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.