Microsoft today announced that they are phasing out the KIN platform, bringing a quick end to Microsoft’s fourth (incompatible) Windows Phone platform.
KIN was Microsoft’s attempt to do what Windows Mobile Standard failed to do; offer a smartphone that was cheap and attractive to consumers and teenagers. The phone was powered by Windows CE, but incompatible with Microsoft’s three other Windows Phone platforms (Windows Mobile 6.5.3, Windows Embedded Handheld, and Windows Phone 7).
Microsoft’s goal was to leverage these four platforms, and over time create software that would allow them to exist equally in the marketplace. With Windows Mobile being phased out, Microsoft had hoped to create a universal SDK that would allow developers to chose APIs that targeted each device. In Microsoft’s plan, a developer could make a basic game (eventually) that would run on both KIN and Windows Phone 7. Or, they could write an app that catered to business users on Windows Embedded Handheld, as well as Windows Phone 7.
That plan remains largely intact with this change, KIN’s features will be rolled into Windows Phone 7 via software updates. Windows Phone 7 will eventually be able to access KIN’s Loop and other social networking features.
As to KIN itself, Microsoft has committed to continuing to sell the device as-is, and will offer a major software update later this summer. Beyond that, it appears Microsoft will continue to sell the phone in a similar fashion to the T-Mobile Sidekick; as long as there are buyers willing to purchase the device.
The death of KIN marks at least the hardware-side’s end to Roz Ho’s multi-billion dollar expedition by Microsoft to find some purpose for the acquired Danger corporation. Danger was able to combine cheap hardware with social networking features, as well as attractive data plans.
Attractive data plans appear to be where KIN failed the most. Faced with a phone that would use massive amounts of data to share media, Verizon chose to require smartphone data pricing. In its current form, KIN does not yet have an App Store, and resembles a feature phone in many respects. While Microsoft had planned to remedy that down the line, sluggish sales had forced the company to face facts; a Palm Pre Plus, complete with 3G Mobile Hotspot and a full App Catalog… cost the same as a basic KIN phone with contract.
Other losers in KIN’s demise appear to be Sharp and PCD. Sharp handled manufacturing for KIN and Sidekick alike, and was their lone mobile phone offering in the United States. PCD handled device adaptation for both Sidekick and KIN, operating as a bridge between Microsoft in the US, and Sharp in Japan.