Microsoft is dropping its Kin phone after poor sales, reassigning the team and shifting its focus to the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform.
The surprisingly decisive move comes just three months after the Kin phones were unveiled, a month after they went on sale and a few days after Verizon Wireless slashed the phones’ prices.
It’s also a big step toward sorting out the confusing mix of phones Microsoft is developing in its desperate competition with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform. Kin had been positioned as a phone for younger consumers, families and social-network enthusiasts while the Windows Phone is being cast more as a business device.
Kin failed to catch on despite its twangy name and a few technical advances, including a unique, Facebook-inspired interface and a system for synchronizing photos and messages with free Web pages that Kin users received.
Microsoft and Verizon will sell out the remaining stock of Kin phones in the U.S. where they went on sale May 13. Microsoft is also dropping plans for a fall launch in Europe. No more Kin phones will be produced.
Verizon on Monday cut the price of the unusual compact-like Kin One from $50 to $30 after a $100 discount, and the Kin Two — a more standard slider phone — from $100 to $50.
Andy Lees, the senior vice president in charge of Microsoft’s mobile business, announced the decision internally earlier today. He told the group that initial sales didn’t meet expectations and they should focus on the Windows Phone 7 platform launching this fall.
The Kin team — which includes people who came through Microsoft’s $500 million acquisition of phone maker Danger — will be folded into the Windows Phone team.
Microsoft released a statement explaining the move, initially to Gizmodo:
“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current Kin phones.”
A Verizon spokesman provided a statement via e-mail: “The Kin phones remain an important part of our portfolio.”
Here’s a Microsoft video from the splashy Kin launch:
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