Microsoft hints at Zune rebrand, focuses on Xbox for entertainment – Fusion?

By Tom Warren, on 31st May 11 4:33 pm with 29 Comments

Microsoft teased E3 fans on Tuesday, reaffirming the company’s commitment to the Xbox platform.

“Xbox = entertainment and is core to our entertainment strategy,” said Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of corporate communications. “Xbox connects more people to online content and communities through the largest screen in the house than any other device,” he added.

Shaw outlined Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox in a blog posting trumpeting the Xbox’s massive reach in the past few years. “The vision for Xbox is straightforward,” says Shaw. “All of the entertainment you want. With the people you care about. Made easy.” The company points to ties with ESPN, Netflix and Hulu as evidence of Xbox’s entertainment strategy. Shaw also hints that Microsoft will market Xbox as an entertainment brand. “You’ll see Xbox marketed more as an entertainment brand this year,” he says. Shaw rounds of his blog post with a hint of Microsoft’s E3 announcements, “the Xbox home entertainment pot will be boiling over during a 90-minute event.”

Microsoft’s revelations of Xbox being marketed as its entertainment brand are telling. The company failed to mention Zune and could be planning to release a number of “Fusion” branded products as early as next week. The software giant has trademarked Fusion Vault, Fusion Genesis and Fusion Sentient and also owns xboxfusion.com. Microsoft is also working on “Ventura”, a set of services being developed by the company’s Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit. The services will focus on music and video discovery and consumption. “Ventura” also appears to run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud hosting. Little is known about “Ventura” and how it fits into the company’s Zune music and video services.

Zune has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Microsoft was forced to confirm it is not “killing” any Zune services after it was revealed that the company plans to rebrand Zune into Windows Live shortly. Microsoft has been suspiciously quiet around Zune and Zune services over the past few months. The software giant’s Zune Video service gained over 50% more market share in 2010 compared to 2009, thanks to an international launch of the Zune Marketplace. Microsoft made Zune Video available in October to additional regions including Europe, Asia and Australia. Despite the expansion, Microsoft’s Zune services aren’t widely known outside of the United States. Microsoft’s marketing teams have spent little time and money on promoting Zune and the focus appears to be solely on Windows Phone.

Microsoft also revealed some updated stats for Xbox 360 on Tuesday:

  • Microsoft has sold more than 53 million Xbox 360 conoles
  • 30 million Xbox LIVE members
  • 40% of Xbox activity is now non-game
  • Average of 30 hours of video consumption per month on Xbox
  • Anonymous

    personally I love the Zune name. its unique, its easy to remember and its short. It’ll be a sad day if the name changes. I’ll still call it zune though. 

    • FMH

      Me too. Zune sounds so cool.

    • FMH

      Me too. Zune sounds so cool.

    • Anonymous

      unless Microsoft has a bunch of idiots working on the Entertainmnent division the Zune name should stay and it will be idiotic to kill it. I have the Zune 80 and the Zune HD and been waiting for the Zune Next(whatever they call it). I think that Microsoft should stick with the Zune Interface of the Zune HD but more enhancement and compatibility with WP7 Apps. 

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      There is really no logical reason for them to kill the brand off.  Maybe it’s just because I’ve used Zune for so long now, but rebranding under Xbox just seems weird to me.  Xbox is a gaming system while Zune a digital entertainment services.  I honestly think it fits well with their other brands: Windows, Office, Windows Phone, Xbox, Zune, Bing.  It’s just another service like Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Hulu, Netflix, Last.fm, etc which are all over the Xbox 360 Dashboard.

    • Anonymous

      agree 100% that Zune is an awesome name, but let’s be honest.  The Xbox name is HUGE.  Microsoft wants to sell more content and the box name is a better vehicle than the Zune name.

    • Guest

      The name’s fine. Better than most MS ones. Unfortunately it has become synonymous with failure and is now most often used as a punchline.

    • Guest

      The name’s fine. Better than most MS ones. Unfortunately it has become synonymous with failure and is now most often used as a punchline.

  • Ronit Kumar

    If Windows Phone gets popular, then eventually its users are bound to discover and share about Zune IMO, also recently Bing had added a feature( US only feature to be precise) in which searching for song or artists would also source results from Zune! Zune as a software is getting popular IMO, not as a brand though! rebranding it might create confusions for customers!

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      I agree.  I have seen zero complaints about the Zune software itself.  Even one of my hardcore Mac (well ever since his MacBook died he’s been using a Windows 7 PC) users prefers it over iTunes.

  • Ronit Kumar

    If Windows Phone gets popular, then eventually its users are bound to discover and share about Zune IMO, also recently Bing had added a feature( US only feature to be precise) in which searching for song or artists would also source results from Zune! Zune as a software is getting popular IMO, not as a brand though! rebranding it might create confusions for customers!

