"The Zune is finally dead," various media outlets are reporting, on new information from Bloomberg that Microsoft will no longer create Zune hardware devices. If true, Microsoft's quest to unseat the iPod is over, as the company instead focuses on bolstering Windows Phone 7 in the face of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android.
A Microsoft spokesperson told me "We have nothing to announce about another Zune device," after I asked whether the Zune-is-dead reports are true. This response, while not a confirmation of Microsoft's decision, fits with what is being reported. The story is that Microsoft will continue to sell existing versions of the Zune but not make new ones. Zune software will live on as part of other hardware devices.
The statement I received from Microsoft focuses on Zune's potential as a software platform. "We ... have introduced Zune HD to Canada via Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America," the Microsoft statement says. "We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms."
The Zune launched in 2006, and went through several generations including a touch-screen device released in 2009. You can still purchase them at Amazon, Best Buy and other places. If you're one of the few people on Earth who still want a Zune, make sure to get one before supplies run out.