You don’t have to go far to find out why Groove failed

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I work in a Microsoft-centric Enterprise. The whole thing, server, services and cloud. This being Europe a couple of colleagues have old aging Windowsphones and will be moving to Android shortly because they can’t buy a new flagship model.  

It is a pretty well informed office too. Daily news circulations of the latest patches, updates to server, Office 365 and the like.  

So in what the Americans call a “water cooler moment” I was mentioning the end of the Microsoft music service over Christmas. My own history is that I was a subscriber and waited for a family plan to include my wife and nephew but it never came. So I moved to Spotify a couple of years ago. Back to the office. The almost universal reaction was people were totally unaware Microsoft had a music service. You need to remember that Zune devices were “US Only” and Zune was barely mentioned globally. Xbox Music was only released as an app on Windows 8. So the Windows 7 enterprise never saw it. 

One colleague did mention Microsoft’s music service but added that he couldn’t use it because it was for the Xbox and he had a PS4.

All my colleagues have Spotify subscriptions. Mainly because they buy a family plan so their kids are covered. 

I didn’t have to go far to find out why Groove closed.

Comments (14)

14 responses to “You don’t have to go far to find out why Groove failed”

  1. arunphilip

    Eh, I can do it in two words: Because Microsoft.


    And this comes from a big fan of Microsoft, who's been bitten quite often by their inexplicable turnarounds on so many things (Zune, WHS, etc.)


    Now I'm very cautious about Microsoft technology - especially hardware, as I am not confident about their commitment. Nearly bit the bullet for a Band, but Microsoft killed off Windows Mobile, so I moved to a Samsung phone + smart watch.


    I am confident about their cloud/subscription offerings, so I'm happy to pay for Office/OneDrive, and a 365 account, and keep my email/calendar/contacts/files in Microsoft's cloud.

    • stevenlack

      In reply to arunphilip:

      The only hardware I'm confident in from Microsoft is the Surface line, Xbox and Accessories, which is all they really sell anyways now..

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to stevenlack:

        Picky: MSFT still sells mice and keyboards. I'm not keen on their keyboards, but MSFT makes decent mice.

        • jwpear

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          There always seems to be a compromise with Microsoft's offerings. This is even evident with recent keyboard and mice hardware. For example, I recently tried the Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID. Loved it! The Windows Hello support and wired/wireless option were a nice! My wrists couldn't go back to a regular keyboard after many years of using a ergo keyboard, so I returned the Modern Keyboard within a few days of purchase. I then picked up a Surface Ergonomic Keyboard, but sadly, it lacks fingerprint ID or a wired option. Makes no sense that I must compromise when choosing between the regular or ergo keyboard.

  2. hrlngrv

    In fairness to MSFT, it may have been how royalty payments were scheduled which could explain why no family plan. And Groove Music may have inherited whatever royalty schedule had been in place for Zune Music and Xbox Music, and those may have been negotiated long enough ago that no one thought of special pricing for family plans.

    That's what I figure. MSFT entered into IP agreements with content providers long enough ago that a few mills (tenths of a US cent) per song play was reasonable, but more recent subscription services were able to reach better agreements while MSFT was stuck with earlier agreements content rights owners weren't willing to renegotiate.

    OTOH, someday MSFT may need to figure out how to provide new services outside the US beginning on the same day as those services begin in the US. I figure MSFT doesn't because they're too timid and/or penny-wise to spring for worldwide marketing. Unfortunately, MSFT believes if something succeeds in the US, then maybe take it worldwide; but anything that fails in the US ain't going anywhere else.

    For a company with so many non-American employees, MSFT has a mystifyingly narrow, US-centric focus.

  3. Roger Ramjet

    I am starting to think the fundamental difference between Microsoft and several of these other competing tech giants (specifically, Amazon, Google, maybe Facebook), is just a more conservative philosophy they have (Apple is a bit different and might not fit neatly into any of the two groups in my mind). Basically, Microsoft is really at heart, an "old guard" company, and they will not go all in into these products and services, or international markets with businesses that are heavily losing money, whereas all those other three, they do it all the time, they go big, very big in, with loss leaders, expecting the shareholders, and the eyeball hype to finance it until they figure out how to make money from it.