  • Ronit Kumar

    And yeah it has a coool logo too ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/naifmhd Naif Mohamed

    zune is a very nice brand, its would be a bummer to see if zune gets replaced

  • http://twitter.com/JLancaster3 J Lancaster

    Ever since we cut out satellite tv, i’ve used my xbox every single day this month to watch shows and movies.  Its also got mediacenter extender built in, so I can record shows and watch live tv on it too.  It’s an awesome device.  I just wish there was a way for me to pay month like I am for the zune music to get the video service too.  I really hope that what ever is announced has to do with getting movies and tv shows for a fee each month.  If that were so, i’d get 2 xbox’s.  But then again if it’s tied to a live ID then there better be a way to have 2 xboxs access the same live account at the same time.  (is this already possible?)

  • http://twitter.com/JLancaster3 J Lancaster

    Ever since we cut out satellite tv, i’ve used my xbox every single day this month to watch shows and movies.  Its also got mediacenter extender built in, so I can record shows and watch live tv on it too.  It’s an awesome device.  I just wish there was a way for me to pay month like I am for the zune music to get the video service too.  I really hope that what ever is announced has to do with getting movies and tv shows for a fee each month.  If that were so, i’d get 2 xbox’s.  But then again if it’s tied to a live ID then there better be a way to have 2 xboxs access the same live account at the same time.  (is this already possible?)

  • Anonymous

    NOOOO!!!!!!!! Zune forever Zune….

    Its a cool brand, very cool…. Someone tell MS to not do that PLEASE!!???!?!

  • http://twitter.com/jimmyfal Jimmy Fallon

    Keep the Zune name. But can you even believe that someone at Hewlett Packard had the insane idea to brand their new printers that have the removable tablet in them a ZEEN? Who can I fire for that?

  • HenningK

    Zune isn’t bigger than it is because of the way it has been handled internationally. Plain and simple. Microsoft has become so US-focused it seems to have completely forgotten the rest of the world (save for the super-big in Europe – UK, France, Germany).

    No subtitles on movies for rent in any of the scandinavian countries, for example. Prices that are much higher than what other competitors charge. 

    Absolutely *NO* marketing.

    Zune marketplace for Windows Phone will launch without music and video support in most markets. Etc.

    • SebbeW

      + 1

  • Anonymous

    Change the backend to what ever you want to change it to. But KEEP THE NAME. I hope they don’t give it a windows live name…. I can’t stand windows live photo gallery, movie maker…ugh I cringe every time I have to say it. They are ok products but horrendous names. Make zune the default stand alone player on Windows (get rid of media player) and have that function as the entertainment brand across all MS products.

  • Hernan Lozano

    Zune is Cool.
    It is Misunderstood.
    It’s for the Misfits,
    The Rebels,
    The Troublemakers,
    The round Pegs in the square Holes.
    The Ones who see things differently, 
    and are NOT blind to true innovation
    in the misleading light shed by a
    fruit company.

    Please keep this movement alive Microsoft.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Mu1dbRZYo Triny D

    Ventura and Xbox music are both far better names than zune imo.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Mu1dbRZYo Triny D

    Ventura and Xbox music are both far better names than zune imo.

  • Anonymous

    I love my XBL Gold. I don’t have time to game online but I stream LAST.FM and watch MSNBC news highlights every day. I watch the ESPN stuff when I have time. The discounts on games and avatar stuff lone will almost pay for the yearly membership. I can’t wait for the new avatar Kinect update.

  • http://twitter.com/starksimon Stark

    I really hope that someone from MS is reading these comments. Zune is an awesome brand. Please don’t kill it. Please. Fusion sounds too generic. Windows Live *whatever* is retarded. Make a new Zune player (similar design as Zune HD,) with WP7 OS (app compatibility), and start pushing it all over the world, not just in the US. I’ll buy at leaste 3 devices. That’s a promise.

  • Fred Roberts

    I have a Zune HD but I don’t care what they call it. I just want them to promote it and sell it. If changing name to Xbox gets more users, do it. If you ask people on the street, they know what Xbox is not Zune. Most people would think you were saying Zoom or Xoom!!!

  • LWSJR

    Zune is unique.  Perhaps they should keep the name, but change the spelling to Xune?

  • http://www.appatic.com Avatar X

    Zune is a great brand. So far i have not found evidence of the  actual Zune Brand name being shutdown. Just that it is being moved around and shuffled into more Teams. But we will see.

  • http://parasvalecha.blogspot.com Paras Valecha

    Microsoft can do whatever they want but I just love the “Zune” name! Shouldn’t be completely killed! :(