Microsoft’s Studio online service–perhaps the only good thing about its ill-fated Kin phones, but it’s pretty darn cool–is going offline on January 31st. The move effectively turns the Kins from smartphones into dumbphones by disabling much of their functionality. Verizon Wireless is offering Kin owners replacement 3G phones of their choice, but the sudden shutdown, less than nine months after the Kin went on sale, still seems like a shabby way to treat people who bought into Microsoft’s short-lived Kin hoopla.
Tag Archives | Microsoft Kin
Who says there are no second acts in American life? Four and a half months after Microsoft’s mercy killing of its dismal Kin One and Kin Two phones, they’re back on sale at Verizon, with slightly tweaked names (Kin ONEm and Kin TWOm), lower prices, and cheaper service plans with more restrictions. In other words, they’ve been downgraded from smartphones to feature phones, which probably makes sense. (Verizon and Microsoft seemed to have trouble figuring out how much these phones should cost: When I was briefed on them, shortly before they were released, the initial planned price dropped during my meeting.)
I’m sort of rooting for the Kins to find a happy customer base, and their new positioning may help. Ultimately, though, I think that they have a major problem that price cuts can’t help: They’re unappealing, poorly-designed products…
Over at Engadget, Chris Ziegler has a good piece on the unfortunate circumstances which led Microsoft to kill its Kin socialphone a couple of months after launching it. I dunno whether his account gets it all right, but isn’t it manifestly obvious that the misbegotten Kin shows how dangerous it is to have the resources to pursue pretty much any project you want?
(And just to join the chorus: The one thing that was unquestionably neat about Kin was the Studio Web site which automatically replicated most of the stuff on your phone in online form. Hope the idea makes it into Windows Phone 7.)
Microsoft is confirming for us what you may have already read elsewhere: after only two short months on the market, the Microsoft Kin line has officially been killed. Here’s the official statement:
“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 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.”
While the Kin certainly made some waves when Verizon cut the prices of the phones in half just two days ago, I figured Microsoft would give the device some time to see if it catches on. Sales for this device must have just been so dismal that it wasn’t even worth it to give it a chance, which is a shame because at least I saw it having some potential.
Microsoft probably could have picked a better time to launch its Kin line of mobile phones, especially with the focus of the tech world right now being on the iPhone 4, flawed or not. It appears as if the company is already ready to price these things into consumers’ pockets.
The Kin One will drop from $49 to $29 with a two-year commitment from Verizon, while the Kin Two drops to $49 from $99. Each phone requires a $29 per month or higher data plan, so their cost of ownership from a service standpoint is about the same as the iPhone.
Verizon is playing it off as part of a set of price reductions across its entire lineup, however most times when you see a price drop this early into a product’s lifespan, it has something to do with poor sales or not meeting certain goals.
Even with a fairly robust marketing effort, Microsoft has seemingly failed to grab those of us out there who may not want an iPhone but are in the market for a smartphone overall. Ina Fried at Cnet has relayed a story of one Verizon Wireless store that claims sales are so bad that even older Palm Pre devices are outselling it. That’s not good.
I have played with the Kin One, and can say for the first time I am truly impressed with a Windows-powered mobile device. Yes, it does have some quirks such as issues with how the touch-enabled area operates, but these are not showstoppers.
Maybe the problem is that consumers are increasingly seeing Microsoft as losing its innovative touch, and thus paying attention more to its competitors. It’s a shame, I think: the Kin should be able to do well on it’s own merits.
Rumors of Microsoft phones that pack Zune software and are essentially next-generation versions of the Sidekick platform it acquired have been around forever–or at least since 2008. This morning, Microsoft made it all official at an event in San Francisco by announcing two phones it’s calling Kin. There’s a Kin One and a Kin Tw0–the models that have been floating around the blogosphere for months–and the Sharp-manufacturered handsets will be available next month on Verizon Wireless at prices yet to be announced.