year, so anyone that owned a Zune, suddenly had a frozen device when they woke up for the new year in 2009. Happy New Year to ya, folks!
Second Generation Zune
The Second Generation "Video" Zune entered the game with three models. Two of which had flash-based memory and the other with the traditional hard drive. The flash-based models, however, were immediately kicked to the curb as the 4GB and 8GB models were clearly unimpressive standing next to the 80GB traditional model. Little did we know that flash-based storage will be the way to go for the future, but somehow, it just didn't catch with the Zune.
Third Generation Zune
The Third iteration of Microsoft Zune came to the leagues only two years after the first generation Zune. The release coincided with the 'software 3.0' they were releasing on the same day for the Zune Marketplace. The only change from the previous generation was a tweak with the firmware and storage capacity options. The ability to "tag" songs heard on the Radio potion of the device was implemented as well as the ability to purchase songs from the marketplace via Wi-fi was first seen. Also Microsoft teamed up with Audible.com's audiobook service. As an incentive for their Zune marketplace to gain popularity, a "Zune pass" was made available that would allow customers to download 10 free songs per month.
Fourth Generation Zune
On September 15th, 2009; The "Zune HD" was born. This was the last full update of the hardware for the Microsoft Zune. It sported a spiffy new OLED capacitative touch screen, HD video out and HD radio. Also the Zune 4.0 firmware was released at the same time but did not bring any of these new features to the older Zune models (which was a first). Eventually the Windows Phone (another doomed project) was released in 2010 and supported the Zune media which was considered the "Zune update for the year". Despite Microsofts determination to steal some market share from Apple, it ultimately was iPod or bust amongst the crowd.
If you were holding out on getting a new Zune HD for the holidays or waiting for a new iteration of the device, go get your shovel because these babies are now six-feet-under.