The real reason Microsoft killed the Kin

Microsoft-Kin-461x308The news that Microsoft Kin, the recently released Yoof Fone, has been cancelled should come as a surprise. Microsoft simply doesn’t make decisions this quickly, which clearly indicates the overwhelming badness of the decision to launch the damn thing in the first place.

The real reason Microsoft killed the Kin

It was classic big business screw-up. Buy an outside company (in this case, Danger), and attempt to bring something new to market which was a long way from the core compentency of the parent company. Keep the group separate from the rest of the business, and hope this allows them to nuture something wonderful.

Unfortunately, this almost always leads to screw-ups unless the management oversight is extremely tough. Microsoft has made this work in the past — look at the early days of Windows NT for proof positive that the acquisition and force-feeding route to market works well. But be in no doubt that management eyes were focussed daily on that project.

With Danger, it’s clear that this was a division out of control. Anyone who manages to delete the entire user data base, and then take weeks to do a recovery, shows it has already gone over the cliff. To then tell them to change platforms to a Windows Phone-based one merely added 18 months to the death march.

And then, the project takes on its own painful inevitability, just like watching a train crash in slow motion. The third-party telco has been signed up, the marketing engine is gearing up for launch, the advertising budgets have been allocated. So the product crashes into the marketplace, only to be met with a huge collective “meh” from its intended audience, all of whom wanted an Apple iPhone 4 instead thanks.

So why the rapid cancellation? Well, it was done hours before the end of the Microsoft financial year. Clearly, this is an attempt by Andy Lees, the VP in charge of mobile, to wrap up all the pain and debt into the current financial year in order to give Windows 7 Mobile the best possible spreadsheet position in the next financial year. He really doesn’t want the difficult launch of WinMob7 to be tainted even further by Kin’s bad numbers, so Kin had to go. And yes, that is the very definition of desperation.

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