Microsoft has recanted its recent announcement about the demise of its Zune media players. On Monday, the device was pulled off the company's Zune.net web store and a support page was released with a paragraph explaining Microsoft's plans. In the statement, Redmond said it would continue to offer customer support, but it would stop producing Zune players so it could shift focus to Windows Phone devices and related mobile services.
That information was contradicted on Twitter yesterday. Addressing the concerns of a disappointed fan, a Microsoft employee said the company "is still supporting Zune HD hardware. No official info has been released stating hardware is being discontinued." Again, Microsoft's site explicitly claimed that it would halt production of Zune players -- a.k.a. discontinue them. The page even assured customers that all existing orders would be fulfilled.
It doesn't get much more official or clear than that. Oddly, the original announcement has since been yanked offline without an explanation, though you can still see the page via Google cache. The Zune HD is available again and Microsoft claims the device's product page was removed because of a "publishing mishap." That's open to interpretation. An optimist might argue that Microsoft has had a change of heart and it will offer the Zune HD indefinitely.
Realistically, we imagine the company simply released the guillotine prematurely for one reason or another. Perhaps it wants to flush its existing supplies before "officially" axing the Zune HD sometime in the near future. That much seems inevitable. The device has failed to gain serious traction among competing portable media players such as Apple's iPod and that general market is arguably being cannibalized by smartphones anyway.