The Simpsons poke fun at Microsoft's Zune

During its annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode last night, The Simpsons took an opportunity to poke fun at Microsoft's most disparaged product, the Zune.

In the episode, which is not currently available online, a black hole had formed in the Simpsons household, and the family had chosen to get rid of its garbage by throwing it in the black hole. The black hole continued to grow until all the residents of Springfield were sucked in, where they were then met by aliens on another planet.

At the end of the episode, the aliens stated the garbage deposited by the Simpsons and other Springfield residents had become favorites on their planet. A banana peel, for instance, was a delicacy. The aliens then said "the most incredible device ever made" was the Zune and began chanting the product's name.

Last night's episode is perhaps a good example of why Microsoft has chosen to kill the Zune brand and replace it with Xbox Music. Despite being well-received by critics, Microsoft's portable music players were unable to gain a foothold with consumers, as they were considered to be iPod knockoffs.

Episodes of The Simpsons are not available on Hulu until eight days after viewing.

Image via Springfield Penitentiary

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Angry Birds Star Wars coming on November 8th

Next Story

Windows 8 support added to Kinect for Windows SDK

50 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

awesome simpsons episode.
and zinging the zune makes it better - family guy did it too in a previous episode, iirc.

carry on being butthurt

The Simpsons have Apple product placement in cartoon form in every single episode. Bart found a way to use an iPhone in the previous episode, and every episode of the last season featured something similar. Now they go out of their way to directly bash competitors. Apple product placement is ruining TV and movies. It's excessive.

I still wish I had my Zune HD. It just somehow ended up missing one day during the summer at my university (I think I dropped it somehow) and after looking around for hours I gave up. I still need to check with campus PD for some hope.

I owned three ipods that lasted me about a year each and then broke before I decided to give Zune HD a try. I still have the Zune and works perfectly after 4 years. It is still the best music listening device and the best music discovery experience available. The UI was the father of Windows Phone. The hardware's industrial design still looks modern and the sound is louder and better than most other players or phones. Nowadays my Windows Phone takes most of my music listening tasks, just because I have it already in my pocket.
Microsoft did not put a lot of efforts to market Zune. It was a learning experience and a platform for Zune services, and just like Apple, they realized that the future of mp3 players was to be inside a smartphone, not separate.
Today the legacy of the Zune brand is the Metro UI we have in WP, Windows 8 and Xbox. Even the new Office uses the same UI that Zune Software had for years. Saying that Zune was a failure is like saying that a fetus is a failure. Zune served its purpose and I'm glad all those ipods broke and I tried Zune HD.

wotsit said,
Shouldn't Treehouse of Horror be on at Halloween?

yeah my first thought
just watched some old ones this Sunday (2008 for example) and it wasn't that funny; American Dad or Family Guy are way more corrosive.

Not the first time the Zune has been poked fun of. Family Guy did an episode where Bill Gates was at the Pewterschmidt's party, and had his Zune knocked out of his hands and told to buy an iPod.

mattm591 said,
Not the first time the Zune has been poked fun of. Family Guy did an episode where Bill Gates was at the Pewterschmidt's party, and had his Zune knocked out of his hands and told to buy an iPod.

And it wasn't just Microsoft's lack of marketing. They never released a Zune here in The Netherlands but even here a newsstation reported on it. Because they didn't have firsthand experience with the device they decided to show a Fox News segment on it.

In this segment a barbie doll 'journalist' was holding it next to her iPod and said how big, heavy and ugly the Zune was in comparison. She followed this by saying something about how you'd be a fool to buy it. That was on day 1, add that Microsoft wasn't willing to invest in a promotion campaign and its clear the Zune never had a chance.

tytytucke said,
I've tried every solution available (again and again).
I will burry it in my back yard. RIP Zune HD

Awww....Well that sucks....

I absolutely love my Zune, started off with the original, upgraded to the 80, 120 and finally the HD. I still get such a good battery life out of them so they are brilliant for travelling.

I have never used any of the apps on it (in fact I don't have any installed) as I have these on my phone.

It is such a shame they never pushed it how it should have been marketed.

