Is Microsoft's Zune on the way out?

With all the talk about Windows Phone 7 recently, many people are starting to wonder why Zune hasn't been mentioned at all. It seems logical that Zune software would be a part of a Windows phone, since Joe Belfiore, the Corporate Vice President of the Windows Phone Program Management said in 2010's keynote at Mobile World Congress "Every Windows Phone will be a Zune". But now, nobody is talking about Zune. Is Microsoft getting ready to kill it off? Or are they just going to re-brand it?

Paul Thurrott of Windows Supersite favors the re-branding theory: "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." But it may also be that Microsoft will re-brand Zune as "X-Box Entertainment", since the Zune team (which has been split and reorganized twice) is already in the same division (Interactive Entertainment Business) as the X-Box.

Blogger Mary-Jo Foley asked Microsoft if they planned to kill Zune, and they responded:

"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."

But it should be pointed out that though they said they are not "killing any of the Zune services/features", they did not say they would not be killing the brand.

[via ZDnet]