Manan Kakkar over at Techie Buzz was able to uncover an interesting Microsoft design patent for a small Zune device, a la the iPod Nano. According to the description, the patent, which was filed on April 27, 2009, depicts “a front perspective view of a media player showing [Microsoft's] new design.”
Like the other Zune devices, the “Zune Nano” (ed. we’ll call it this for now, since there’s no official name) has the usual buttons: OK, back, next, previous, and volume up/down. But unlike past Zune devices, the buttons are spread out around the rim of the device, rather than a squircle. Interestingly, the play button is nowhere to be found. Also, while the patent doesn’t specifically mention it, the device doesn’t appear to support touch.
There is, of course, no way to know if this device was ever planned for release. Companies will often file patents for interesting ideas, even if they don’t have any plans to use them at the time.
Don’t expect Microsoft to release the device anytime soon, either. In response to a flood of “Zune is dead” rumors back in March, Dave McLauchlan, Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, reiterated that Windows Phone is this year’s Zune device.
That’s not to say, however, that Microsoft will never release another Zune device. McLauchlan continues to work on Zune hardware business development for Microsoft. If Microsoft had no intention of releasing new Zune devices, McLauchlan would probably have been moved to a different department or lost his job. Thankfully, this is not the case.
So while the Zune Nano might never make it to market, it’s interesting to discover former plans for a vastly different Zune device. Who knows, maybe it will come out one day.