Microsoft to followers: Zune ain’t dead. So why are fans in mourning?
For the 198,775 people who’ve declared their allegiance to the Microsoft Zune, these are troubling times. News reports are swirling that Microsoft will kill off the iPod-wannabe imminently. The only problem is Microsoft is denying the reports, but nobody’s listening. Yes, there’s a Zune metaphor in there somewhere.
The trouble began yesterday when Bloomberg reported, that Microsoft is planning to pull the plug on the device due to “tepid demand,” citing an unnamed “person familiar with the decision.” Tepid demand? Really? Well, we wouldn’t know as Microsoft has only sold the device in the U.S. and Canada.
Following the report, the tech media had a bit of fun, writing the Zune’s obituary and already today the “RIP Zune” is trending on Twitter. Cue outrage in the surprisingly dedicated Zune Facebook community with cries like this one from fan Roger Burgess:
Is Microsoft killing off the ZuneHD? Tell me it ain’t so.
Other fans got testy, wondering:
Are you guys going to get on the story from Bloomberg soon or not? It’s been almost two hours. That’s an eternity in the social media world. Zune users, devs, and fans are completely in the dark right now. Fix it.
Admirably, Microsoft responded with a straightforward clarification that it posted to its 148,000 fans on Facebook (and, for good measure, it posted the same message to the 50,000 followers of Twitter channel).
And yet, doubts clutter the page that Microsoft plans to live up to its word of being “absolutely committed.”
Why? Perhaps because they’ve seen this before. Microsoft killed off the Kin smart phone last July in a move that stunned the tech community for its hatchet-like suddenness. The handset was only available for 48 days despite being billed as the perfect device for on-the-go social-network-addicted-twentysomethings market. A big market, to be sure. Still, we managed to find 175 or so Kin mourners.
This time around the Zune fan base, or Zune nation, as it’s called, is larger, more vocal and will be harder to console with a cursory condolence. The software works across gadgets and hardware too, designed for the PC, Xbox and mobile phones that run Windows so we could see Zune living on as a software and marketplace, but maybe not as a full-fledged gadget. Maybe this is what Microsoft means when it says it will share more information about the “evolution” of Zune. You’d hope the news comes quickly. Sounds like there are plenty of fatalistic fans assuming the worst for Zune.