Half a decade later: Have you thrown out your OG Zune packaging?

In the summer of 2006, I remember seeing something online about Microsoft’s new product — the Zune. It was in a time when I had never owned a portable media player before, when it seemed everyone and… ahem… his or her (mechanics!) mother had one (and I’m not just saying that because it’s a popular phrase), when I was longing for an Apple iPod endlessly. But something about the elusiveness of the Zune caught my attention, so I put it on my Christmas wish list. Lo and behold, that holiday season, I received my first MP3 player: the Microsoft Zune.

Oh, man. It was so cool. It was a brown brick with green edges that weighed a ton — and I loved it! (That was, until, it fell and damaged thanks to someone’s carelessness and I had to wait until the Zune 80 was released.) I would listen to my, perhaps, 200 songs loaded from my Windows XP laptop. Heck, I could even “squirt” to other Zuners (as they became known) if I wanted to — and did once on my school bus. I remember the fact that someone else who was using a Zune being in my vicinity was absolutely enthralling! So, I sent my squriting request… only to be rejected. Goodness, the possibility of puns here. I even bought a leather case for it to protect the freakin’ cylinder block that it was!

My Brownie, the Zune 30 — also known as the “OG Zune” — still sits snug in that leather case in my desk drawer. It turns on if you charge it, but can’t synch any songs due to the unfortunate accident. However, the other day, while cleaning out some stuff, I found the original packaging for my Brownie. I opened it and found the beige interior with “orangenta” zigzags, the brown cable boxes, and that warm “Wel-come to the social” message. That message could not be any more true… even ’til this day.

Even so, I opted to throw out the packaging.

It’s been more than five years since the Zune made its debut, and every year I would see my Zune packaging just sitting on a shelf, collecting dust. But every year, I would decide to keep it. It reminded me of all the fond memories I had because of a piece of technology. See, the Zune truly did welcome me into the social, just as it did for plenty of others. Because of it, I spent countless hours discussing tech and entertainment and even politics with Zune lovers worldwide; because of it, I helped run one of the more successful Zune communities and blogs on the net; because of it, I have made long lasting relationships and friendships with people I would never have met otherwise. As pathetic as that may sound, it’s unequivocally the truth. Somehow, I thought holding on to that packaging meant that I could hold on to 2006, and 2007, and 2008…

But truth be told, it was just collecting dust. The Zune is dead. Well, it’s physicality is dead. But that doesn’t mean my memories are dead. There’s still something that pulls me into the allure of its experience — for some reason it’s just so darn compelling! — and yet I sit here having just received a text on my iPhone while typing this on my MacBook, posting on a site that’s changed focus from just Zune to general Microsoft, as we live in a community waiting for the next Windows Phone and Windows 8 news. The world changes, technology grows, and most would even say it’s for the better.

I remember when news was breaking that Microsoft wasn’t going to continue making new Zune hardware and commenters freaked out that this sparked the end of an era they loved. It’s true, the era is over. But a new era is just beginning. And we’re all still here, geeking out about the latest technology, all stemming from that hipster/indie image we fell in love with in 2006.

They say: out with the old, in with the new. That very well may be true. The less-than-cool image Microsoft upheld during the Zune era is on its way out. Windows 8 looks great (if challenging), Microsoft understands how horrible Internet Explorer used to be, and heck Zunited even posted about Microsoft’s new image recently. And Windows Phone, as per usual, is getting rave reviews. Somewhere, in all of these new products, lives a little bit of Zune… or at least, lessons learned from Zune. It’s saddening that the Zune had to be collateral damage, but its philosophy remains very much alive.

And the community that made it unforgettable, the same.