Microsoft has hinted that its Zune Player hardware has reached the end of the road and that no further devices would be developed or released.
Speaking to Bloomberg, a Microsoft spokesperson reportedly said, "We have nothing to announce about another Zune device."
The Redmond software giant's feeble forays into the media player market always faced an uphill struggle in the face of Apple's utter dominance, the various flavours of its iPod hardware hogging as much as 77 per cent of sales in recent years, but that didn't stop Microsoft from pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a string of devices which almost universally failed to gain favour with either reviewers or the gadget-buying public.
Despite some Zune Players having arguably better sound quality and more open architecture than Apple's closed iTunes ecosystem, the iPad's idiot-proof interface and slinky design won out over Microsoft's manifold wannabes.
The Zune brand, however, will live on with Microsoft making the sensible move and sticking to what knows best: software.
"We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360," the Microsoftie continued, adding. "Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms."
Even though the Zune player has failed to make much of an impact on the portable media player market, we have to admit we're a little said to see its demise. The brilliance of Apple's iPod is not only driven by the company's desire to make the best products available, but by a need to stay inexorably ahead of the competition. With one less also-ran snapping at its heels, there's a fear that the iPod will become complacent in its ubiquity.
Competition in the wonderful world of tech is essential to development. Back in 2006, an ebullient Steve Ballmer announced to the world that Microsoft was gunning for Apple in the media player arena, remarking “We can beat them, but it’s not going to be easy.”
Well... at least he was right about the second part.