Friday, January 09, 2009

Zune be done: Ballmer signals that Microsoft is thinking of axing player

Lost a little in the excitement over Windows 7 at the CES (and, hey, what could possibly be more exciting than a new Microsoft Operating System?) was the cold wind that Steve Ballmer wafted round the loss-making Zune division:

He said that, with the market for dedicated portable media players in decline, the future lay in more “general purpose” devices – such as Apple’s iPhone and touch.

Asked if Microsoft would counter with a “Zune Phone”, Mr Ballmer said: “You should not anticipate that.” He added that the company would stick to its strategy of developing software to support a range of mobile devices. That suggests that, if there is a future for Zune, it lies in planting the software and online service linked to the player in other devices.

What an excellent idea - instead of trying to make money on an mp3 player, Microsoft could bring its know-how to providing a service for other manufacturer's devices. Exactly like the PlaysForSure strategy which MS killed off when it launched the Zune. It's not clear why manufacturers who've already been burnt once by Microsoft would be keen to work with them on a revival of PlaysForSure, though.