Microsoft has discontinued its Kin line, pulling back on a mobile device campaign aimed at teens. Low sales numbers is the reason Microsoft has given for its decision to discontinue the Kin just 6 weeks after a heavily promoted push, though the move probably does little to detract Microsoft from its long-term goals within the mobile industry. The Kin had a slew of hiccups that led to its demise, but there are a few lessons for Microsoft to learn.
The software provider’s decision to run its own operating system on the Kin was one mistake, reportedly delaying its release. The higher pricing was also an issue, as a phone requiring a data plan is often out of the range of its target market. Wedged between a smartphone and a toy, the Kin was a victim of bad timing–it had set sail in a violently growing sea of socially connected smartphones. PCWorld hints at Microsoft’s next steps, saying,
“Microsoft sad it will continue to sell the Kin though Verizon (it probably has plenty of the initial stock left over), but the company said that it is now exclusively focusing on the Windows Phone 7 operating system, arriving later this year. Let’s hope Microsoft has better luck with that one.”
Will Kin be rolled into Windows Mobile projects, or has Microsoft just cut its ties? Considering the number of devices the company is looking to integrate with in the next twelve months, it’s likely that we’ll see an improved device launch from Microsoft. Admittedly, I didn’t expect Kin to get deadpooled so quickly. It has launched some rather improved devices in the past few months, from other manufacturers like HTC.
While the Kin was a fun experiment, it’s clear that a device and its target market must match up. The need to maintain its own platform and devices is a constant sticking point for Microsoft. This has been the case for Microsoft all along, and the story is playing out again on the mobile stage.
As far as Kinect goes, timing is becoming an issue there as well. Getting a product out on the market for the regular gamers has been another issue for Microsoft, at least within the needed time frame. The question of whether or not the Kinect will be most appealing to casual gamers only brings up the issue of missing the target market again.
This is a lesson businesses can learn from, particularly as it pertains to the decision-making process around choosing a mobile platform. The variables around mobile marketing and app development are growing as quickly as the mobile economy itself, creating lots of opportunities, but lots of potential roadblocks as well.