Kin's Fate Foretells Windows Phone 7's Future? - InformationWeek
12:50 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry

Kin's Fate Foretells Windows Phone 7's Future?

On Wednesday Microsoft killed the Kin a mere 48 days after launch. It makes you wonder how much Microsoft will be behind Windows Phone 7.

On Wednesday Microsoft killed the Kin a mere 48 days after launch. It makes you wonder how much Microsoft will be behind Windows Phone 7.The shock here isn't that the Kin is dead. It was a mediocre platform at best, though it had potential. It is that Microsoft didn't even give it two months. Even though millions of dollars were spent on it and tens of thousands of hours put into its development, MS walked away from it as if it were an abandoned product past its prime.

Part of the problem was the device itself. It seemed to be a love it or hate it device, and more fell into the latter group rather than the former. It was a social networking device that didn't support retweets or seeing your @replies in one place. Forget making appointments with it because there was no calendar.

Another problem was the data plans Verizon saddled it with. You basically got a feature phone with full blown smartphone data prices. Combined with the mandated voice plans, this was a $70 per month phone.

Still, in and of themselves, none of these issues were fatal or unfixable. Microsoft could have remedied many of the OS shortcomings with updates. Verizon would either eventually get wise and quit gouging the customer with these absurd plans for this phone, or another carrier could have picked it up with plans that made sense.

Instead, Microsoft backed away, in high gear. Part of it may be that today is their year end. If fiscal year ending June 30, 2010 is going to be a bad one for MS, might as well through in all of the bad news, which includes writing off the Kin line.

It does make you wonder though about their commitment to Windows Phone 7. Microsoft kept funding their Windows CE devices, which later became the Pocket PC and most recently, Windows Mobile. From 2000-2006 it was a reasonably successful line, ultimately toppling Palm as king of the PDA market. Yeah, I know, Palm helped greatly by riding the success of their decade old OS into the ground, but you get my point. Microsoft persevered until it won.

It doesn't do that so much anymore with their consumer oriented products. Encarta, Money, Courier and now the Kin just to name a few. I seriously wonder about the longevity of Zune media players as standalone devices. I also wonder just how committed Microsoft is to WP7. It will not be a winner in year one, or year two. It has a staggering task ahead of it to catch up to and surpass either the iPhone or Android, and it will require serious capital and effort to stand a chance of doing so.

Will Microsoft stick it out? Without a doubt, Bill Gate's Microsoft from 2000 would have done it. Bill Gates is no longer there and the Microsoft of 2010 is quite different. It seems to have a much shorter view of things, and as a consumer, that means you need to consider that before you invest your time and money into one of their products - besides Windows and Office of course.

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