Patent reveals a never released Zune design

Back in April 2009, a group of workers over at Microsoft filed a patent for a music player which can only be related to the company's Zune brand. Upon inspection of the images, the design of which suggests it was purposed to compete with Apple's popular iPod Nano.

As Manan Kakkar was browsing through patent documents he came across a design of a Zune that never made it. While there is a slim chance another Zune could make it through the development process, the introduction of Windows Phone 7 has left many in doubt whether Microsoft's range of digital music players can go anywhere. The situation hasn't been particularly helped by conflicting information coming out of Microsoft and the closure of Pioneer Studios that was working on electronic consumer products.

While Microsoft launched several generations of Zune over the years, the company has struggled to get the Zune product released on a worldwide basis leaving only the United States and Canada consumers able to buy the digital music players. Those more desperate were able to buy them from selected websites which imported the music gadgets.

What is of particular interest is that Jonathan Harris who was co-founder of Pioneer Studios has his name amongst others in the patent. This was at a time during which the Zune HD was soon to be released where Microsoft stated that at least one other Zune player would be coming to the technology market. Since then though, news and developments have been focused around Zune as a brand for music and entertainment rather than that of a physical product.

Image Credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office

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21 Comments

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It's all about marketing, something Microsoft is terrible at. Look at the iPod, a locked down proprietary piece of junk compared to many other mp3 players yet that shiny Apple logo and their marketing skills put it on top of the world. The name Zune didn't help much either, but again Microsoft sucks at things like that. Remember their "squirting" music idea. Ugh...

mjedi7 said,
Windows ZUNE software used to suck, how is it now?

I dont know which software you used, but "Windows Zune Software" is one of the best music application i ever used.

simrat said,

I dont know which software you used, but "Windows Zune Software" is one of the best music application i ever used.

+1

The latest version is really awesome. They improved it a lot since the first version of the software was released.

Tsk, tsk, Microsoft. It's things like this that make me dislike the company sometimes for its lack of bringing its innovations to the market. Shame on the people who think that Microsoft is not innovative at all. Most of their concepts, products, and designs in the last 4 years have been truly innovative, it's just that (like someone above mentioned) they don't market their products well enough...

PlogCF said,
Tsk, tsk, Microsoft. It's things like this that make me dislike the company sometimes for its lack of bringing its innovations to the market. Shame on the people who think that Microsoft is not innovative at all. Most of their concepts, products, and designs in the last 4 years have been truly innovative, it's just that (like someone above mentioned) they don't market their products well enough...

Steve Ballmer. Money > Innovation. I love Microsoft, but this kind of news saddens me .

PlogCF said,
Tsk, tsk, Microsoft. It's things like this that make me dislike the company sometimes for its lack of bringing its innovations to the market. Shame on the people who think that Microsoft is not innovative at all. Most of their concepts, products, and designs in the last 4 years have been truly innovative, it's just that (like someone above mentioned) they don't market their products well enough...

so much r&d down the drain... because it was seemingly unprofitable. i'd say bad judgement than money > innovation, because all companies exist to make money.

resol612 said,

so much r&d down the drain... because it was seemingly unprofitable. i'd say bad judgement than money > innovation, because all companies exist to make money.


The worst part about it is that some of these products that never see the light of day would actually be popular.

PlogCF said,

The worst part about it is that some of these products that never see the light of day would actually be popular.

ya but some of them could be flops.. the more flops you have the greater the chance the next product will be a flop.. They had to cancel the line and pump a ton of money into one thing .. WP7..

"Those more desperate were able to buy them from selected websites which imported the music gadgets."
Amazon.com
Ship to the uk and the delivery took 4 days!

While there is a slim chance another Zune could make it through the development process, the introduction of Windows Phone 7 has left many in doubt whether Microsoft's range of digital music players can go anywhere.

Because? From what I've read iPod sales have never been higher even after Apple released the iPhone.

And this was before the iPod nano took on its existing form. Once again, Microsoft had something and let it slip through its hands.

It's seriously a shame because everyone gets to point at Microsoft and claim "copy-cat" or other such statements, when Microsoft legitimately does come up with many things first--they are just slower to get to market.

Hopefully they can continue with their success from Windows 7, the awesome pace that WP7 Mango appears to be moving at (assuming the rumors of about-a-month release to carriers for testing), and Kinect. Microsoft has a different glow to it these days, and it's bright days as long as they can keep it up.

pickypg said,
And this was before the iPod nano took on its existing form. Once again, Microsoft had something and let it slip through its hands.

It's seriously a shame because everyone gets to point at Microsoft and claim "copy-cat" or other such statements, when Microsoft legitimately does come up with many things first--they are just slower to get to market.

Hopefully they can continue with their success from Windows 7, the awesome pace that WP7 Mango appears to be moving at (assuming the rumors of about-a-month release to carriers for testing), and Kinect. Microsoft has a different glow to it these days, and it's bright days as long as they can keep it up.


+1.
Shame this didn't make it out. If it did, it still probably would not have been marketed well like the ZuneHD

pickypg said,
And this was before the iPod nano took on its existing form. Once again, Microsoft had something and let it slip through its hands.

It's seriously a shame because everyone gets to point at Microsoft and claim "copy-cat" or other such statements, when Microsoft legitimately does come up with many things first--they are just slower to get to market.

Hopefully they can continue with their success from Windows 7, the awesome pace that WP7 Mango appears to be moving at (assuming the rumors of about-a-month release to carriers for testing), and Kinect. Microsoft has a different glow to it these days, and it's bright days as long as they can keep it up.

The only real similarity I see in this design and the current iPod nano is that the screen is small and square shaped. Since the Microsoft design doesn't show an interface, the only thing to really go by are what appear to be physical buttons for play/skip/etc which the nano doesn't have. Maybe everyone should just calm down and stop jumping to conclusions.

pickypg said,
And this was before the iPod nano took on its existing form. Once again, Microsoft had something and let it slip through its hands.

It's seriously a shame because everyone gets to point at Microsoft and claim "copy-cat" or other such statements, when Microsoft legitimately does come up with many things first--they are just slower to get to market.

Hopefully they can continue with their success from Windows 7, the awesome pace that WP7 Mango appears to be moving at (assuming the rumors of about-a-month release to carriers for testing), and Kinect. Microsoft has a different glow to it these days, and it's bright days as long as they can keep it up.

slip through its hands? half of the people in the market for an MP3 player doesn't even know what a Zune is.

I think the ipod market is unbreachable

Quick Shot said,
slip through its hands? half of the people in the market for an MP3 player doesn't even know what a Zune is.
That's pretty much my point. They have done an awful job marketing the Zune (actually, they have done an awful job marketing just about everything; they need to start over from marketing and probably get all-new people). I firmly believe that had they done so, WP7 would actually be doing pretty well right now. People would be used to its interface and probably excited about it more than I am with Mango's upcoming release (tempered by the fact that existing Samsung Focus' don't work with my car's Bluetooth).

As it stands, they simply pushed out some awesome hardware--at the time--with some solid software that they simply let idle (Zune HD). I own one. It's awesome. Way better than my iPod touch. And now it's nearly two years old. I wouldn't tell anyone to buy one now simply because there is practically no way future software versions will support them (assuming they really every have a successor to the Zune HD, which I imagine will be a phoneless WP7-based decided analogous to the iPod touch).

Quick Shot said,

slip through its hands? half of the people in the market for an MP3 player doesn't even know what a Zune is.

I think the ipod market is unbreachable

the mp3 player market is actually shrinking so it was actually a smart move to get out of it when they did.. Phones are taking the place of MP3 players..