Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Morning Brief: Microsoft throws in the towel, ends Zune hardware; Food & Wine app gets update from American Express Publishing, free access for print subscribers

Microsoft gave off mixed signals yesterday concerning whether it would continue making its Zune music player. But the tech giant confirmed that the Zune will be discontinued, though it will continue supporting the iPod competitor.

We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices.
The move makes sense, not just because Zune was never a real strong competitor to Apple's iPod line. The fact is that even Apple is moving away from the iPod – at least moving away from iPod classic sized music player. Instead, you can expect Apple to continue to push smaller iPods like the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, while also supporting its iPod touch and iPhones (of course).

And that is the message from Microsoft's message: hey, every one will have a smartphone eventually, why would you need a separate music player, too?

There were a slew of media app updates issued this morning. None, that I could see, were specific to the much anticipated release of iOS 5.

The International Herald Tribune of iPad was updated to add the Business Navigator section, which provides travel tools and information concerning travel to China, Saudi Arabia, etc.

The app also now provides round-the-clock updates from the IHT's newsroom in Paris, Hong Kong and New York.

American Express Publishing has finally updated its app for Food & Wine. The app now allows current print subscribers to log-in to receive issues free of charge.

This feature is a requirement of all magazine apps that charge for a print subscription and it was crazy that AmEx didn't update this app before now. The app, which is otherwise a really good one, was getting hammered in the App Store by readers mad at the company for double dipping readers.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this headline on the Guardian website this morning: Eurozone finance ministers refuse immediate bailout for Athens – the fact that it wasn't leading the news shows the attitude of the media towards all this, a kind of what else is new? attitude.

The story here is that the Eurozone ministers have delayed giving their approval for the new €8bn bailout until next month.
Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup chairman, repeatedly made plain early on Tuesday that none of the eurozone countries was urging a Greek default and categorically denied that there was any question of Greece leaving the euro area.
The headline reaction in Athens was Haircut under review, no new aid until November. The reaction of the European markets was immediate: the Dax is currently down 3.43 percent and is once again threatening to fall through its 52-week floor. The FTSE and CAC are also down over two and half percent, while U.S. stock futures are down, as well.

Reuters quotes Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank, as saying that "the market is increasingly worried about the potential of the Greek crisis and the calamity that could be created if there was a messy default."

Finally, Apple will be dominating the news this afternoon as they will be conducting an event at its campus in Cupertino. Although few have mentioned it, the choice of Cupertino to hold the event, as opposed to San Francisco, is itself a bit of a statement.

Big events usually are schedule for the Buena Vista Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The choice of the Cupertino campus is probably a way of making things more comfortable for newly promoted CEO Tim Cook, as well as a way of saying that this is a product update event rather that the launch of something altogether new.