JK said multiple times that this was totally unconfirmed and to take it with a grain of salt, and these rumors have been floating around the Internet for years now. But with news that key exec Kevin Johnson is jumping ship, the company could be going through a shakeup.
An internal memo leaked online (don't they always) about the reorganization, and one paragraph caught my eye:
Apple: In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we're changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We'll do the same with phones -- providing choice to create great end-to-end experiences.
OK, so there's no smoking gun that definitely says the company will be bringing a Zune Phone, or zPhone, out. But this can be seen as a clear shift in philosophy to emphasize hardware.
So, is the Zune phone a ridiculous idea? Although the Zune never came close to challenging the iPod, the updated version does offer an extremely pleasant user experience. The company does have most of the right relationships to bring a device to the market as well.
Here's one take on what a zPhone would look like: