Microsoft Kin: A Throw Away

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Microsoft Kin is a throw-away – that is the jist of the conclusion one derives from the Engadget Opinion piece by Ross Rubin: Kin Dread Spirit. In the article, Ross describes how Microsoft top brass including Steve Ballmer and Peter Bache found fault with Google last December for entering the mobile market at the expense of OEMs and distributors. Both Steve and Robbie warn that a software company like Google should not be getting into the hardware business by building its own phone while providing the underlying software as well. Both hint strongly that Redmond would never do such a thing.

Fast forward to just this past week and Microsoft is announcing the Kin – a machine like Google Nexus one phone, built on Redmond’s design specs but brought to market through an exclusive distributor, Verizon. In contrast, Nexus One had no exclusive distribution but can be used on several carriers. In addition, Android the operating system for Nexus One is open to usage by several phone/gadget manufacturers. Also Android had been available to device manufacturers and carrier distributors for well over 18 months before the launch of Nexus One. Finally, Android can be and has been  customized[there is an Open Android API]  by device manufaturers, carrier distributors and 3rd party software developers

In contrast, Microsoft Kin is an exclusive deal with one carrier, Verizon, and one manufacturer, Sharp. There has been very little lead time for the carriers, device manufacturers, and 3rd party developers to come on stream for Kin. And Kin itself sort of stands off halfway between the old: Windows Mobile 6.5  +  Zune, and the new  Mobile Phone 7 – each one very different and not easily interchangeable.

Finally, look who Kin is targeted for –  the teen and early tween set doing lots of social interactions. This group in 2-3 years time will be looking for a more robust mobile solution set – for which, Microsoft will be much better prepared than they are now. So Kin provides the all important youth market with a target Microsoft mobile product that they can throwaway in two years time for the next gen Microsoft product. Clearly Microsoft is willing to pay an awful  lot to stay in the mobile game.

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