What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

Summary: So, two months following launch, Microsoft pulls the plug on its Kin platform (can't call it a smartphone ... phone maybe, or dumbphone ... suggestions please). The handset was aimed at tweens and teenagers, but was pricey and came shackled to a painfully expensive contract. It was Microsoft's latest "me too" product, and now it's all but sunk without a trace.What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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So, two months following launch, Microsoft pulls the plug on its Kin platform (can't call it a smartphone ... phone maybe, or dumbphone ... suggestions please). The handset was aimed at tweens and teenagers, but was pricey and came shackled to a painfully expensive contract. It was Microsoft's latest "me too" product, and now it's all but sunk without a trace.

What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

Sidenote: I can't think of another Microsoft product, or one from such a high profile company, that got the legs knocked out from under it as quickly as Kin got toppled.

It's hard to know for sure why Microsoft pulled the plug on the handset. I tend to agree with Jon Honeyball over at PC Pro who thinks that the death of Kin coming mere hours before the end of the financial year for the Redmond giant is far from a coincidence. After all, the whole project can't have been cheap. Microsoft spend $500 million acquiring mobile services company Danger, and could have easily spent another $500 million on the project as a whole. That's a huge bonfire of cash. I can see why Microsoft would want to draw a line underneath the project if it was a commercial failure. But the sudden pulling of the plug shows that Microsoft had no long-term faith in being able to turn things around. It realized that Kin was a mistake - a big mistake - and put an end to it.

Another problem with Kin was that the project pushed Microsoft way outside of its comfort zone in terms of core competences. The tweens and teens market is a new one for Microsoft, and it blundered in seemingly with little clue as to what it was doing. My guess is that Microsoft was trying to make a follow-on to the Sidekick, but Sidekick was cool a few years ago, before the iPhone and before the Droid. Times have changed.

Also, lets face it, the two Kin handsets were ugly bits of engineering. Might seem superficial, but considering the market they were aimed at, it was a critical point.

This isn't the first product to erode from under Microsoft this year. Earlier we had Courier and the HP Slate. Looking back I'm not entirely sure if either of these products were actually serious products, or more of an attempt at FUDing away some of the iPad hype.

The death of Kin leaves me with some important questions for Microsoft relating to Windows Phone 7. First is how can developers, who Microsoft are hoping to entice over to the WP7 platform, have any confidence in that platform? Sure, Microsoft is giving all sort of reassurances that its energies are now being diverted to WP7, but until yesterday the message was that it was pushing Kin and WP7 as separate platforms (with some vague convergence point somewhere in the future). Words ...

Another question is who now, knowing the fate of Kin, will be happy to be a WP7 early adopter? It's not so much questioning the validity of WP7, but more Microsoft's approach to the hardware side of things. Microsoft is only really interested in the licensing money for the OS, which means it farms out the hardware to a bunch of third-party OEMs. These OEMs want to make the cheapest product possible so farm out manufacturing to the lowest bidder. What does this all mean? That ultimately there's little or no difference between a WP7 handset from one vendor or another, making the whole endeavour a race to the bottom.

Thirdly, how has this soured relations between Verizon and Microsoft? Hard to imagine there being no fallout on that front.

Finally, what do shareholders make of this? A billion dollars down the pan is a lot of dough to blow on a project that sees light for two month.

The sudden rise and fall of the Kin is a clear pointer to the fact that Microsoft has no clear mobile strategy. The company is flailing wildly, throwing money about like it's a solution to everything. It isn't. the phrase that lingers in my head to describe Microsoft's current mobile plan is "here today, gone tomorrow ...".

Topic: Microsoft

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77 comments
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  • Yes, this is a HUGE PR blunder on top of all the other problems.

    This just reinforces with developers and OEMs that Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7, or whatever marketing wants to call it is NOT viable.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

      @DonnieBoy

      Double post? I'm guessing you have nothing else to say? Lol, Donnie-Donnie :p
      Tola1005
      • Actually, I have quite a lot to say. This is a HUGE fail for Microsoft.

        This will just cement in the minds of OEMs and developers that Windows Phone 7 is going NOWHERE. This will force MS to PAY millions to release Windows Phone 7 phones. This will force MS to PAY millions to iPhone developers to get them to port applications to Windows Phone 7.

        Now, what do YOU have to say about the Kin failure????
        DonnieBoy
    • RE: What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

      @DonnieBoy

      http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-84642-1606991. There you have it.
      Tola1005
  • And, where are all of the Windows propeller heads that said how GREAT Kin

    was, and that it was a huge success, and that it would be around for a long time. Just exactly where are they????????????????
    DonnieBoy
    • back

      @DonnieBoy
      back in their cave, i suppose ;-)
      banned from zdnet
      • Yes, I imagine that the are checking out caves in Afghanistan, stocking up

        on printers, 8.5x11 paper. WHAT A BUNCH OF FREAKING IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        DonnieBoy
    • RE: What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

