Microsoft on Wednesday halted further development on its KIN phones and will instead incorporate the KIN team and technologies into its broader Windows Phone efforts. As a result, the KIN will not ship via Vodafone in Europe later this year as originally announced. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless claims that the KIN devices are still "an important part" of its mobile phone portfolio.
"We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned," a statement from Microsoft reads. "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 US to sell current KIN phones."
Microsoft announced the KIN One and KIN Two in April and then launched the phones via Verizon Wireless in the US in late May. The devices have reportedly sold poorly despite a massive publicity campaign, and Verizon this week announced deep price cuts of both phones.
Sitting somewhere between a traditional feature phone and a true smartphone, the KIN suffered from a perception problem, and its target market—teens and tweens who couldn't afford such a device but would have to rely instead on their parents—was nebulous as well. That Verizon priced the KIN at the extravagant levels of a true smartphone couldn't have helped matters either.
While some have tried to suggest that the KIN's sudden demise is a bad omen for Windows Phone, the reality is that no consumers even equate KIN with Windows Phone or Microsoft. The only real question here is why Microsoft launched KIN at all. As I noted last week, Microsoft's mobile strategy isn't a strategy, it's a mess. By killing the KIN, Microsoft took one small step to simplify matters.