Why the Microsoft Kin failed

I know this is rather late, but I though I had previous typed this up before, but couldn’t locate it on WordPress. So here it is.

The Kin failed because of poor research into what the market wanted, especially baseline features, and Verizon’s issues as well. Here’s a quick list of what killed the Kin:

  • Verizon – MS and Verizon had a break down prior to launch. Microsoft wanted it to be billed as a dumbphone with a low-cost data plan, But Verizon ended up labeling it as a ‘smartphone’ with an expensive smartphone data plan. Only during the 2nd revision did Verizon shift it to Microsoft’s want. When it was too late… Why didn’t they get T-Mobile, like their predecessor with the Sidekick/Hiptop?
  • The marketing – All their ads completely targeted to ‘hipsters’, which if any smart person could tell Microsoft, is a very niche group, super hard to please, and isn’t representative of most of America’s youth. It was a disaster.
  • Missing features, day one – Calculator and calendar came with the 2nd revision and update, but they weren’t there Day 1! I’ve used at least 2 dumbphones, and they had basic calendar support years ago and today. It wasn’t web connected, but it existed. Calculator? Come on. They were still gimpish during the 2nd revision. No IM clients for a phone billed as a social phone. Dumb. No spelling correction or predictive text input. No accessible expansion slots. GPS is only good for geocoding photos and local search, not for navigation. Apps? It’s a dumbphone, but it should have better built-in apps.
  • The ‘social’ was gimped – 15-minute delay in updating your Loop, unless you manually refresh or lock-unlock your phone. It’s like that because of “battery life” and “immature social networking APIs”. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea? Twitter was very gimped. It’s pretty much read only, reply, and tweet. And no IM clients. Or calendars.

Ignoring the above, the Kin did offer stuff over the regular dumphone:

  • Modern look – It was kinda smooth, the graphics looked better with the high-res screen, and the animations weren’t bad. It’s not choppy and ugly like most dumbphones you see out there.
  • The Spot – You could hold, drag, and drop items to a tiny circle that’s always on-screen, and click on the circle to organize and send to the friends or social networks you want.
  • The Loop – It’s the homepage, and it’s pretty much the same as Window Phone’s “People” hub.
  • The Kin Studio – A major winner as an idea to most people. All your photos, videos, text messages, contacts, and such can be backed up to the cloud, all accessible with unlimited storage for free. No dumbphone or smartphone has done that for free.
  • Decent cameras – 5MP standard-def video on Kin ONE and 8MP 720p video on Kin TWO is pretty good, especially for a dumbphone.

Basically, if Microsoft had marketed it better as an awesome dumbphone without the stupid hipster factor, and remembered that this was first and foremost a dumbphone, not a smartphone, they might have had a slight chance of success.

Dumbphones should NOT require an expensive data plan, nor should the features (meant for bigger data plans) be gimped to make cheaper data plans possible. User experience goes down a lot when the feature you use just doesn’t work good. If practically every dumbphone has certain features like a basic calendar and calculator, please include it. If you’re going to claim it’s a “social phone”, you better have like the best social networking features available, and multiple/integrated IM clients too, or you’re just lying. Even a Blackberry would be a better “social phone” with Blackberry Messenger, calendar, e-mail and all that. If it’s not doable, then don’t.

I think it’d be great if Microsoft could redo their dumbphone thing, and do it right. I think they should license the OS to other OEMs, like they do with Windows Phone, but with lighter hardware requirements of course. Redesign the OS to just make it a better dumbphone, without too much expensive extras.

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One thought on “Why the Microsoft Kin failed

  1. Pingback: Microsoft should make a dumbphone OS | Macrosoft

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