It took some time after Robbie Bach left Microsoft for the Zune device line to wind to a close, but that hasn't stopped the former music (and gaming) executive from suggesting that it should have been ramped down much, much sooner. While discussing the best way to get a startup company humming at a Northwest Entrepreneur Network event, Bach mentioned his view that Microsoft should never have started down the MP3 player path to start with and should have instead gone service-only. The Zune was a too-little-too-late reaction to the iPod, according to him, and the option to squirt your songs apparently wasn't enough of a lure:
"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."
We've had some affection for the Zune in the past, but there's no denying that it faced an uphill battle from the start. Sales leveled off almost immediately, and the damage was primarily to smaller competitors like Creative and SanDisk that couldn't throw their weight around the way Microsoft did.