Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

Summary: Now that Microsoft is shutting down the Kin project, we are left to wonder if this shows strength or weakness in Microsoft moving forward in the smartphone space. What do you think about this move and the future?

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So just two months after launching the Kin One and Two (see my teenage daughters' review) Microsoft is shutting down the Kin project. At first I thought the high monthly costs of the Kin (Verizon data and voice along with Zune Pass) were what killed the project, but after talking with my daughters and giving the phones a try myself I think they just offered too little compared to all the other smartphones and higher end feature phones that are available for the same monthly price. There are now at least a couple of ways you can look at Microsoft in the mobile space and I wanted to see what you readers think about the future of Microsoft and Windows Phone.

Encouraged?

First, the fact that Microsoft saw that the Kin was not doing well (I don't think there is any way those reports of only selling 500 devices across the nation could really be true.) and decided to shut down the endeavor before spending more money on it may be seen as a positive position to some. Microsoft needs to focus if it wants to seriously take on the Apple iPhone, Google Android, and RIM BlackBerry platforms and having two different variants (may even be more with enterprise focus) of Windows Phone may have been seen as being too scattered. Thus, seeing Microsoft recognize a distraction right away and take action may end up being a good thing.

Worried?

Then again, Microsoft spent years and millions of dollars on Project Pink (now known as Kin) and came out with a substandard product that couldn't even excel in the core functionality, social networking. The social networking parts of the Kin were extremely limited and even my daughters thought there needed to be more. Microsoft said that we could look forward to updates that would come OTA and address many of these issues and concerns. This approach may sound good, but now that we see the Kin project being shut down it doesn't give you a warm fuzzy about future updates. These statements about taking care of things with updates seriously concerns me in regards to Windows Phone 7 because this is what we heard from Microsoft when asked about multitasking and copy and paste functionality that will most likely not be in Windows Phone 7 at launch.

There are intelligent and passionate people at Microsoft working on the Kin and Windows Phone 7 teams and I am sure many of them are crushed with the Kin news. I have been a Windows Mobile fan for years, but am seriously starting to wonder if Microsoft can succeed in the mobile space. They need a long term strategy with long term leadership and a team that will get a project together and support it for years. I have seen a lot of changes in leadership, strategy, and teams over the years at Microsoft and am not sure the nature of the company leads to quality products that can compete successfully in the fast moving smartphone space. People's expectations have changed from the days of Palm and Pocket PC and companies need to move fast to attract new customers.

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Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Telcos, Windows

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107 comments
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  • Poor choice, shows that MS doesn't know what to do with mobile

    What have me scratching my head is the decision to release the thing in the first place. Did they really think it will sell to teens? Really? And if they really did, what does that say about them now that they're reportedly pulling it two months in? <br><br>Probably would have been best to hold off until their flagship WP7 is released, refine it some more, have it share the same App store as WP7, give it killer games etc. You know, all the things teens are into. This only makes them look like they really haven't a clue on what consumers really want.
    dave95.
    • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

      Believe me or not I am loving the WinMobile 6.5.5 with Sense Cookie HomeTab on a HTC HD <br>The best system ever!
      Why does MS just improve it a bit more?
      EvaldoJr
      • You must have very low expectations

        and very low threshold for enjoyment.
        wackoae
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @EvaldoJr
        HTC Sense was WAY better than WinMo 6.0/6.1, but 6.5 no longer needs the third party UI. IMHO one of the reasons WinMo 5.x-6.1 were so bad was a combination of the naitve Pocket PC 2003 UI and the various third party UIs companies used to hide the uglyness. Buy a WinMo Phone and roll the dice on your UI.
        MSFT_Tinkering
    • Kin is a good idea...

      ...as an app. As an entire phone platform, not so much. Allow those that bought Kins free upgrades to the full-featured version of Windows Phone 7, so the people that bought Kins don't feel like they wasted that cash.
      nix_hed
    • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

      @dave95.

      I agree. As others have posted, the KIN debacle really shows haw divided and poorly managed M$ has become in the mobile space. It's not surprising that Allard and the other guy left. Hopefully, M$ will move rapidly with integrating the cloud / studio features of KIN into WP7. Finally, M$ would do well to put as much pressure on Verizon /AT&T to allow for pay-as-you-go data plans with WP7. Doing this along would significantly increase the appeal of the phones.
      jjworleyeoe
  • Lack of leadership and vision

    The problem with Microsoft is the lack of leadership and vision. There are a lot of smart people but smart people cannot focus their creative juices in the right direction if they aren't given a roadmap and vision. The Kin seem to be a product to reaction to something that doesn't exist and the software it self is crappy - and out of date copy of Internet Explorer being the saddest indictment of it all.

