The Kin was supposed to be Microsoft’s dark horse entry into the race between high-end mobiles built from the software up. Instead, it’s more like Redmond’s family member who–begotten in a, um, embarrassing way–they’d rather not acknowledge.
Microsoft has announced it is dropping the line of pseudo-smartphones after reports of poor sales (I’ve heard estimates of between 1,000 and 10,000 units), mere days after Verizon slashed the prices of Kin 1 and Kin 2 by almost half. At least Vodafone, which had exclusivity rights, will fare better since since the phones won’t be shipping to Europe in the fall.
The Kin’s disinheritance is a lesson in marketing gone wrong: For all the expensive, Real World-esque commercials, Microsoft didn’t really seem to know its narrowly-targeted demographic. Hint: While Facebook and Twitter are very important to young adults, social networks aren’t all that they care about.
It also proves that consumers either want a smartphone or they don’t; there’s little room for an in-between device. Kin’s mad social networking skillz (see how easy it is to talk to today’s youth?) were sadly trumped by its lack of basic smart features like a calendar, app downloads, GPS, and sharing of media via Twitter –the latter whose importance Microsoft seemed to understand, what with the heavy combining of social network updates and newsfeeds. The sound rejection of a phone without these features proves that mobile marketing success requires campaigns based on all these technologies.