Yea, and I hear the aliens love that the Simpsons has so many seasons and continues to be as funny as ever, and hopes it never gets cancelled.

Who buys a $100 device and then throw it in the trash, and who is still buying Zunes so the episode even makes sense?

brianshapiro said,
Yea, and I hear the aliens love that the Simpsons has so many seasons and continues to be as funny as ever, and hopes it never gets cancelled.

Who buys a $100 device and then throw it in the trash, and who is still buying Zunes so the episode even makes sense?


Last season was almost the last season for The Simpsons due to costs, all voice-actors agreed on lowering their salaries by 25% or something IIRC to keep the show going!
But I'm afraid its end is coming

brianshapiro said,

Who buys a $100 device and then throw it in the trash, and who is still buying Zunes so the episode even makes sense?

It's a cartoon ¬¬.... and it's not like all previous Zunes banished from earth.....

Shadowzz said,

Last season was almost the last season for The Simpsons due to costs, all voice-actors agreed on lowering their salaries by 25% or something IIRC to keep the show going!
But I'm afraid its end is coming

They'll simply price themselves out of jobs.

neonspark said,
all I can say is, I've loving the android revolution and how it is slowly killing the ipod.

It's a shame that so many people seem to not mind an ugly software design compared to a pretty nice-looking one I do hope either Apple or Microsoft's mobile operating system becomes more successful than Android.

Calum said,

It's a shame that so many people seem to not mind an ugly software design compared to a pretty nice-looking one I do hope either Apple or Microsoft's mobile operating system becomes more successful than Android.

I think Android 4.0 actually looks really nice. And I've used iOS before.

jamesyfx said,

I think Android 4.0 actually looks really nice. And I've used iOS before.

That's probably because Android 4.0 took many design cues from WP7.

jamesyfx said,

I think Android 4.0 actually looks really nice. And I've used iOS before.


I don't think it looks quite as nice as Windows Phone or iOS yet, many (if not most) of the apps still don't follow the guidelines, and the overall design of Android 4.x appears to not follow the same design philosophy as some other Google products. The vast majority of WP and iOS apps (pretty much all that I've seen) follow the guidelines, and both WP and iOS follow the same design philosophies as the companies' other products.

Calum said,

It's a shame that so many people seem to not mind an ugly software design compared to a pretty nice-looking one I do hope either Apple or Microsoft's mobile operating system becomes more successful than Android.
If you think Android is ugly then you're doing it wrong. Android's popularity with tech enthusiasts is largely due to customization. Most out-of-the-box Android installs (aside from the vanilla Android in the Nexus devices) is butt-ugly, I'll give you that. That's because they've been stepped all over by the phone manufacturer and the service provider. However, it is quite simple to download one of many custom launchers and begin to tweak Android per your individual tastes. That's not even taking rooting and complete custom mods into consideration. Once you go down that road, the possibilities on the Android platform are seemingly endless.

iOS will always look like iOS. WP will always look like WP. You can have two identical Android devices that look and function completely different from each other. That is why I like it.

Dean Wagner said,
If you think Android is ugly then you're doing it wrong. Android's popularity with tech enthusiasts is largely due to customization. Most out-of-the-box Android installs (aside from the vanilla Android in the Nexus devices) is butt-ugly, I'll give you that. That's because they've been stepped all over by the phone manufacturer and the service provider. However, it is quite simple to download one of many custom launchers and begin to tweak Android per your individual tastes. That's not even taking rooting and complete custom mods into consideration. Once you go down that road, the possibilities on the Android platform are seemingly endless.

iOS will always look like iOS. WP will always look like WP. You can have two identical Android devices that look and function completely different from each other. That is why I like it.


Sorry, I wrote quite a long comment, but because I used an em-dash (and there's a bug in Neowin), the entire comment vanished after I posted it -.-

It basically said: That's actually one of the my gripes with Android. I much prefer a company's products to all follow the same design philosophy, for all users, because of how high I value consistency. I know many people will disagree and value customisation, but I don't currently like the idea of a company's products following a different design philosophy, depending on who's using the product. The consistency and lack of customisation are two reasons I like Windows Phone and iOS.

