Microsoft tried to launch the Zune media player as a way to compete with the popular iPod family. Despite Microsoft spending a ton of money on the products, the Zune never caught on and the final hardware version, the Zune HD, was retired in October 2011.
Robbie Bach was the man in charge of the Entertainment and Devices division at Microsoft when both the Zune and the Xbox business were started. Geekwire.com reports that during an address at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network event in Seattle today, Bach admitted that the Zune, which launched its first hardware product in 2006, should not have been made in the first place.
Bach is quoted as saying:
If I had hindsight, 20-20, and could do Zune over again, we would skip portable media players completely. We would go to what, at the time, was the Windows Mobile team and say we’re going to produce the coolest music service for your phones ever. The portable music market is gone and it was already leaving when we started. We just weren’t brave enough, honestly, and we ended up chasing Apple with a product that actually wasn’t a bad product, but it was still a chasing product, and there wasn’t a reason for somebody to say, oh, I have to go out and get that thing.
Bach also admitted that the marketing for the Zune was "very confused". Another problem with the Zune was that the music publishers wanted to work with Apple, not Microsoft. Bach said, "They just didn’t figure out that being dependent on Apple was bad for them."
Bach also talked about the biggest success while at Microsoft; the launch of the Xbox game console business. Bach said that Microsoft was able to make the original Xbox stand out from its competitors due to its more powerful hardware along with its Internet gaming features.
He also talked about the Xbox business' biggest failure, when Microsoft took a $1 billion write off due to the mass hardware failures of the first Xbox 360 units. Bach called that problem "the most painful thing in my life"
Bach left Microsoft in 2010 and has since joined the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Club of America and the U.S. Olympic Committee, along with the audio company Sonos.