Microsoft Kills Zune, Promoted Xbox to Entertainment Hub

In yet another rebranding, Microsoft has officially killed Zune, the music and video player in Windows 7. Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer of Interactive Entertainment Division at Microsoft, has stated that the Xbox will become the entertainment hub and will be delivering new services in the near future with Windows 8.

This year, Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. Whether on your PC, tablet, TV or phone, Xbox will be a gateway to the best in music and video, your favorite games and instant access to your friends. With the launch of Windows 8, we’ll bring Xbox entertainment to everyone. With Xbox on Windows 8 devices, we rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 60 million people to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

We understand that entertainment has become a multi-screen experience where you and your friends are watching TV, listening to music, and playing games while interacting with your tablets and phones in new ways. We’ve got ideas for making all the entertainment you love more personal, interactive and social across the devices you love—and on the phenomenal Windows 8 devices that are to come.

His comments are true, but will the death of Zune have a negative impact? It’s probably true to say that relatively few people had much to do with Zune – those with Zune players or Windows Phone would have had it, but many more people would have been reliant on Windows Media Player or iTunes. Nonetheless, in the media department at least, Microsoft seems to be suffering from a lack of decisiveness when it comes to branding, as it has been doing a lot of renaming. The Zune players were meant to be Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, and despite being critically well received they were short lived, with Microsoft killing the line off. Recently we have also seen Windows Live being given its retirement package, as it simply becomes Microsoft services – which begs the question of why Xbox is immune to this and doesn’t become Microsoft Entertainment or some such. Actually, the Xbox was so successful probably because it lacked the Microsoft/Windows branding.

The problem isn’t so much dropping Zune, but was there actually a need to? With Microsoft changing names at a speed that can make heads spin, the biggest problem it may face is alienating potential consumers that simply find too much confusion in Microsoft’s offerings.