Zune Is Anything But A Failure

News today in the tech blogs: Zune devices are no longer being sold.  To the more cynical and sarcastic, the running joke is “They never were.”  But in the famous words of movie lore: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”  And that is proven through the rise of the Metro UI.

To think way back to the first generation Zune, some tiny team in Microsoft came up with a completely different user interface design for browsing media files.  With the second generation of Zune, this design language was expanded upon: made bolder and more consistent.  With the ZuneHD, the UI added excitement and motion along with touch gestures.  Windows Phone 7 took that design concept and extended it way beyond media, applying its design guidelines to applications.  Finally, the upcoming Windows 8 takes the extensions of Windows Phone 7 and applies them to the desktop.

I think that bears repeating.  Windows 8 is based on Zune.  The Zune UI – Metro – has inspired a complete redesign of the smartphone UI and even the desktop UI.

To everyone who bought in to the Zune family, there must be some pride to see the evolution of the concepts started so many years ago.  Surely Apple devotees feel the same way when they bought in at the time Apple went monochromatic and all future products carried that look at feel.  Early iPod users must feel the same as each new “i” product comes out, strengthening the brand cohesion through a familiar prefix (despite all the products trying to capitalize on that identifying letter).

Say what you will about the Zune and its failed marketing, from the brown color that was supposed to be bold and fashionable, but was ridiculed as “looking like poop”, to the “Zune Guy” who was a poor representation of the target demographic.  The best element of the Zune devices – not the colors, not the styling, not the features,  the user interface – has survived and will continue evolving as a unique and permanent design style of Microsoft’s flagship product.

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