What was the kin point of that?
No company gets it right every time - even the charmed Apple has an abortive product launch from time to time - but it still comes as a bit of a shock when one of the biggest companies in the world produces a complete turkey.
It's hard to conclude anything else about Microsoft's Kin - its own-branded handset using the cloud services platform acquired with Danger. When Kin finally launched earlier this year, the handset itself was relatively low-featured, but high-priced. Furthermore it was a Windows Mobile product launched a few months before Windows Phone 7 was due to make an appearance.
If Microsoft was going to take on the many, many incumbents in the smartphone market it needed to not only have the cloud services USP, the Kin needed to be priced at a level that would entice people into taking a chance on this unproven brand. It wasn't.
So we weren't too surprised to hear that Microsoft won't be continuing with the development of the Kin and won't even be bringing the existing ones over here at all. Here's the official Microaoft statement on the matter:
"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 and beyond. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones."
The Kin always felt like a bit of a guinea pig device - effectively a public beta of the Danger cloud technology. And that's the spin Microsoft is putting on the abortion of this project; that Windows Phone 7 devices will benefit from the lessons learned from Kin.
This is a valid perspective. One of the areas in which WP7 promises to differentiate itself in a savagely competitive smartphone OS market is integration with cloud services for Microsoft products like Office and Xbox. If the Kin experience, means the WP7 cloud offering is stronger as a result of Kin, then the project can't be viewed as a complete failure.
The thing that continues to baffle us, however, is its price. Surely getting as many end-users as possible to use Kin was far more valuable to Microsoft than any profit it might have hoped to make per handset. It should have just treated the hardware as a loss-leader and offered the handsets at an impulse-purchase price. Then it would at least have a large install-base and greater visibility. But what do we know?