The Kin is Dead, Long Live the Kin

Keep an Open Eye could not find the official announcement, but there were several hundred confirmations that Microsoft’s Kin is dead as a product. The best coverage to be found on the demise of Kin is from Engadget – What Killed the Kin. Here are some of the salient points:

It seems that after doing some initial work on these phones based around Danger’s proprietary Sidekick OS, Andy Lees — the SVP of Microsoft’s mobile division — instructed everyone to go back to the drawing board and rebuild the OS based on Windows CE. It appears the company didn’t want a project that wasn’t directly connected to its Windows kernel. This move allegedly set the release of the devices back 18 months, during which time Redmond’s carrier partner became increasingly frustrated with the delays. Apparently when it came time to actually bring the Kins to market, Big Red had soured on the deal altogether and was no longer planning to offer the bargain-basement pricing deals it first had tendered. The rest, as they say, is history …
But wait, there’s more — the Kin team is being refocused onto the WP7 project, but that’s not the only shakeup going on. Our source said there had been rumblings that Steven Sinofsky — president of the Windows and Windows Live groups — is making a play for the entire mobile division as well in an attempt to bring a unified, Windows-centric product line to market. If these rumors are true, the push inside the company could move to align all forthcoming projects with an overarching strategy that leads back to the introduction of a much more cloud- and mobile-centered Windows 8 release. This goes directly against what we heard reps preach at both WMC and MIX10 this year, where the mantra was “the phone is not a PC.” If things go according to this plan, like Ballmer said at D8, “They’re all PCs.”

This is indicative of the wrenching organzational and strategic changes going on at Redmond as light and mobile takes mindshare and increasing chunks of market share in consumer computing. Now the probability of Windows 7 Phone making a Christmas debut may be wavering.

But Microsoft is not alone. Consider the problems at Cupertino where the Apple Mac PC developers have had to endure high 2x and 3x price points just when Windows was so vulnerable; yet the Mac OS X developers are vulnerable since they have yet to match Windows on the graphics performance by a factor of 30% or more despite having identically the same hardware[CPU, GPU, RAM and hard disk] to work with. And the Palm people at HP with some of their ranks depleted will also be under the gun to deliver webOS on not just an HP Phone but also a tablet or printer interface as as well.  And will RIM and Intel/Nokia be able to deliver  timely touch+gesture OS updates to their product lines. Clearly, the light and mobile heat is on across the Tech industry.

Update July 06, 2010:NYTimes has a feature article on the demise of the Kin coming on the heels of the Courier termination, the Vista disaster, and the shortfall of a number of other consumer products. Tim O’Reilly is cited to support the argument that Microsoft software costs more and does not provide instant and complete availability, nor access to as many platforms as Open Source software lead by Google and others. In effect, Microsoft has lost and is losing a generation of software developers – tough argument and how completely true will determine how well Redmond recovers from its current innovation trough.

Original Story Published: July 1, 2010

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