This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.
Chris Stephenson, who has overseen global marketing for Microsoft’s Zune music player since its debut in 2006, is leaving Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to join Universal Music, the WSJ reports. Stephenson confirms he is leaving to the WSJ. At Universal, he will lead marketing for Interscope Geffen A & M Records. We’ve reached out to Microsoft representatives for comment and will update if we hear back.
Stephenson’s departure comes less than a month before the next model of the Zune, the Zune HD, is set to launch. So far, the new Zune—which features a touch screen, high-definition video, and an internet browser—has gained mostly accolades among reviewers.
Under Stephenson’s watch, Microsoft lately seems to be pitching the Zune—along with its related services—as a more affordable alternative to Apple’s iPod. For instance, an ad that debuted this Spring pointed out that it would cost $30,000 to fill a 120 gigabyte iPod with songs, while Zune owners could access that much music for $14.99 a month via the Zune’s unlimited music subscription service. And Stephenson himself has said that the new Zune HD—which is priced at a discount to the iPod Touch—is directly targeting the iPod Touch.
By Joseph Tartakoff