Is Zune’s future in danger?

When Microsoft announced the strategic partnership with Nokia last week, they also talked about the brands that both companies are going to share. It was remarkable that Zune is not one of them.

On the presentation slides, you could read known brands like Windows Live, Windows 7, Xbox, Bing and Office. However, according to the Microsoft expert Paul Thurrott, Zune wasn’t left out coincidentally. According to this idea, the offers marketed under the “Zune” brand will get transitioned to Windows Live.

My sources tell me that the Zune brand is on the way out and that all Zune products and services will be moved into other businesses, including Windows Live. Zune will essentially cease to exist under this plan.

This rumor is similar to some recent developments in the internal Zune team structure. The employees were divided into separate hardware and software teams. Opposite to Zune, the “Windows Live” brand had success in establishing, and is actively promoted by Microsoft.

However, these rumors were silenced for the moment, with an official statement by the Zune team on Facebook. This is what they say:

We’re not ‘killing’ any of the Zune services/features in any way. Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7, as well as integration with Bing and MSN.

It remains to be seen how long this applies, and how extensive this statement is to be taken.

Since several months, the Zune marketplace is open for European users, and central part of Windows Phone 7. Until now, Microsoft did not invest any money to make Zune better known in Europe. In the U.S., the brand is much better known. This is related to the Zune multimedia player, concurring with Apple’s iPod.