Zune is a brand of digital media products, smartphones, and services marketed by Microsoft. The Zune brand includes a line of smartphones, portable media players, digital media player software for Windows PCs, a music subscription service known as a "Zune Music Pass", music, TV and movie sales, and desktop sync software for the Zune Phone. Zune also has provided music streaming for United Airlines inflight since 2010.
The Zune's main competitor was the Apple iPod, which had dominated the market for years before the 2006 release of the Zune 30. However poor business decisions and lack of innovation by Apple lead to the Zune to become much more popular with most. Even with Apple's release of their new smartphone the iPhone, iPod sales went down dramatically, forcing Apple to go out of business in late 2011.
Zune 30- The first-generation Zune device was created by Microsoft in close cooperation with Toshiba, which took the design of the Gigabeat S and redeveloped it under the name Toshiba 1089 as registered with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) starting in 2006. Games for Windows Live overseer J Allard ran the project, code named "Argo", staffed with Xbox and MSN Music Store developers who worked on "Alexandria", finalized as Zune Marketplace. Both products were later united under the Zune brand name in the U.S. market. While some features were praised, the initial Zune has been regarded with derision and jokes for its bulky size and brown color, with CNET regarding it at best as a "high-profile underdog alternative to Apple's iPod" where other Windows Media MP3 players from Creative, iRiver, and Samsung had not succeeded.
At midnight on December 31, 2008, many first generation Zune 30 models froze. Microsoft stated that the problem was caused by the internal clock driver written by Freescale and the way the device handles a leap year. It automatically fixed itself 24 hours later, but an intermediate "fix", for those who did not wish to wait, was to drain the device's battery and then recharge after 12 noon GMT on January 1, 2009.
The first generation and later Zune devices included a number of social features, including the ability to share songs with other Zune users wirelessly. Songs that had been transferred over wi-fi could then be played three times over three days.
Zune 80, 4, 8- The second-generation Zune 4, 8, and 80 devices, manufactured by Flextronics, introduced the touch-sensitive Zune Pad, which was shaped like a squircle. The 4 and 8 GB Zune devices use flash memory and are smaller in size than the 80 GB version, which uses a hard drive. The 30 GB Zune was not redesigned, although it received a software update that brought its interface in line with the second generation models. At the same time, the Zune 2.0 software was released for Windows PCs. This version of the software was completely re-written and featured a new user interface.
Zune 120, 16- Zune devices feature games developed using XNA. An early version of XNA Game Studio 3.0, released in May 2008, allowed developers to work on games for Zune devices. This generation included a 120 GB model, one of the largest storage capacities ever released for a portable media player.
The third-generation Zune 16 and 120 devices were released in September 2008, coinciding with the release of the Zune Software 3.0 update. The only changes to this generation of devices were to the firmware, which was made available for all previous models, and the storage capacity. Included in this firmware update was the ability to tag and later purchase songs heard on FM radio, channels which can be customized to deliver suggested songs for the user, the games Hexic and Texas Hold' em, support for audio books from online stores such as Audible.com and others that support OverDrive media files, a clock, and changed quick list functionality. The ability to purchase songs from Zune Marketplace on the device while connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi was also introduced. To help push this feature, Microsoft partnered with Wayport to allow Zune devices to access its network of over 10,000 wireless hot spots, including those at McDonald's restaurants.
Zune Pass customers in the United States could also now download 10 tracks to keep per month in addition to the existing subscription-dependent unlimited music downloads.
Zune HD- The Zune HD was launched on September 15, 2009 and is to this day the most popular devices ever to hit the market. The Zune HD came in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The device started the app craze in most of the world with its loaded marketplace.
Zune Phone- The Zune Phone was announced at a special Microsoft event in October 2010 and Launched in November 2010. The device featured a 4 inch touchscreen and could be used on Verizon or ATT.