      @DonnieBoy
      IdiotBoy, we are here. I think calling you as an idiotboy is right for us when you started name calling us. Kin is no doubt a successful phone technically. If it wasn't with Verizon exclusivity, it would have been a successful. Everyone in the field knows about it. And we all were saying that majority of kids are not economically independent and during the times of hardship with economy no parent would let their kids have a voracious bill from Verizon for just socializing online using mobile. Verizon should have realized this and Microsoft should have negotiated with them. Were you deaf? If you really read into the original posts from us, you would have realized by now. At least Microsoft has some originality with Windows Mobile, IIN and Windows Phone. What do you same with your leader's product, it is nothing but copy cat. They simply stole ideas from Microsoft, Apple (sitting in the board, which is nothing but backstabbing).
      Ram U
      • Why would Microsoft be so stupid to sign such a STUUUPID deal with Verizon.

        And, no reason to cancel the phone, just move to another carrier, if Kin is any good.

        But, we know the reason for all this. Kin is freaking JUNK, hardware and software. Stop making excuses.
        DonnieBoy
      • Another great MS product killed

        right;-)
        Richard Flude
      • Don't Fault the Hardware! Danger is Awesome!

        @DonnieBoy You can blame Verizon for having too many hot selling Android devices for it to compete with right now. You can also rightly blame Microsoft for their bad timing. Including the half baked last gen OS they put on it. But I don't think the party is over for Microsoft just yet. If this device would have had Windows Phone 7 on it, it would have been a different story! ....as it is, their fans are simply waiting for Windows Phone 7's actual release on a device like the HTC 1.3ghz Mondrian!<br><br>I don't care for Microsoft myself, but I love fair competition. That doesn't go out spreading nails on the road behind it.... like Apple!!! ....Steve is the king of the SUCKER PUNCH!<br><br>But they've got the whole gang after them now and the take down ain't going to be pretty. Let's see how many companies are they fighting against? ....oh about a 20 or so! haha... with names like Intel, Google, Nokia, RIM, Microsoft, Motorola, Dell, HP/Palm, Samsung, HTC, etc and so forth. One thing to remember, is people don't like bullies and they usually get beat to pulp in a dog pile gang bang!<br><br>I just hope Jobs has brains enough to take his glasses off, because it won't stop 'em from taking out their revenge on the Arrogant Little Creep! ....and it'll happen just when his iPhone4 loses it's connection as he tries to call 911! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
        i2fun@...
      • Should that not be iDiotBoy?

        @Rama.NET
        Seems more fitting!

        @iDiotBoy....
        Stop your damned flaming a get a life! Better yet, climb out of your grandmother's basement and breathe some fresh air; it might help to clear those sinuses and blow away some of your bad attitudes.

        How can anyone ever have an informed discussion/debate with the likes of yourself cramming the boards with spiteful ripostes?? Seriously mate; if you can't participate in an adult conversation with at least a semblance of maturity, then go put on that dunce's hat and stand in the corner with all your friends!
        kaninelupus
      • I owned the KIN and Returned it for a Droid Incredible.

        I had the KIN for three weeks and realized I made a major mistake with that phone. When I saw the Droid Incredible, it did everything the KIN could do social networking wise and much more. No, it didn't do the ZUNE. But, I already have ZUNE HD. Also, it has pandora and works pretty well. I made my decision to go to the Droid Incredible based on the Microsoft KIN. I realize I didn't like the direction they were going with this. And, plus, the software was crap. Application were constantly crashing. It was clearly not ready and rushed to the market. What's sad is WP7 is not ready either. For example no Cut and Paste. Really Microsoft! That's such a small feature and it will be missing. Fire Steve Ballmer and hire Ray Ozzie!
        NeoZon@...
      • RE: What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

        @Rama.NET " If it wasn't with Verizon exclusivity, it would have been a successful. "

        I'm sorry, but you are an idiot. Anyone not working for Microsoft knew this thing was DOA. It's a joke, and never should have seen the light of day.
        His_Shadow
    • I never heard ANYBODY say that...

      @DonnieBoy : Who said that?
      tricktytom
    • The reason DonnieBoy was so good at knowing that the Kin would be a flop:

      @DonnieBoy

      I suppose you knew it was gonna be a flop 'cause you're part of the market? When do you turn 12, anyway?
      evilkillerwhale@...
    • RE: What the hell is going on at Microsoft?

      @DonnieBoy I can't remember anyone saying Kin would be a great success. Windows Phone 7 on the other hand is a different story.
      jhughesy
  • Microsoft will have HUGE problems attracting OEMs to use Windows Phone 7.

    MS will have to pay them a small fortune to release Windows Phone 7 phones, just like they are paying a small fortune to get iPhone developers to write for Windows Phone 7. All MS can do right now, is throw hundreds of millions at this, and that will still not be enough to make a difference.
    DonnieBoy
    • The Triumphant Decline of Microsoft

      @DonnieBoy

      Sweet!!!
      OS Reload
      • EPIC FAIL for the Borg Collective

        I savor any failure by the most intrusive monopoly out there.
        ahh so