Robbie Bach: Zune was a Mistake

Former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach was involved in the company’s failed Zune portable media player, and he thinks the project was a mistake. Instead, he’d push for a music service if he could go back in time and try again.

Microsoft tried, and failed, to compete with the iPodMicrosoft tried, and failed, to compete with the iPod

Mr. Bach shared his thoughts on the Zune at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, according to GeekWire. He told attendees,

If I had hindsight, 20-20, and could do Zune over again, we would skip portable media players completely. We would go to what, at the time, was the Windows Mobile team and say we’re going to produce the coolest music service for your phones ever. The portable music market is gone and it was already leaving when we started. We just weren’t brave enough, honestly, and we ended up chasing Apple with a product that actually wasn’t a bad product, but it was still a chasing product, and there wasn’t a reason for somebody to say, oh, I have to go out and get that thing.

Microsoft had hoped to dethrone Apple’s iPod with the Zune, although never succeeded in taking any marketshare from the Cupertino company. Instead, Zune chipped away at the other iPod competitors — companies that were relying on Microsoft as a partner in their fight to take on the iPod.

Apple is still the reigning king in the portable media player market with its iPod, iPhone and iPad product lines. Microsoft, however, is a top player in the game console market with its Xbox.

“On the Zune side, and this is as much my fault as anybody’s, I think our marketing message was very confused,” Mr. Bach said. “I don’t think people walked away saying, this is what Zune is and this is why it’s different. This is why I have to have it.”