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6/30/2010
10:27 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
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Notify The Next Of Kin

There's a business strategy for new products that goes by the name of "fail fast, fail cheap". Perhaps that's the reason that Microsoft is pulling the plug on its Kin phones after just two months and one desperate price cut. But they didn't fail fast, and I doubt Kin's failure will be cheap.

There's a business strategy for new products that goes by the name of "fail fast, fail cheap". Perhaps that's the reason that Microsoft is pulling the plug on its Kin phones after just two months and one desperate price cut. But they didn't fail fast, and I doubt Kin's failure will be cheap.Remember that the Kin was a result of Microsoft's 2008 acquisition of Danger, the makers of the once-popular Sidekick phone. Two and a half years later, the Kin made it out Microsoft's door. Perhaps Kin would have worked in February 2008, when Microsoft bought Danger. But the iPhone and Android have showed that phones could be an incredible mobile platform. The Kin seems to have been built as a "better Sidekick" and that isn't something people want in 2010. At the point the Kin was released, Apple was blowing out the 3GS at $99. Verizon's monthly plans priced the Kin like a smartphone, but it's not a smartphone. Why not buy the real thing?

If you start the clock at the aquisition of Danger back in 2008, it took Microsoft more than two years to deliver its failure. In that same period of time, Apple and Android have delivered several generations of useful and functional devices. So although Microsoft pulled the plug quickly on Kin once they realized its failure, they wasted two years; that's not failing fast.

So let's look at the "fail cheap" angle. Microsoft didn't reveal the price it paid for the privately-held Danger, but it was rumored to be $500 million. Then there was the cost of the two-year-long development effort, which at this point seems like a total loss of both money and opportunity. In the post I linked to above, note the final sentence: "Given that there are a couple of devices already on the market that use Danger software (unlike Android's prototypes), Microsoft might actually be able to get some disgruntled Android developers switching to its platform." Oh, the false optimism of 2008.

Microsoft's death notice for Kin puts the best possible face on the fiasco, saying that it was integrating the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 team. Let's hope they learned enough about what they did wrong to prevent Windows Phone 7 from becoming the next of Kin.

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