The Zune player will likely continue to exist: it’s a solid media player and a great alternative for someone who doesn’t want to pick up an iPod or iPod Touch at a competitive price. The Zune HD, for example, earned 4.5/5 stars at PC Mag, features a bright and beautiful OLED display, and syncs with your music store and your music library wirelessly: something the iPod and iTunes can’t do. Still, the Zune never managed to gain ground against the iPod, and the promise of the Zune HD as a real competitor to the iPod Touch never materialized because the app catalog for the Zune HD simply never got off the ground. Whether this means that new Zune and Zune HD digital media players will suddenly be renamed to something else, or that the Zune Marketplace will fold into the Windows Phone Marketplace, or that some new branding will appear to unify all of Microsoft’s mobile devices remains to be seen. Even so, and assuming Thurott’s sources are correct, wiping away the Zune as a brand would be a pretty big feat for Microsoft considering how entrenched it is in XBox Live, in WIndows Phone 7, and as a name in the digital music space. It’s unlikely to be as dramatic as it seems, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Over at the Win Super Site, Paul Thurott notes that the Microsoft Zune as we know it may be on its last legs. Not the product – but the brand. In a post discussing the fallout of Nokia and Microsoft’s partnership and commitment to Windows Phone 7, he dared to ask, “What of the Zune?” Here’s what he uncovered: And what about Zune? Although both companies talked up virtually all Windows Phone-based services, Zune was conspicuously missing–both in discussions from both Elop and Ballmer and on a global reach marketing slide that was created by both companies. My sources tell me that the Zune brand is on the way out and that all Zune products and services will be moved into other businesses, including Windows Live. Zune will essentially cease to exist under this plan.