Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

Summary: Microsoft has pulled the plug on KIN less than two months after it went live. What does this mean for Microsoft's commitment to Windows Phone 7?


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.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Verizon, Windows

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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  • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

    I always though that Microsoft is spreading its effort on mobile too thin with too many products. From that perspective, I expected KIN to be DOA since the beginning. Hopefully, this keep Microsoft focus on Windows Phone 7; it's something from Microsoft that I am excited about in a very long time.
  • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

    Absolutely great for Microsoft Windows Phone 7. They put the Kin out there to test the waters, saw how pleased people were with the UI, and decided it'd be best to put those in with Microsoft Window Phone 7.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

      @Loverock Davidson: Now THAT's a fantasy!

      (otherwise, kindly explain why the price dropped like a rock...)
      • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

        I like to call it reality. The price drop was because Verizon screwed them over with the data plan.
        Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

      @Loverock Davidson

      Are you nuts? Betting on MS has become a losing venture. Microsoft never does anything for free unless a competing product forces them too. They have NO ETHICS...Most likely, Mobile 7 will do some things that the Droid or the iPhone does and take a small segment of the market share abusing the fan boys that like paying top dollar for any type of MS crap. But even if it becomes the greatest phone in the world; as soon as you come to rely on it, they'll start screwing with you.

      Microsoft fan boys need to pay attention and learn from the "kin". No matter how good Mobile 7 is, don't buy it. Only three months and all those people that bought a Kin (just because it was Microsoft) now have a phone the company won't support, on a minimum of a two year contract, with less features than a smart phone, but at the same monthly cost.
      • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

        Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is going to be a key player in the mobile market. They are going to have a lot of developers and therefore a lot of apps. Apps are what sells the device, and if Microsoft stays true to what it said about being able to program for any Windows device then the developers will just need to write once and run anywhere. Microsoft learned from their mistake of dealing with Verizon. Verizon forced a data plan on their phones and that's why the Kin is no more.
        Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

      @Loverock Davidson Very good information .... Thanks guy...
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  • Windows Phone 7 is next to die

    Here's why Windows Phone 7 will be axed soon after release, just like Kin. Both are missing vital features (eg Copy & Paste). Both came with high price tags (WP7 will be high due to hardware costs). Both could not match Android and iPhone.
  • One more example that MS doesn't get mobile

    If Engadget's "inside information" is correct, Microsoft's mobile strategy has been a mess for years. While it sounds like focusing on Windows Phone 7 alone may help, their big problem is that they've ceded too much of the mobile segment to Apple and Android. WP7 will debut at least a year behind other mobile OSes, and have to compete in a much more crowded marketplace. With another failure outside of their Windows/Office cash cow core, MS needs WP7 be a hit right out of the gate, and does anyone in their right mind really think it will be?
    • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

      People change phones constantly. The fact that Android can come fast and upstage the iPhone does show that the smartphone market does not have the same dynamics as the PC industry. This is both Microsoft's strength and weakness at the same time. It is a strength because the right product with the right marketing can quickly capture lots of mindshare, and it is a weakness because Microsoft is not organized to be as nimble as it needs to be in the smartphone market. In addition, WP7 is following too closely the iPhone paradigm, instead of trying to marry the capabilities of Windows Mobile 6.5 with a new and powerful interface. I fear that starting from the beginning is a major mistake, but we shall see.
  • Definitely a good move

    When Microsoft launched Kin, I wondered why Microsoft rolled out such a ugly, unexciting device. With CEO of MS entertainment division fired and Kin devices discontinued, Microsoft is on the right track again.
  • The Kin was an afterthought.

    It's clear that the product was really not well thought out. It felt more like a "me-too" entry into this market, which, being so competitive, was bound to squish the kin with cheaper and better products which [i]already exist[/i]. What on earth were they thinking?
  • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

    Is KIN really dead? I thought they just decided not to launch in Europe at this time. The website is still there.

    What are the facts?
  • I was telling a friend last week that Kin was DOA

    how right I was. Microsoft should have been focused on improving what they offered for phones over the last 7 years. All of us who had numerous Windows phone cried and complained and all we got was Windows Mobile and all it did was crash a lot, but the features where there too bad the reliability was not.<br><br>I got so sick of them that about 2 years ago I went back to a basic featureless non Smart phone - just so I could have a phone that did something crazy - it just worked. <br><br>Now that I got an Android Microsoft can forget it. They might as well leave this segment of the market to their betters. It's one thing to give people crappy OS for their computers, it's another to give them a phone that does not work.
  • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

    If Windows 7 is indicative of Microsoft's present course, there is hope yet for Windows Phone 7.
  • Thank GOD!

    The KIN is dead. I fault Verizon as much as I do MS. The data plan was incredibly expensive for a parent to purchase for little Joey or Sally.

    Some of the features were nice, like the Cloud Services. WM7 will take the few good features of the KIN and incorporate them into their latest device. That's really the only good to come out of this mess.

    WM7 is something I am excited about, however. The SmartPhone market is still growing exponentially and come this Fall people will roll off their plans and have to choose a phone. Android grew amazingly fast and I don't see no reason why WM7 won't.

    I personnally believe that MS is getting it right with WM7. The phone is simply sick. If you've seen videos of this phone it has killer social networking, XBOX Live integration, MS Office and Exchange that are second to none, and a fantastic UI. Granted it won't have a few features other phones have, but the current feature list is staggering and future updates will provide those features that will be missing upon release (copy/paste, 3rd party multitasking). I can't wait to get a WM7 phone this Fall and it WILL be a player in the smarphone market.
  • RE: Is the death of the KIN a good thing for Windows Phone 7?

    Problem is with the current decision mechanism in Microsoft. Post-Gates term unfortunately is having tough times whether new projects will be feasible, best-selling etc. During MS decision-making gatherings, meetings Apple, Google are making their own and entering the market MS is thinking of.
    Remembering the pre-Gates era of aggressive marketing techniques, Origami-like sets, leadership in Windows-based mobile sets is explaining everything in my humble opinion.