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6/30/2010
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Microsoft Kills Kin Phone

Engineers working on the handset will transfer to the Windows Phone 7 development team.

Microsoft said Wednesday it has stopped work on the Kin to focus "exclusively" on Windows Phone 7, the company's new smartphone operating system that's scheduled to ship later this year. The Kin was built and promoted to attract a younger, social networking-oriented audience.

Microsoft KIN Phone
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft KIN Phone

"We are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases," the company said in a statement emailed to InformationWeek.

Microsoft planned to continue working with Verizon Wireless, which offers the Kin, to sell the remaining stock in the United States.

Microsoft did not offer a reason for pushing the power-off button on the Kin, which the software maker launched May 13. However, the announcement came one day after Verizon dramatically reduced prices of its two Kin models.

The Kin One, the lower-end model, dropped from $50 to $30, while the Kin Two, went from $100 to $50. Both prices included a $100 mail-in rebate and two-year service contract.

Analysts had said that Microsoft had a tough sell with the Kin, which fell in between a feature phone and smartphone. More expensive than many feature phones, but without the capabilities of a smartphone, the Kin was considered in market limbo.

Microsoft and Verizon have not released sales figures for the Kin, but The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous sources, said the company shelved the Kin, because the handset did not meet sales expectations.

In attempt to attract a younger audience, Microsoft had emphasized in the Kin text messaging, status updates, e-mail, camera and video features. However, unlike the Apple iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android OS, the Kin did not offer the ability to run third-party applications or include a navigation system for more advanced mapping applications.

One of the Kin features that has received positive review is its Studio Web service, which automatically uploads everything created on the phone to Microsoft servers. This includes photos, videos text messages, and social media updates. Users can access the information through a web interface.

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