Microsoft has decided to cut its losses early with the Kin phones.
The company rolled out the Kin One and Kin Two phones in April and began selling them in May. On the last day of June, the Softies announced they had decided against selling the Kins in Europe and planned to fold the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 team.
The official statement from a company spokesperson:
“Microsoft has made the decision to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and 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.”
(I guess that explains Verizon's price cuts on Kin this week. It's a fire sale. It's not clear who will buy the current Kin stock at this point, however.)
Kin, formerly codenamed Pink, had a tumultuous history even before it was launched, based on various leaks I'd gotten over the past couple of years. The project was on again, then off again. I heard Kin might be introduced as services only; then as a Microsoft phone plus services. It sounded like a number of the Danger team acquired by Microsoft quit because of disagreements with management over the direction of the Pink project.
Once the Kin was announced, Microsoft's decision to use neither Windows Mobile nor Windows Phone OS 7 as the operating system -- instead it was a hybrid of sorts of the two -- left company watchers scratching their heads. Microsoft's failure to provide an app store for the devices was another ding. Once Verizon introduced the Kins with exorbitantly priced data plans, they seemed unlikely to get the kind of uptake Microsoft had hoped.
I've heard talk that Microsoft may use an adaptation of some of the Kin concepts, like the Kin Studio, for Windows Phone 7. If they don't, that was one heck of an expensive project with no results.
I guess it's better to cut your losses earlier rather than later if you're Microsoft. But it seems as though as it would have been better to scrap the Kin before it ever launched.
Update: It looks like the decision to halt the Kin launch in Europe was pretty sudden (and not something even Microsoft's own Kin team members knew about). Check out this tweet from just a few hours ago from the official @kin twitter account: