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Zune exec bails ahead of player's upcoming HD launch

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Microsoft’s Zune general marketing manager has quit the firm.

Chris Stephenson is understood to be leaving the software giant to join Universal Music Group.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Stephenson has turned his back on MS, whose Zune execs are undergoing a tough time following an appalling 54 per cent drop in sales of the music player.

Microsoft confirmed in January that $100m had been cut from revenues in the last quarter of 2008, with sales of $85m compared to the same period in 2007, when Redmond notched up $185m for its Zune hardware.

The Zune team is also rejigging how it punts the business, by shifting its focus from the device to the service Microsoft can offer. It is understood to be considering making Zune available on a range of devices, including its own Windows mobile phones.

Meanwhile, the firm’s touch-screen Zune HD model is expected to launch on 15 September.

According to WSJ, Stephenson’s final day at Microsoft is 4 September. Three days later he will rock up at Universal-owned record label Interscope Geffen A&M Records, where he will take on the role of chief marketing officer.

The British-born exec joined Microsoft in 2006 as the company’s media biz boss. He previously held down roles at Jaguar, Ministry of Sound and MTV. ®

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