Two years after development began, and six weeks after release, Microsoft has killed the Kin phones to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7.
The Kin phones began life when Microsoft acquired Danger, makers of the popular Sidekick phone, in 2008. It was at that point the company committed to developing its own smartphone which it hoped would compete with the iPhone and BlackBerry.
Project Pink took shape, with little known about the actual products except that they’d be a new version of the Sidekick. In October 2009, the first real details emerged, with images of two phones respectively named Turtle and Pure hit the Web.
The phones were eventually unveiled in April 2010, renamed Kin One and Kin Two but looking exactly the same as the devices displayed six months previously. The Kin phones then went on sale in May, although the early reviews indicated there was no guarantee of success.
And that has proved to be the case, with very few handsets having been sold in the U.S., with Verizon’s monthly contract pricing seen as a calamitously ambitious and overpriced.
Six weeks on, June 30, and Engadget reported that the Kin phones are dead. Microsoft released an official statement declaring:
We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch 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.
In a nutshell, Kin is dead, although Microsoft still intends to sell what stock there already is in the States.
The obvious point to make is that Microsoft is trying to refocus its business, and in terms of mobile, that means Windows Phone 7. I have no doubts that some elements of the Kin phones will turn up in Windows Phone 7 in some form or another, but apart from those that do, Microsoft has little to show for its acquisition of Danger.
With Courier being canned, some high-profile departures, and now the Kin having a very short life span, it’s safe to assume that Microsoft is in a state of flux internally at present. Let’s just hope it emerges out the other side in good shape and with some fresh new ideas.