Oh Kin, we hardly knew ye. It seemed like a good gamble. Rather than trying to come out with the next iPhone killer (which we have yet to see, by the way), Microsoft decided to focus on a niche market—social networking. Smart, right? I mean, who isn’t on Facebook or Twitter nowadays? Even my grandma has a Facebook account, and tons of people have created Twitter accounts for their pets, tweeting from the animals’ perspective. So when Microsoft decided to launch two little social networking devices, it seemed like they’d hit upon a brilliant marketing strategy. But much the way Google botched their handling of the Nexus One, Microsoft dropped the ball on the Kin, and has now decided to kill it.
The story of the Kin is long and complicated. It dates back to Microsoft acquiring the company Danger, and using the work it did on the Sidekick platform. Apparently that, at least in part, is what led to the Sidekick data loss debacle, caused by a server failure and resulting in customers receiving compensation in the form of a month’s worth of free data service and $100 gift cards to use toward T-Mobile products or services. Um, thanks?
Anyway, that entire episode passed without much more incident once most of the data was recovered, and Microsoft, their new subsidiary Danger, and the carrier chosen to sell and service the Kin, Verizon, moved on to launch the Kin. It was aimed at teenagers and young adults who the companies thought wouldn’t have as much use for full blown smartphones, and would mostly want to focus on being able to make and take calls, and of course, network socially.
That’s probably true, and it might have worked had the Kin and its service plans not been priced like smartphones capable of ten times more than the Kin. Just last week, Verizon dropped the price of both Kin models, which was an indication of how poorly it was doing. For a carrier to lower the price of a device within the first couple months of its launch is not good. With this news of the Kin going away completely, it seems more like an attempt to get rid of inventory than to give customers a good deal.
Verizon will continue to sell the Kin and provide service plans for it, but it will no longer be manufactured. So if you don’t mind paying smartphone plan prices for a limited device, go for it. But I think you’re better off buying a device that will give you your money’s worth.