Report: Microsoft to end Zune hardware line

Microsoft plans to stop introducing new models of its Zune media player, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the decision, Bloomberg reports that the company will instead focus on building out its Zune software for mobile phones and Xbox 360. The software offers music and movie purchasing options, as well as an unlimited music streaming subscription service. In an email statement to Bloomberg, Microsoft declined to comment on the report, instead saying “We have nothing to announce about another Zune device—but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America.[…] Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms.”

The report notes that Microsoft plans to continue selling existing versions of the Zune, which include the Zune HD, the company’s last all-new hardware model released in 2009. Microsoft first introduced the Zune in 2006 as a rival to the iPod, with CEO Steve Ballmer saying at the time that “We can beat them, but it’s not going to be easy,” referring to Apple. The company later split the Zune team into two separate groups, with one focusing on hardware and one focusing on software, mostly for other platforms including the company’s Windows Phone and Xbox devices.

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