It's been a week since Microsoft took its two fledgling Kin smartphones for a ride and left them sleepin' wid da fishes. The fallout is still coming.
(OK, "smartphones" is too strong. Average-intelligence-with excellent-citizenship-grades phones is more like it. Read JR Raphael's mock Kin obituary for the ugly details.)
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Depending on whether you're a glass half-full or glass half-empty type, you can see the Kin killings as a positive sign (Microsoft is finally getting serious about the mobile market) or further examples of Redmond's ineptitude (no. 347 in a series).
Me, I'm more of a "this glass is cracked and it isn't what I ordered anyway -- where's the damned vodka?" type, so I see the Kin debacle as yet more evidence Microsoft is a deeply schizophrenic company that should have been institutionalized a decade ago. Yet it continues to stagger on, supported by the enormous profits from enterprises locked in a Windows and Office stranglehold.
What exactly was wrong with the Kin? Peter Bright at Ars Technica writes:
Kin, like the Sidekick before it, was a device aimed at teenagers and young adults. It should have been cheap to buy and cheap to operate. But it wasn't. The pricing was, frankly, nuts: $150 for the Kin One or $200 for the Kin Two (albeit with a $100 mail-in rebate available for both) along with call plans that started at $60/month. From day one, it didn't stand a chance. Though the hardware prices were slashed, the plans remained prohibitively expensive.
Over at Mini-Microsoft, a kind of blowing-off-steam blog for anonymous Redmond refugees, they're saying the Kin may replace Microsoft Bob as the lamest Microsoft product ever released. I'm not sure I agree with that, but it certainly belongs in the same conversation. (Don't worry, Bob, you'll always have a special place in our hearts.)
Mini-Microsoft offers a sobering view into what the Microsofties really think about their company and its prospects in the mobile arena, where its market share has dropped like a bowling ball in a wet shopping bag. In 2008, three out of 10 smartphones ran a Microsoft operating system. These days, it's about one in 10, and as more groovy Android phones come out, that number will only shrink.