Less than two months after hitting the market, Microsoft has now officially discontinued the KIN. We first heard of this from a story at Gizmodo, and now Microsoft has gone on record a few times about its decision.
When the KIN was first announced I shared my impressions. At the time I found that there was a lot to like, but I was really hoping that some of the KIN's features would be integrated with Windows Phone 7. Now it seems that I may get my wish, though not in the way I had hoped.
Microsoft had this to say:
"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."
So, it sounds like the decision will bring the KIN folks into Windows Phone, and that Verizon will continue to offer the KIN. I would assume that Microsoft has a deal with Verizon that's keeping it from pulling the KIN officially out of the channel, but even that will probably end soon, given that Verizon dropped the prices of the KIN handsets just yesterday to $29 and $49 for the KIN ONE and KIN TWO respectively.
There's a lot of speculation around the timing of this announcement. My guess is that since today is year-end, Microsoft made a decision that this is a project it no longer wanted to fund in FY2011.
I'm sure it's a very sad day at Microsoft, especially in the mobile division. Many veterans of Windows Mobile moved to KIN to transform the industry. Now that dream is being end-of-life'd and reincorporated into a mobile OS that should be feature complete and frozen any day now.
It would be easy to say that this is major setback for Microsoft's mobile endeavors, but I'm going to hold out hope that there's some great technology that can now be incorporated into the future of Windows Phone. I'm just hoping that it's not going to be too late to market.
By the way, my co-author, Matt, has posted two compelling articles on the death of the KIN, one of which is asking you to take part in a poll about what you think this means for Microsoft's position in the mobile space. As I stated above, I think in the end it's a good thing, since it will provide a cohesive strategy, but I fear that no one will care for Microsoft's offering by the time it ships.