There Will Probably Be No Zune HD2

The evidence is mounting against the release of a Zune HD2 from Microsoft this year.

Microsoft hasn’t announced either way whether there will be a new Zune HD. The only official public statement from Microsoft came from an interview Zune Project Manager Terry Farrell did with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley back in September 2009, where he confirmed that “there will be ‘at least one more generation of Zune media players’”.

Zune and other Microsoft bloggers have also speculated that there will be another Zune HD based on the fact that XNA 4.0 does not support the Zune HD, instead opting for Windows Phone 7 to build Xbox Live-aware games. They have deduced that there will be a future Zune coming in late 2010 that will have the same games and apps as Windows Phone 7. (Zuneboard and ZDNet)

However, Microsoft’s recent actions seem to indicate otherwise. The most telling evidence against the existence of a Zune HD2 is the 64GB Zune HD that went on sale. Back when Microsoft first announced and released the higher-capacity player on Zune Originals, many in the Zune community were left perplexed as to why Microsoft would release an update to their player when the Zune HD2 would be coming out later in the year. Now, Microsoft has announced via their Zune Insider podcast that the 64GB player will be released on Amazon.com on August 19th.

It was one thing to release a 64GB Zune HD back in April, but to release it on Amazon.com in late August, a date that is very close to what has historically been the release date for updated Zune players, indicates that Microsoft may have abandoned development for an update to the Zune HD. It does not make sense to make a $350 old-generation player available one month before you release a new generation player. Furthermore, if Microsoft was indeed releasing a new Zune HD this year, they would need to make an announcement sometime this summer in order to avoid leaks such as the mandatory FCC test reports. If that happened, Microsoft would be in a difficult situation defending its Amazon.com release. FYI: the first Zune HD was officially confirmed on 26 May of last year; they announced it earlier than usual that year because it had been leaked a month before on Engadget and Twitter .

One more thing to think about: Microsoft is committed to bringing a quality release for Windows Phone 7 this year, so they are bringing in people from different teams all over the company to make that happen. It is my guess that they have pulled in the Zune hardware team to help the phone manufacturers (HTC, LG, Samsung, etc.) build quality music phones, instead of making a device which has not sold well in the market. In other words, the Zune hardware team may have been told to abandon development for the Zune HD2 and focus their efforts on the higher-profile release of Windows Phone 7.

Like most information about Zune HD2 at this point, please take all of this with a grain of salt as it’s just speculation on the part of yours truly. Believe me, there would be nothing that would make me happier than the continuation of the Zune hardware line, but Microsoft’s actions so far seem to indicate otherwise. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments as to whether you agree or disagree. I would be thrilled to be proven wrong, but I am confident I am right.

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