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No More Kin, Folks

Again, Microsoft has thrown something at the wall that didn’t stick. Just two months after introducing a pair of faux smartphones, would be iPhone killers for the teenage set, Redmond has announced that after existing inventory is gone, Kin will be no more.

Wow. That’s pretty quick. Even Jay Leno on prime time lasted longer than that.

So what went wrong? How did the largest software company on the planet once again fail, and fail so miserably? I was going over all the reasons tonight when I came across this telling opening line on Wired’s coverage of the death of Kin:

“Microsoft’s attempt to be hip and cool in mobile is a bust.”

There it was in a nutshell. No phone with the Microsoft brand on it could in any way be cool and hip. Not for baby boomers, not for Gen X, and especially not for a seventeen year old at a Lady Gaga concert. Think about it. When you hear the word “Microsoft” does coolness and hipness come to mind? They might as well have branded it the Cracker Jack phone. Or maybe the Marconi Wireless.

As far as I can tell there are only three people left on the planet who think Microsoft is a cool and hip cutting edge company. Two of them haven’t left the Redmond campus in years, as they’ve been working round the clock trying to devise an appropriate punishment for software that commits illegal acts. The other, of course, is Steve Balmer, who also thinks that he is cool. For the record, even Bill Gates doesn’t think Microsoft is cool anymore.

There were lots of other things wrong with Kin other than the unhip branding. Like the fact they weren’t really smartphones, just glorified feature phones. You couldn’t play games or load apps on them, but they still required the same expensive data plan as a full featured Droid. And their much touted social networking features? All that meant was that you could connect with Facebook and Twitter, and send photos and music to your friends. Yawn.

According to Microsoft, they’re sending all of the folks who’ve been working on the Kin over to become part of the team developing Windows Phone 7, or whatever they’re calling it now. I wish them well. I hope they’re just as successful getting their new mobile OS off the ground as they were with the Kin.

Meanwhile, I’ll be scoping-out the Dollar General Store, waiting for Kin remainders to appear on the prepaid phone rack. I think a Kin would make a super cool Tracfone, especially if it comes with double minutes for life.

But that’s enough MS bashing for now. I’ve got to get back to work.

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