Who killed the Kin?

Who killed the Kin?

In business school parlance, the success of a product is determined by the four Ps: product, price, placement and promotion.

So which one of these four Ps killed the Kin, Microsoft’s much-touted youth-targeted mobile phone range?

The Kin range, consisting of two phones, was announced by Microsoft in April. At the time, Microsoft said the product was targeted largely at 15-30-year-olds who spent large parts of their time on social networks. In fact, social networking was the phones’ key feature, with Microsoft doing away with many other standard features such as calendars, expandable memory or spell check.

Now, just two months after what seemed like an enthusiastic launch, Microsoft has announced that it is discontinuing the line of products. All Kin resources will be folded into the Windows 7 mobile operating system project.

The Kin is one of those rare technology flops, in that almost every aspect of the device came together perfectly to render it dead on arrival.

For instance, the phone did not have instant messaging, which made it less than perfectly social. Social network would not automatically update on the device faster than once every 15 minutes—a lifetime in Twitter terms.

And inexplicably, Kins did not let owners download apps, the equivalent of making laptops without USB ports.

Eventually, all this mattered only to critics. The phone simply did not find buyers.

Not only was the Kin less social than some regular phones, but it was also terrible value for money. Despite being several notches dumber than a smartphone, owning a Kin would have cost you as much as owning a Droid or BlackBerry.So what went wrong?

The Kin fiasco points to turmoil within Microsoft’s consumer products division. The unit has turned out two duds, the Kin and the Zune, and recently cancelled a much-touted tablet project. Except for the Xbox, Microsoft is finding hardware hard to sell. This when Apple can’t make iPads fast enough.

Which is why the company is in panic mode. The Kin kill comes at a time when the consumer unit is being restructured. Microsoft says it wants to drop distractions such as the Kin and focus. Which it should if it wants to shed a growing impression that Redmond can get nothing done right the first time.

Will Microsoft ever catch up with Apple? Tell us at views@livemint.com