Microsoft Kills the Kin
The Microsoft Kin, Microsoft’s widely panned line of semi-smartphones for text-happy teenagers, is dead – or at least it doesn’t have a future as a standalone product.
Microsoft on Wednesday released a statement suggesting that it’s cutting bait on the Windows Phone 7 spinoff and folding the project’s staff and technologies into the main body of Windows Phone 7.
Here’s the official word from Microsoft:
“We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch and we will not ship Kin in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current Kin phones.”
For now, it seems like Verizon Wireless will continue to sell Kin phones. But with the Kin team essentially disbanded, it’s hard to see future updates and support for the line being a priority within Microsoft.
“Kin is still an important part of our portfolio,” Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said.
Kin may not have been been selling well on Verizon Wireless. Spurious rumors about sales numbers aside, Verizon recently cut the price of both Kin models.
Microsoft’s change of direction may be related to recent changes in its executive team. In May, Robbie Bach and J Allard, two top executives in Microsoft’s mobile and devices team, left the company. Andy Lees took over management of Microsoft’s device strategy, reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer.
When we first reviewed the Kin One and Kin Two, I was concerned that they couldn’t find a place in the market. Acting like feature phones but priced like full smartphones, they offer high monthly fees, no apps, and mediocre social-networking integration.
Microsoft told me at launch that it considered the Kin would be a way to address a younger, more social target market than the “life maximizers” who would be picking up Windows Phone 7 devices. Kin phones could be lower spec, and less expensive than Windows Phone 7 units.
Folding the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 unit may broaden the appeal of Windows Phone 7. Some Kin features, such as Studio – a Web interface that automatically backed up your phone’s content and showed it along a timeline – could enhance the Windows Phone 7 experience.
We’ll have to see later this year, when Windows Phone 7 finally comes to market.
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