Kin was a mobile handset developed by Microsoft during 2010. The Kin project idea came when Microsoft acquired a Palo Alto, California based software company called Danger Inc during February 2008. Danger Inc was specialized in hardware design, software and services for mobile devices. One of the Danger mobile handset products Sidekick was the first cloud-based Smartphone with the App marketplace. Microsoft acquired Danger Inc for a price around $500 million.
Kin was a failure product from Microsoft. This project describes the problems Microsoft Kin faced in the market and some of the solutions which could have prevented the failure of the Microsoft Kin.
2.1Microsoft Kin Development
Kin project was first known as ‘Project Pink’. The main intention of Kin project was to develop a mobile handset from Microsoft which has some built-in applications to access the social networking media like Twitter, Facebook and Myspace to target at teens and social networking addicts.
Kin’s development was inside Microsoft’s Premium Mobile Experiences (PMX) division based on WinCE. The development of Kin platform took around 2 years and the total project investment was US $1 billion. The additional investment for the project is the acquisition of Danger Inc by Microsoft in February 2008 for $500 million.
2.3Microsoft Kin – Launch
Microsoft announced about their product Kin on April 10th, 2010. They launched two Kin models Kin ONE and Kin TWO and made available on Verizon Wireless stores on May 13th, 2010.
Picture 2: Kin ONE and Kin TWO
3Microsoft Kin – Problem and Failure
3.1Microsoft Kin – Problem
Some of the missing features in the Microsoft Kin were the following:-
The additional missing functionalities of the Microsoft Kin were:-
No additional Apps can be downloaded like any other smart phone
No extra options or downloads possible
Once shot, pictures cannot be edited – only shared or stored
Videos recorded with camcorder have no sound, can only be deleted not edited once captured
3.2Microsoft Kin – Failure
The Microsoft Kin became a failure within two months of its actual launch date. Verizon stopped selling the Kin phones due to poor sales. Verizon returned all the unsold phones to Microsoft. Microsoft scrapped the Kin’s Europe release due to the poor sales in US market. They also stopped promoting the Kin devices and ceased production. Microsoft also transferred the Kin development team to join its Windows Phone developers.
Issues were present on basic functionality like making calls
Some of the opinions from the focus testers before Kin release:-
““The phone seems to be really slow in responding … and that makes it confused as to what it was doing”
“the phone was so unresponsive, it had a hard time registering a simple phone number.”
“lots of room to improve I think … especially since I don’t have a touch phone right now, even so I think coming to a touch phone like this is kind of a turnoff.. I think the biggest frustration I have is whether it’s the lag, or whether it’s my actual touch [causing problems]…”
The focus test groups were not satisfied about the Microsoft product features and the product was having issues during the focus test.
4.3Microsoft Kin – Customer Opinions
Below are some of the opinions from the Kin customers after their purchase of the handset from Verizon Wireless in US market:-
“I wouldn't say satisfied. I have a Kin TwoM, and it's a piece of crap. Not quite as laggy as the focus test videos show, but still noticeably bad. The camera, however, is just as bad as they say.”
“The HD video feature is unusable because it locks up constantly for a couple seconds at a time while recording.”
“I'd love to upgrade to a WP handset (my Verizon upgrade period), but unfortunately, I can't pay for the data plan.”
The above comments clearly indicate that the customers were unhappy about the Kin features which were faulty and the pricing were too above for a handset which does not provide much internet features.
5Microsoft Kin – Solution Recommendations
Some of the solution recommendations which could have avoided the Microsoft Kin failure are detailed in the below subsections.
5.1Solution Recommendations – Avoid Development delays
Two years is considered a significant development delay. Fasten the release date to beat the market leaders in smart phone.
Below table shows the Apple iPhone versions and its release dates. The table shows that Apple took just approximately one year for each of their subsequent releases to launch new features to make the customer happy and attracted towards their smart phone device.
Kin’s development was inside Microsoft’s Premium Mobile Experiences (PMX) which was a parallel project to Windows Mobile Platform. Rather than two different platforms have one mobile platform for a better quality product and to avoid:-
Wastage of time
Wastage of resources
Wastage of money
Conflicts between colleagues/Management
5.3Solution Recommendations – Importance to Non-Functional Requirements
Since the Kin uses the data network only for accessing limited social networking sites the data usage would have been limited compared to the existing smart phones. The price of the data plan should have been minimized compared to the other smart phone data plans to attract more teenagers and social networking addicts