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Kin You Believe It? Microsoft Hangs Up New Phones

by Avie Schneider
Jul 1, 2010

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Avie Schneider

The battle for dominance in the fast-moving mobile phone market claimed another victim, and this time it happened in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Less than a week after Apple boasted of selling 1.7 million units of its new iPhone 4 in just three days, Microsoft said Wednesday that it won't roll out its Kin One and Kin Two phones beyond the U.S.

Instead, the company said it will focus on its upcoming Windows Phone 7. The Kins, which fit somewhere between a "feature phone" and a smart phone, made their debut on Verizon Wireless less than two months ago.

"We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship Kin in Europe this fall as planned," Microsoft said in a statement. "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."

The Kin family, which drew mixed reviews, seemed late to the party and somewhat of an odd fit for Microsoft, which has been struggling for a rare hardware hit. (In April, the software giant pulled the plug on its Courier tablet project after Apple's strong iPad launch.) The Kin One and Kin Two were marketed toward younger users with social networking in mind, and focused on easily sharing photos, videos and messages with friends.

The Kins initially cost $50 and $100, depending on the model, after rebates. (In an initial sign of trouble earlier this week, Verizon cut the prices to $30 and $50.)

But they also required a $30 monthly data plan — which may have been too much given its target audience.

But maybe Microsoft's phones just got lost in the loud battle between the iPhone and multiple, rapid offerings of smart-phones-on-steroids based on Google's Android operating system.

As New York Times technology columnist David Pogue wrote in a review Thursday of the upcoming Droid X smart phone, "You think technology moves too fast now? You think your camera, camcorder and computer become obsolete quickly? Try buying an app phone. In this business, the state of the art changes as often as Lady Gaga changes outfits."

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