After some staunch criticism from key gadget-centric bloggers and press, the Microsoft Kin platform -- launched just less than a month ago -- is getting a price cut.
It's not Verizon that's doing the cutting; it's Best Buy. Best Buy is making the Kin 1 available for free and the Kin 2 for $50. (No ridiculous mail-in rebates required.) Verizon is still selling the phones for $50 and $100, respectively.
Yes, the data plan for Microsoft's phones aimed at the teen/20-something market is still pricey, but at least the phones aren't if you get them at Best Buy.
"The price cuts could help: they make the Kin 1 a free phone, and while it's not as functional as a high-end smartphone, it's better than a lot of the basic phones that most carriers give away for free," said Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff. "The data plan still seems a bit steep, but if it's purchased in the context of a family plan, it's not so bad."
While Microsoft has been trying to downplay the differences between the Kins and other Windows Phones, the different operating systems they run and the fact that no apps are available for the Kins has led many to scratch their heads about Microsoft's wisdom in further diluting the Windows Phone brand at the very time the company is attempting to consolidate its mobile marketing message and strategy. Microsoft Regional Director Andrew Brust, in an open letter to CEO Steve Ballmer about Microsoft's consumer strategy, suggested Microsoft "kill the Kin quietly."
"I think Microsoft is committed to seeing the Kin through and giving it the best possible chance to succeed at market, but I really think that Windows Phone 7 is the core of the company's smartphone strategy, and I'd expect most of the company's energy to go into promoting that platform once it comes out," said Rosoff.
What do you think? Is the Kin a help or a hindrance, in terms of Microsoft's attempt to reverse its eroding mobile market share?