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The Future of Zune…Needs to Have Windows Phone Front and Center

It’s been recently made public that the Zune HD will be the last iteration of Zune hardware.  This leaves Zune to be a purely software and based product.  David feels that there is potential for Microsoft to spread Zune love to other mobile platforms like Android and iOS.  While I think it’s possible, I think it would be a huge mistake for Microsoft if they simply made a music app.  Why?  Simple, Microsoft offers a wide array of products and services that no other mobile company can.  Zune is merely an extension of the Microsoft brand.  As such, Zune should be used to entice and encourage consumers to buy into more Microsoft products and services and not just expand Zune user.

Zune, honestly offers a great media experience, and I prefer it over that of iTunes(both on the phone and computer). I think it would greatly benefit Microsoft to make Zune apps for all other major mobile platforms, with one caveat. Microsoft should either deny access to ZunePass or give Windows Phone and Zune owners a “preferred user” discount. Personally, I think the latter option is better for multiple reasons.  ZunePass is simply a great service.  Unlimited downloads with DRM and 10 without DRM every month for just $15 is a pretty sweet deal. Songs average $1 a pop, so you’re really only paying $5 extra for unlimited downloads on top of your $10 worth of purchases.  And if you subscribe for a whole year, you get 2 months for free.  Giving more people access will  immediately increase profits from ZunePass.  And if you offer a discount to Windows Phone users, you will encourage people to convert to Windows Phone when it’s time for them to upgrade phones for long term gains and added growth in Windows Phone market share. Everyone wins.

However, if the Zune app will be the same across all platforms without any benefit to Windows Phone users, Microsoft really shouldn’t release it.  They will be spending money developing software to enhance competitor ecosystems without any significant boost to their own profits other than directly through Zune song and ZunePass sales.  There will be no increased loyalty to Microsoft products and some people who chose or will choose Windows Phone because of Zune and ZunePass will migrate to other OSs because that will be another feature of for competing OSs.  I hate locked down ecosystems, but if Microsoft wants a leg up in this mobile tech war, they need to think about long-term strategies for capturing more market share. And sharing one of the few great exclusives they have left with their competitors isn’t the way to go.