Microsoft Splits Zune Teams: Hardware, Software Now In Own Divisions
"Microsoft has quietly reorganized its Zune team, splitting up the hardware and software teams, CNET News has learned. The software and services portion of the Zune team—the bulk of its staff—will be added to the portfolio of Enrique Rodriguez, the vice president who currently runs Microsoft's Mediaroom and Media Center TV businesses. The hardware team, meanwhile, will now report to Tom Gibbons, who also leads the hardware design efforts within Microsoft's Windows Mobile unit. The move was made on January 22, as Microsoft made its first-ever companywide layoffs—layoffs which also hit the Zune team, although Microsoft won't say how many people were cut. In an hour-long interview on Thursday, Rodriguez said the move was not made in response to recent Zune sales, but rather as the company looks to create a more unified entertainment business and gears up to expand the Zune service to be available on more than just Microsoft's own devices. "The goal is to make non-gaming entertainment a first-class citizen within Microsoft's business," he said. That means building better software and gaining scale "a little further out than just in Redmond.""
Zune/Windows Mobile interoperability was inevitable, and, as it happens, necessary. The integration of Zune with Windows Mobile makes sense, not just on a business or marketing level, as the two products share a common center; Windows Mobile needs to be more consumer-friendly, and Zune needs a larger adoption base. By merging the two platforms, we can hopefully see better phones and a more connected media player experience. There is no reason why, at this point in the game, Microsoft should have so many divergent sync and media solutions. It's time for these all to work together, seamlessly. Hopefully at the Mobile World Conference, starting tomorrow, we'll begin to see some of the potential for this reorganization, and maybe even an international release or two. And hey, anything that makes "non-gaming entertainment a first-class citizen within Microsoft's business" is a-ok by me.