    This is probably a top reason they consistently dominate Microsoft in new products. In fact, this is the very heart of how each of those three companies got off the ground. I want to say Bezos is King of it, turning retail, one of the biggest businesses in the world, all of it, into a loss leader for which he later found high margin bolt on high tech ventures to justify it. But then again, what was paid search, and what was social networking, at infancy. They were built for eyeballs first, then the business model figured out later.... (Facebook did have the benefit of going after Google, so they must have known how they would make the money). But anyway, with new products and services, all these 3 still follow the same path, they pour in unlimited monies and overwhelm completion with that growth by grabbing all the customers and partners. Seems like Microsoft just refuses to do it because it definitely requires a leap of faith to make it go. (There was a recent interview with Gates & Nadella where they sort of complain about how people were spending money, and shortly after they started axing things).

    Anyway, in this view, they could end up being brilliant, if they were correct and end up waiting out what may be a bubble. But, we have at least one example in already: smartphones (Google essentially threw money at OEMs by making Android free while I think Microsoft tried to charge for their OS), if that stands in more cases than not, then it means these newer companies have a superior business models, and they will continue beating Microsoft because they figured out ways to make money while giving more value to the partners & consumers.

    • dhr2018

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:


      Google does have a rather limited, US-first / US/UK-only focus with some or most of their hardware products, Pixel / P2 being the most relevant example (true, that Pixel might play a similar role for Google that Surface for MSFT - not wanting to undercut their own OEMs)


  4. Jules Wombat

    Microsoft is a US centric company, but Google, Apple and Amazon are globally centric consumer companies. If you are a consumer living outside the US, Microsoft are not really interested in you. Then they wonder why their consumer products and services fail.

    oh BTW I use a Lumia 650 as my main phone, exercise with a Microsoft Band 2, and own a SP4 despite Microsofts dismal efforts. .

  5. lordbaal1

    That is not why they closed it.

  6. Bill Russell

    Google red/music has the family plan too but you get the youtube benefits, which to me makes it a no brainer for value. Not sure why its not more popular, other than people either don't care about the youtube related benefits or are unaware. I'll admit the play music app is not great but its about the content. Spotify is good for what it is but I think its because they are just the lucky product or service that "went viral" and what everyone thinks of, like the "band aid".

  7. dave0

    Microsoft seems to be addicted to being a day late and a dollar short on consumer products.

  8. Jeffery Commaroto

    I am in the US.I personally don’t know of anyone who ever used it or had product knowledge about it outside of the people I read comments from here. Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and occasionally a Google Music person will creep in. That is all I have ever run into. Anecdotal.

  9. Lauren Glenn

    The main reason why it failed? Steve Jobs. You needed a Zune to use the music pass (or at least get the benefits of it). It was a rare instance of someone doing something better than Apple. You could browse the store on it, download music, sync cards and play counts to the server over Wifi. iPod had worse sound quality but it had smart playlists which are still far superior though.


    But then they came out with Zune HD which was a huge improvement (especially over HDMI) and everyone I showed the interface to absolutely loved it. Problem was, it didn't natively support H264 High Profile so every HD podcast needed to be converted (thanks to the iPad playing high profile and HD) and syncing was very, very slow with music. I remember syncing my collection over Zune HD and it took many hours to fill a 64GB player).


    So basically, Microsoft had the right idea but you couldn't find one of their players in just about any store.


    The only reason it was kept alive was because Microsoft had money. Anyone else would've thrown it away a long time ago. Too bad the Zune HD didn't take off. That was still the best MP3 player I ever owned (except the fact that video played too dark and you couldn't adjust it, but it was still excellent).

  10. Lauren Glenn

    But keep in mind that while XBOX Music was WIndows 8 only, you could still use Zune in Windows 7 and get subscription music. Even with Win8, I downloaded Zune because I hated XBOX Music's interface.


    It was excellent at removing duplicates in my music library and I could move files around in the folders and it would still find them all.

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