Edited by Calum, Oct 8 2012, 10:06pm :

Second-most disparaged. The few people who own(ed) Zune devices tend to speak well of them.

Kin, on the other hand, I don't think has ever been described using kind words.

"Despite being well-received by critics, Microsoft's portable music players were unable to gain a foothold with consumers, as they were considered to be iPod knockoffs"

Care to explain why Zune was considered an Apple knockoff? The Zune from its first iteration was nowhere near being an Ipod knockoff and the Zune Hd was beyond the ipod as a far superior device to the ipod. The reason Zune failed was because Microsoft failed to advertise it properly. Zune is still a better device as a music player than any ipod version on the market, would they have had persue it further the Zune would have reached higher market that it got. Another reason and its has to do with Marketing was that when people used to go to for example best buy people were unable to test the device because it was not functioning or not setup properly. On the contrary to Apple, all ipods were functional and display a advert video that captured the consumers attention. It amazes me that companies rarely pay attention to these minor but very important details.

nickcruz said,
"Despite being well-received by critics, Microsoft's portable music players were unable to gain a foothold with consumers, as they were considered to be iPod knockoffs"

Care to explain why Zune was considered an Apple knockoff? The Zune from its first iteration was nowhere near being an Ipod knockoff and the Zune Hd was beyond the ipod as a far superior device to the ipod. The reason Zune failed was because Microsoft failed to advertise it properly. Zune is still a better device as a music player than any ipod version on the market, would they have had persue it further the Zune would have reached higher market that it got. Another reason and its has to do with Marketing was that when people used to go to for example best buy people were unable to test the device because it was not functioning or not setup properly. On the contrary to Apple, all ipods were functional and display a advert video that captured the consumers attention. It amazes me that companies rarely pay attention to these minor but very important details.


I wasn't calling it an iPod knockoff, I was saying that was the perception by consumers.

https://www.google.com/search?...f&oq=Zune+iPod+Knockoff

To be fair the Aliens loved it and rightfully so.

Just one of those things MS sent out to die. I imported one and probably the best bit of hardware I've ever owned, still kicking with no problems. Hardware design was great, can't wait for Microsoft to make a Windows Phone

WooHoo!!! said,
To be fair the Aliens loved it and rightfully so.

Just one of those things MS sent out to die. I imported one and probably the best bit of hardware I've ever owned, still kicking with no problems. Hardware design was great, can't wait for Microsoft to make a Windows Phone

It isn't just Zune. Before Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 I was totally annoyed by Microsoft and I used to joke that they could better write off most of the company and rename themselves to Microhard. Because at that point the only Microsoft products that I really liked were my mouse, keyboard and webcam.

When I buy computer hardware I usually go for Microsoft because of the great quality/price relationship. Which is why I'm also looking forward to owning a Surface PC. A Windows Phone by Microsoft would also be most welcome.

In the UK with a Zune and got to say, I love it ! Got it off Ebay for £50 a couple of years back and it's been really reliable and battery holds charge like it was new. Shame it was put to bed really.

jamieakers said,
In the UK with a Zune and got to say, I love it ! Got it off Ebay for £50 a couple of years back and it's been really reliable and battery holds charge like it was new. Shame it was put to bed really.

That was my experience with it, too (I'm also from the UK). I still use my Zune HD every day, and I've had it since it came out in October 2009. I'm expecting to have no use for it by the end of this month, when I get my iPhone, though, as I'll be on a contract with unlimited data and no fair usage policy, so I'll be using Spotify for all of my music listening

I remember when I saw a Zune when I was in America a number of years back (I've never seen them anywhere else).

I think if they had been released now with a better platform they may have been better received. Also better marketing.

If they'd release it not only in US markets basically, it might've had a fighting chance vs the iPod and Walkman. I bought a Walkman at the time since it was 1/3rd the price of a similar iPod.

jamesyfx said,
I remember when I saw a Zune when I was in America a number of years back (I've never seen them anywhere else).

