For a trend named one of the top five of the year by Read Write Web, the mobile market certainly has Microsoft scrambling. Just six weeks into its launch, Microsoft has killed the Kin, its answer mobile effort geared toward the youth market. Maybe it was due to low sales, or expensive data plans, or the fact that Microsoft just isn’t hip enough to capture the teen market, but the Kin just never took off.
The Kin rose from Microsoft’s $500M acquisition of Danger back in 2008. This move was supposed to firm up the company’s floundering mobile strategy and provide a channel into the young, internet savvy and social customer market. Did Microsoft’s stogy corporate culture take over and stamp out the innovation the Danger team was known for? For now the Kin team has been rolled into the Windows Phone7 team and will work toward bringing this device to market.
How does the death of the Kin change impact the mobile market? Well, we’re seeing the same challenges in the mobile market that we saw with computer operating systems a few years ago. The dominant players (Windows, Palm and Blackberry) are being pushed out by the innovators (Apple, Google). Competition in the mobile market is heating up and the focus it less and less on the core features (making calls and being productive) and more and more on the new paradigm of productivity based on richer interactions and an embodiment of technology that integrates with human needs. These are features that the iPhone and Android phones currently bring to the table. How will Microsoft fare? That depends on what approach they take with Windows Phone7? Will it be another Zune, or will it deliver something new and viable? Early reports are promising, but a lot will depend on what makes the cut and how successful Microsoft is in pulling together the hardware partners, the Marketplace and carrier partners to pull ahead of the Android and iPhone – which both have a substantial head start.