Greed: Cutting back on on-board storage was just one of the ways Microsoft and Sharp cut corners with the otherwise respectably-designed Kin hardware. The Kin One in particular had a small 2.5-inch screen that required a fair amount of scrolling even for Kin's native user interface. Browsing websites on the device required endless scrolling. Greed was also evident in Microsoft entering the hardware market itself while trying to push Windows Phone 7 to licensees. And if there's a short-term silver lining to the Kin story (apart from Kin Studio), it's that Microsoft will no longer be in competition with its hardware partners.
Greed was also evident in Microsoft entering the hardware market itself while trying to push Windows Phone 7 to licensees.
Sloth. The giants of the social networking space include Facebook and Twitter, for which Kin offered at least fair support. But rather than support Flickr for images and (Google-owned) YouTube for video, Microsoft plugged in its Windows Live services for these media. Kin also lacked established functionality such as a calendar and instant messaging as well as support for fast-growing services embraced by social networkers such as Foursquare.
Wrath. It's certainly no secret that the Windows Phone 7
reboot has been driven in large part by Windows Mobile falling far behind the licensing revenue-killing success of Android from Microsoft's foremost rival Google. Windows Phone 7, though, still isn't here, and so Kin represented a fork from the main group that came to market without all the support of an app marketplace. Kin could not compete with more capable smartphones available at Verizon (and elsewhere) that offered nearly all of its functionality to its target market, plus a much broader range of features.
Envy. The heart of both Microsoft's and Google's mobile operating system strategy is to have diverse handsets running its software. Still, both companies look at the level of integration Apple can achieve with the iPhone and are drawn to have a heavier hand in the design of handsets. This sort of licensor regret is part of what drove Google to create the Nexus One and likely also contributed to Microsoft's decision to create the Kin handsets.
Pride. Perhaps the most ominous sign of Kin's failure was that its user interface was in some ways a more tricked-out version of the one for Windows Phone 7's top-layer tiles. Microsoft gussied up the terms used to describe the user interface with lingo like "the Loop" and "the Spot," the latter referring to a tiny green target for dragging interface items. Microsoft confidently cited extensive research with young social networkers as evidence that the generalist approach of smartphones wasn't as good a solution for managing the three kinds of "friends" by Generation Upload. Ultimately, though, Kin made far too few friends of any kind at the cash register.
Ross Rubin is executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.