If you’ve seen Guardians of The Galaxy 2, you may have seen the end seen, when Quill gets a “Zune” to replace the Walkman is father/god/main villain smashed to bits. A lot of you, myself included, probably wondered “What’s a Zune?” 

Well, even though Kraglin may have said “it’s what everyone on Earth is listening to now”, or something along the lines of that, it wasn’t some product placement. The Zune lived from 2006-2015, before Microsoft killed it off. But in some ways, it was quite ahead of its time.

For example, the Zune had a colour screen, that could record and play videos at 240p. While this may seem quite boring and outdated now, it was quite revolutionary in 2006. It could also download songs and video via wifi connectivity, a feature the iPod did not have. The Zune had superior audio and video quality. You could even share songs and play multiplayer games, yet more features the iPod did not have. The iPod with as many features as the Zune did not even appear until 2009, with the introduction of the iPod Touch. Even today, the Zune could keep up with some of the iPod touches. Even the design has aged well. The Zune’s OS could easily pass for one designed recently. For reference, here is a comparison between Zunes and their iPod equivalents.

 

zunehd_buttons
Zune HD (2009)
microsoft-zune-biz-2015-billboard-650
Zune 120GB (2006)
originalzune
Original Zune (2006)
ipod-mini-1st-gen
iPod 4th Gen (2006)
ipod_touch_3rdgen-783088
iPod Touch 1st Gen (2009)

Look at these, and tell me which design has aged better.

With so many innovative features and a nice design, why was the Zune a commercial failure?

 

Well, only a few months after the Zune’s release, Apple raised the bar with the Gen5 iPod and a few years later, the iPhone and iPod touch. With that, Microsoft just gave up hope, and all but stopped innovating on the Zune. Pretty soon, the Zune became obsolete, and Microsoft killed it. But what if they hadn’t gave up? What if the Zune had became the iPod-slayer Microsoft had intended it to be?

The Zune, like many other great products, was a victim of bad timing. With it’s release just before the new iPod, and for the Zune HD, Just before the iPod Touch, it had a terrible launch time. If they had launched it earlier, Zune would’ve had a larger market share, prompting Executives to let them innovate the Zune further. Or if they had done it later, they’d have more time to improve the Zune.

The Zune’s legacy, aside from being a joke in the second Guardians of The Galaxy movie, is one big What If. And What If products are alwasy the most interesting.

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