    What Microsoft need is a phone built on Windows CE 7.0, a very narrow Win32 API, all applications written using Silverlight (or Flash once ported to the narrow set of Win32 APIs), Internet Explorer 9 with full hardware acceleration and software pre-bundled that links into Facebook and other popular social media sites. If they did that it would have been a roaring success but they didn't and like like usual they sabotage their own products through incompetence.
    Macintoshtoffy
    • Down hill since Gates retired

      Not trolling. Check out the MS stats since Gates retired.
      wackoae
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @wackoae The seeds of that downward spiral sprouted way before Gates decided to actually move on. They took hold as soon as Ballmer took partial control of the reigns.
        ejhonda
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @wackoae

        Read much? - Ballmer has doubled the numbers since he has been in charge for the last 10+ years. http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/26/microsoft-numbers/
        ohhappyday
      • @wackoae, sales numbers are misleading

        so far there are 150 million Windows 7 copies. That is nice 'n stuff, however that is what needed to happen for a company the size of MS just to maintain the company's numbers. The *only* numbers that count are on the P&L sheet, anything else is marketing cr*p. MSs numbers have been flat since Ballmer has had a major hand in management (10 years) and it is time for him as well as several other heads at MS to move on. MS needs fresh blood because all the current management can do is recreate products that they already have. Ballmer's comment about everything is basically a PC demonstrates the root of the problem, no one in management has any original ideas. The board at MS should grow a pair and hire some people that think differently, perhaps from Apple and Google, and ask them what MS needs to sell and then give them a free hand at creating it and here is the tricky part, do not require that it is tied to their back office suite in anyway because at that point then everything starts looking like a PC again.
        balsover
    • Ballmer as CEO was a huge mistake

      @Macintoshtoffy ... Microsoft will not get its bearings again until that man is gone.

      CEO FAIL
      HollywoodDog
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @HollywoodDog should bite me.
        ohhappyday
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @ohhappyday
        [i]@HollywoodDog should bite me.[/i]<br><br>Where?<br><br>lol... :D
        ahh so
    • This will surely be the death of WP7 IMHO!

      @Macintoshtoffy require every app to use Silverlight? Why not do that for the desktop OS? See how ridiculous that is? It limits the device to a very small subset of required functionality.
      GR8BigCheese
    • I have to agree on that one

      @Macintoshtoffy

      While Gates was never really a people person - I guess that was a by-product of his mild Autism - but under his leadership, things got done and new ideas were allowed to develop and flourish. One only has to look at how entrenched those flagship products developed in that era still remain so. Now we may not always like how that was achieved (although MS was far from being the only company to employ such tactics, before the trolls jump in!), but at least things got done. With Ballmer however, MS continues to go around in circles.

      I think one of the critical factors in the differences btwn how MS has fared under the two leaders comes down to the fact that Gates actually understood the technology behind the product; he was hands-on from the top to the bottom. He understood the technical aspects of his products. Ballmer simply does not and so leads MS all over the place, never really having any comprehension about how keep the innovative edge.

      MS really needs to go back to grass roots, and to do that they need an innovator at the helm, and one who actually has a background in the technology at hand.
      kaninelupus
  • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

    Leaves me encouraged! The Kin UI was great and now they can take that and mesh it with Microsoft Windows Phone 7. They know people were quite curious about the Kin given all the press it received. What killed it was Verizon's $30 data plan. If it wasn't for that you would see the Kin really dominating in feature phones.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

      @Loverock Davidson: But this "leaving customers high and dry" is something they've done before (Plays For Sure) and isn't very pretty. Microsoft can often feel uncaring and cloddish (ask anyone who bought Windows Vista Ultimate about all the "Ultimate Extras" - but stand well back when you do).

      They should never have released Kin, OR they should standby the product - but you can't have it both ways.
      Jeremy-UK
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @Jeremy-UK
        Its not leaving customers high and dry. Its Verizon that charged way too much, that is not the fault of Microsoft.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Does Microsoft's Kin decision leave you encouraged or worried?

        @Loverock Davidson<br><br>The $30 data plan was a huge mistake, but the Kin was DOA also with all its missing features. Also lets not forget MS defended this data plan. Stop defending!<br><br>Apple got AT&T to bend for them way before the iPhone were released; and even for the iPad with its data plan option. MS couldn't get Verizon to bend just a little?
        dave95.