After a steep uphill battle against Apple's dominant iPod line and iOS devices, as well as competition from a crop of multifunctional game-, music- and movie-playing smartphones, Microsoft has officially canned its Zune media player.
"We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players," Microsoft's official Zune site reads
The company said Zunes that are out in the wild will continue to work with Zune services, despite the hardware discontinuation, and customer support will continue.
The canning of Zune hardware comes after a March 2011 report from Bloomberg, which cited anonymous sources who said no new Zune hardware models
were in the works. At the time, Microsoft avoided confirming the rumor.
The Zune, released in 2006, had close ties to video gaming initiatives at Microsoft. The project was overseen by former Xbox 360 guru J Allard, and after the device launched, Microsoft integrated Zune functionality into Xbox Live.
The device was Microsoft's bid to compete with Apple's massively popular iPod. But in 2007, the iPhone and iPod Touch launched, and in 2008 the App Store debuted, changing the face of distribution of mobile entertainment including music, video and games.
The Zune was also a gaming platform, hosting titles such as Hexic
, and versions of Project Gotham Racing
. But it never managed to draw the market or the developer support enjoyed by Apple's mobile devices.