Redfaced Microsoft must have known when it shipped its ‘Kin mobile phone six weeks ago that the project was dead in the water.
It did have some good things, such as ‘Kin Studio, which copies all content users create with the devices in the cloud and presents it in a niftily styled Webpage.
This stuff could be handy when Redmond gets around to releasing the more promising Windows Phone 7 later this year.
However Microsoft was the wrong company, in the wrong place, at the wrong time to make the ‘Kin actually work. It is not surprising that it pulled the plug yesterday. Here are the top five lessons that Steve Ballmer has learnt as a result of the ‘Kin disaster.
Don’t confuse the punters over the operating system
Kin claimed to be Windows but it was something called a Windows’ Phone OS which has some elements of Windows 7 and bits that were left over from Windows Mobile. Punters did not know what they were buying. It was not clear what it was compatible with and its future was unlikely to survive the release of Windows 7 mobile. Only an Apple fanboy would buy a phone which is going to be out of date in a year and Microsoft would never get one of those to buy its gear.
Don’t market to teens
Microsoft people are too old to understand teens. This is not an insult, some teens are too old to understand that market. There is not so much a generation gap between teens and the real world as an abyss of hormonal stupidity. It was ever thus and there is no point adults wasting cash trying to understand them. They will buy what they define is fashionable even if it is baggy jeans which are worn around the knees. Microsoft’s ‘kin marketing efforts were like watching your dad dancing at the school disco.
Your network provider has to pay ball.
Verizon did more to sink the ‘kin than anything else. It insisted that there was a $30 monthly data plan for the ‘kin – similar to smartphones. The only problem was that the ‘Kin was not a smart phone and $30 a month was expensive for something that did not support third party apps and did not have a calendar. Verizon said that $30 was fair enough because the ‘Kin had high resolution still and video cameras and stored this data in the cloud. This concept was a little too obscure for the great unwashed and particularly teens.
Make sure it has the features people want, not what you think they want.
‘Kin had some good stuff in it, but with the Verizon data bill it lacked a lot of important things. OK, Redmond might have survived without third party applications if it had some features of its own. The ‘Kin did not even have a ‘kin kalendar. True, your average teen does not want to know what day it is, or when that vital assignment is due, but that does not mean you should not have one installed.
When you don’t have features you need a decent app store.
An app store enables users to tailor the phone to what they want. It also enable teens to get applications that they think are cool, that your marketers would not think about. It also has to be launched on day one. You can’t promise that something is being built in the future, particularly if you are flogging stuff to kids who have the attention span of an impatient goldfish.
Lacking all these things, the ‘kin was doomed. ‘Kin doomed.