I think if they had been released now with a better platform they may have been better received. Also better marketing.


nowdays dedicated portable players popularity is in decline with smartphones (and even some feature phones) including it's functionality

I imported both the original "brick" (30gb) that was basically a rebadged Toshiba product in every way, and the 2nd gen 80gb with the Squircle to the UK.
Still have the 80gb, use it every so often. They're really excellent devices -- I remember in gen 2 they removed the equalizer because pushing the audio through the EQ chip, even with it off, caused distortion, and they shortened the pathways from storage to headphones to reduce interference. All because they shipped it with an actually good pair of headphones (anyone else used the Zune branded in ear headphones?) while the iPods still had Apples tinny pieces of crud.
I love my Zune. Whenever it's made fun of on TV I get all warm and fuzzy.

WalterEgo404 said,
You can watch the Simpsons on Hulu Plus 1 day after it airs as long as you verify you pay for Cable.

We Europeans don't have Hulu! And this show wont be aired for another year at the least!
Ah well, that's the life of a pirate! Arrrr

Shadowzz said,

We Europeans don't have Hulu! And this show wont be aired for another year at the least!
Ah well, that's the life of a pirate! Arrrr

Are you serious? I didn't know that was the reality of it Why do you have to wait so long to watch the show if you do not pirate?
I was going to say if you want to watch Hulu, you can try using Hotspot Shield and going to Hulu.

g0ld1e said,

Are you serious? I didn't know that was the reality of it Why do you have to wait so long to watch the show if you do not pirate?
I was going to say if you want to watch Hulu, you can try using Hotspot Shield and going to Hulu.


Just the way it is, it usually takes a year, or at the very least half a year before any US TV show to show up on TV here (UK and Germany might have it a bit better I guess). Why? You'd have to ask the media industry. I guess they worry European TV channels will compete with them or be a great source for piracy to start or something.
At this point due to the wait, having to find out when a show does end up here, finding what channel it'll be on and ads I've kind of given up on TV, I just download most of the shows I want to see, currently that might not be from legal sources but all that's needed to get my money is to let iTunes or similar sell me the TV shows. I heard Netflix was coming to several more countries in Europe but I doubt they'll have US availability here anyway...

HD7Guy said,
"long as you verify you pay for Cable." and there in a nut shell is the problem with Hulu+.

Oh yea, nothing beats having to pay to watch something you already paid to be able to watch huh?

HD7Guy said,
"long as you verify you pay for Cable." and there in a nut shell is the problem with Hulu+.

NO! That's only if you want Fox programming the next day. Otherwise, you wait a week.

Leonick said,

Just the way it is, it usually takes a year, or at the very least half a year before any US TV show to show up on TV here (UK and Germany might have it a bit better I guess). Why? You'd have to ask the media industry. I guess they worry European TV channels will compete with them or be a great source for piracy to start or something.
At this point due to the wait, having to find out when a show does end up here, finding what channel it'll be on and ads I've kind of given up on TV, I just download most of the shows I want to see, currently that might not be from legal sources but all that's needed to get my money is to let iTunes or similar sell me the TV shows. I heard Netflix was coming to several more countries in Europe but I doubt they'll have US availability here anyway...


Oh yea, nothing beats having to pay to watch something you already paid to be able to watch huh?

Wow. That's stupid. Now I see why people hate the 'US only' stuff. I live in Canada and I get mostly everything I think, but if I were you, I'd pirate all day long.

g0ld1e said,

Wow. That's stupid. Now I see why people hate the 'US only' stuff. I live in Canada and I get mostly everything I think, but if I were you, I'd pirate all day long.

Not only that but it happens alot that we get movies and tech products very late or not at all (Zune wasn't released in my country what so ever); the media industry screws the Europeans and the rest of the world by not releasing all the movies at the same time in the world; sometimes the time difference can be more than a year (i've bought DVDs of a movie when it wasn't even released to the cinema).

g0ld1e said,

Wow. That's stupid. Now I see why people hate the 'US only' stuff. I live in Canada and I get mostly everything I think, but if I were you, I'd pirate all day long.

You get mostly everything on US TV channels your cable provider carry. Mine carry Fox, ABC, NBC, A&E, CBS. Scy-fy shows are provided by Space TV.

But i do not have AMC. And most of the good shows are provided by AMC. As far as i know you can't watch AMC shows online from Canada.