Xbox Music Kills the Zune Marketplace

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Yesterday, Microsoft used its big E3 press conference to show off more than just video games. Along with SmartGlass, Internet Explorer on the Xbox 360, and , the company devoted a short segment of the conference to introducing Xbox Music. The new music marketplace will run on the Xbox 360 and all Windows 8 devices, including tablets and Windows phones.

But, wait. Didn't the Zune Marketplace already unite everything music-related from Microsoft? It did indeed, and it appears as if Xbox Music will be killing off, or at least replacing, the Zune branding. Over at the Bits blog, The New York Times has confirmed that the Zune brand will be abandoned. The Times cites Microsoft spokesperson Melissa Stewart as stating:

...the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service.

In a way, it makes sense for Microsoft to use its best, most recognizable brand, Xbox, to promote its music products on Windows 8. In fact, considering that the Zune media player hardware is now discontinued, the writing has been on the wall for a while now. Though some of the Zune devices were well reviewed and loved by die-hard Zune fans, competing in the high-end MP3 plaer market that Apple invented was a no-go from the start. The only thing the Zune name can do for Microsoft now is remind customers about its failed portable media devices.

The Xbox branding, however popular it may be, is still very closely related to gaming at this point, which could confuse Windows 8 adopters this fall. It's clear that Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to be the media center around which all types of media consumption devices revolve. That might work as a roundabout way to truly compete with Apple in the music and entertainment markets, and could have been the long-term plan for the Xbox all along. However, Microsoft built the Xbox 360 brand around gaming, and it will have to continue to strongly support gamers if it hopes to compete with far less expensive media center devices such as the Apple TV and Roku HD.

(via The New York Times)

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