Luke Winkie of The Verge wrote about Microsoft’s Zune and its fandom keeping the MP3 player alive, nearly a decade after Microsoft killed it.
It was weird to own a Zune in 2005. It is even weirder to own a Zune in 2021 — let alone 16 of them. And yet, 27-year-old Conner Woods proudly shows off his lineup on a kitchen table. They come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes, and each can be identified by that telltale black plastic D-pad just below the screen. He owns the entire scope of the brief Zune lineup — from the svelte Zune 4 to the chunky Zune HD — and among the microscopic community of people who still adore Microsoft’s much-derided MP3 player, no collection of dead tech could possibly be more enviable.
Microsoft launched its Zune line of portable media players in 2006*, selling four generations of players before being discontinued in 2011. Models sold for between $149.99 and $349.99 with varying storage capacity (4GB on the Zune 4 to 120GB on the Zune 120). Unfortunately, it was up against the iPod and couldn’t compete.
But that hasn’t stopped fans from keeping the Zune living amongst themselves. For example, the r/Zune subreddit has nearly 5,000 subscribers.
There has been absolutely no news for Zune-heads since 2011 when Microsoft firmly announced that it was moving on from the MP3 sector indefinitely. And so, most of the posts on the subreddit radiate with a strong wistful ennui in lieu of any firmware updates on the horizon. “My current collection,” writes one poster, laying out their four Zunes on a chessboard, Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” cued up on the one in the middle.
I owned non-brand MP3 players and then iPod classics (still have one—it’s my fourth I believe) but I liked the look of the Zune. It’s nice to see fans can still enjoy the device.
* – (despite the quote, “it was weird to own a Zune in 2005.”)
(Featured image by Conner Woods)