Microsoft kills its ‘KIN’ for Europe, so what now?

30 Jun 2010

For a company that spends US$8bn a year on R&D, Microsoft seems to be struggling with the mobile revolution. First it ignores Bill Gates’ prophesy on tablet computing, then it kills a promising tablet computing product called ‘Courier’ and now it has killed off the KIN!

Aside from the difficulties Microsoft seems to be having at its Entertainment & Devices division – with the departure of two senior executives – Microsoft’s grasp of new opportunities in the wireless space seems to be lacking co-ordination.

This is a company that sells eight copies of its Windows 7 operating system a second!

So now we’ve been greeted with the news that someone at headquarters in Redmond, Washington, is trigger happy with the ‘kill switch’ and after just three months the KIN smartphone for teenagers has been bucketed.

In recent weeks, the software giant in the US cut the price of KIN in half.

No KIN for Europe

Last night it emerged that the KIN will definitely not be shipping in Europe.

“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned,” the company said in a statement.

“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 US to sell current KIN phones.”

So while the KIN isn’t completely killed, I have visions of motivated teams being told they are strategically irrelevant and being shunted in different directions.

According to CNET, the KIN phone was the product of several years of work that stemmed from Microsoft’s acquisition of Sidekick maker Danger and, despite innovative features like streaming music and social media, the KIN phones lacked basic features, like a calendar, and prices were as high as the iPhone or Android.

If this is the case, then the onset of Windows Phone 7 better live up to its promise. Sentiment on the web is that Microsoft is writing its own obituary when it comes to mobile and faced with successes like the iPhone 4, which sold 1.7 million devices in three days, and the Android platform, which is shipping at 160,000 a day at this stage, the pressure is on.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years