It was an astonishing 48 days of nonstop advertising from Microsoft, Sharp and Verizon for their newest media baby, the Kin One and Kin Two. At the end of the 48 days, however, Microsoft has pulled the plug on its project citing poor sales. With over 2 years of development and million and millions of dollars in marketing, how could Microsoft kill its creation in just 6 weeks?
A Microsoft rep said in a statement,
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. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.
Hit the break for what went wrong.
While it is logical that Microsoft would fold its developers and features into the full version of Windows Phone 7 due out later this year, it still doesn't explain what could have ended a 2 year project in 48 days. Many have speculated that sales were so low they could have been in the 500 unit range. Now, no one has officially confirmed or denied the number (Microsoft and Verizon aren't talking numbers at all on this one), what we can say is that the Kin's Facebook app, which is logged through Facebook, has 8,810 active users. Some of those users are obviously Microsoft employees and their families, but it certainly suggests more than 500 units made it off store shelves.
Another suggestion is Verizon's decision to consider the Kin lineup smartphones, despite their lack of even common features, such as a calendar. This classification meant the data plan for the phone aimed at teenagers would be $30 per month. When the cheapest plan you can get for a simple social phone is $70 per month for talk, text and web, it isn't going to be a winner in the eyes of the parents of the 14-year-olds who want the phone. Add to that a $99 price tag (after rebate) for the stripped-down model and you have the makings of a disaster.
The death of the Kin raises a lot of questions about Microsoft's view of the mobile landscape. After purchasing Danger, the makers of the T-Mobile Sidekick, for several million dollars a few years ago, the only thing we have seen out of that department was a major data loss that left many customers without the contacts and other data. Oh, and an officially licensed Motorola Sidekick Slide that was the worst Sidekick ever. What we don't see anymore is the sale of Sidekicks.
With the folding of employees from Kin to Windows Phone 7, hopefully we will see some of the creative services (namely The Studio) make their way into WinPho and the whole team might learn something about what to do and what not to do.