After years of falling behind Apple’s iPod, Microsoft has decided to stop development of the Zune, its version of the music player. The company is expected to continue using the software on Windows phones, Xbox and other devices.
Microsoft will continue to sell existing Zune players, but will not develop or sell any new versions of it. When the company released Zune in 2006, CEO Steve Ballmer predicted it could one day overtake the iPod. Despite that boast, weak sales prevented the music player from cracking the top five of the music player market. Apple sold 77 percent of all portable music players last year.
The last new hardware model of the music player— the Zune HD— went on sale in 2009. Using Zune software customers can purchase songs or movies, and pay a monthly fee to stream unlimited music.
With the end of Zune, Microsoft has now abandoned two high profile products in less than a year. Last summer, Microsoft incorporated the struggling Kin phone into the Windows phone development team. The Kin was designed for users of social networking, but both Kin and Zune’s features are now largely available in the Windows Phone 7.