Zune Phone and the Perils of Partnering with Microsoft

Zun.k.ed, verb – partnering with Microsoft on an evolving platform, betting the farm (and your future on it) only to find that Zune is going to leave you out in the cold.

A few months ago, when Microsoft’s integrated digital music and media plans aka Zune came to light, we wondered about the plight of Microsoft partners who spent millions of dollars developing an ecosystem around the Microsoft Windows Media platform, only to find themselves competing with the Barons of Redmond.

The word double-crossed came to mind, though I went with a more poetic headline. It wasn’t the first time Microsoft had left some of their partners pissing in the wind. CrunchGear has a delicious little rumor that indicates that well, it might happen again.

Apparently, there are plans afoot to make a ZunePhone that would work with the Zune marketplace and rest of the Zune ecosystem. (Insert your usual judgement and betting probability filter for blogosphere rumors coming true here.)

If true, we can’t exactly fault Microsoft for taking its telephony destiny into its own hands, but one does have to think about those poor souls who are betting the farm on Windows Mobile.

(And also wonder about tossing aside all the money and effort that has been put into making that a viable platform — one which is actually getting better — though the UI still seems like something designed by a person with limited sensibility.)

Of course, there would be arguments that Windows Mobile is more for the enterprise and high-end corporate users (true to a large extent), but imagine the chagrin of the handset makers who dreamt of scale, and signed up for Windows Mobile, only to find themselves competing with ZunePhone.

Zunked again!

PS: I am not going to make any cracks about iPhone and zPhone. Oh wait, I just did.