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June 30, 2010

That was fast – Microsoft kills KIN phone after two months

Posted by David Hunter at 7:09 PM ET.

Microsoft’s KIN phone didn’t last long – it was announced in April and killed today in favor of the mainline Windows Phone program:

Amid anemic sales, Microsoft has decided to halt work on its Kin phone less than two months after the product hit the market.

The social media-oriented phone will not make its planned European debut and Microsoft is shifting the entire Kin team to work on Windows Phone 7, the Microsoft smartphone operating system due out later this year. Andy Lees, who heads up the company’s cell phone efforts announced the move to Microsoft workers earlier on Wednesday, according to a source close to the company.

A Microsoft spokesman later confirmed the news.

With Microsoft’s decision, it is now unclear whether there will ever be software updates to the phone, including one originally planned for this summer. Over the weekend, Verizon cut the price on the two Kin models by as much as 50 percent.

Microsoft won’t say how much it spent on the Kin launch, but it has been backed by significant TV, Web, and print and radio advertising campaigns.

Neither Verizon nor Microsoft would say how many devices were sold, but a source told CNET that the number of Kins sold thus far is more than 1,000 but south of 10,000–significantly below expectations.

"We don’t share sales data or marketing strategies but the device remains an important part of our portfolio," a Verizon representative said in a statement.

Roz Ho, the Microsoft executive who lead the unit that developed the Kin will oversee the transition of the team and then move to an as-yet-determined role at the company, according to a source.

Every company makes missteps, but this one is destined to be a classic right up there with the Edsel.



Filed under Kin, Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7

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April 12, 2010

Microsoft launches KIN, a social Windows phone

Posted by David Hunter at 1:04 PM ET.

Microsoft today unveiled their much buzzed entry in the mobile phone marketplace, but in keeping with their desire to still sell their phone operating system to the usual phone vendors, it has an oddly circumscribed target customer set:

Microsoft Corp. today announced KIN, a new Windows®Phone designed specifically for people who are actively navigating their social lives. Brought to life through partnerships with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp Corporation, KIN is designed to be the ultimate social experience that blends the phone, online services and the PC with breakthrough new experiences called the Loop, Spot and Studio. KIN will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. beginning in May and from Vodafone this autumn in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The New Way to Share

The home screen of the phone is called the KIN Loop, which is always up to date and always on, showing all the things happening in someone’s social world. KIN automatically brings together feeds from leading Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all in one place, making it easier to stay connected. Customers can also select their favorite people, and KIN will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds and photos. Another unique feature, the KIN Spot is a new way for people to share what’s going on in their world. It lets them focus first on the people and stuff they want to share rather than the specific application they want to use. Videos, photos, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates are shared by simply dragging them to a single place on the phone called the Spot. Once all the people and content are in the Spot to share, the consumer can choose how to share, and start broadcasting.

Your Phone, on the Web

KIN Studio is your phone online. Almost everything created on the phone is available in the cloud from any Web browser. Photos and videos are freed from the confines of the phone and presented in an online visual timeline so they are easy to view and share. The KIN Studio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalized digital journal so it’s easy to go back in time to relive a crazy weekend or recent birthday. And the KIN Studio gives customers tons of storage to keep all those photos, videos, contacts and texts so they’ll never run out of space on their phone and lose a memory.

Music and More

KIN will be the first Windows Phone to feature a Zune experience — including music, video, FM radio and podcast playback. With a Zune Pass subscription, customers using Zune software on their PC can listen to millions of songs from Zune Marketplace on their KIN while on the go, or load their personal collection. KIN also has other features customers want in a phone including a rich browser with the ability to share pieces of the Web, local and Web search by Bing, and an RSS feed reader to pull down information on people and stories from the Web.

The KIN is the product previously rumored as the "Pink Phone" and is an descendant of the Sidekick product acquired with the 2008 acquisition of Danger, Inc. As for the target market, the polite way to refer to it is as a "younger crowd," but the temptation is irresistible to refer to the KIN as the Kid’s Phone. I suppose the good news is that Microsoft probably has not burned their bridges with the phone OEM’s, but the bad news is likely that the KIN sinks like a rock. My guess that trying to convince the average teenager that he/she really wants a KIN and not an iPhone or BlackBerry is going to be a tough sell.



Filed under Acquisitions, Argo, Coopetition, Danger, Inc., Kin, Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, Pink Phone, Sidekick, Zune

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