Verizon Pulls The Plug On Kin Studio

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 14, 2010

Microsoft’s Kin phone ranks amongst the most high-profile failures of the technology world. I’m not surprised that the device holds the top spot in the dreaded list of “Biggest Tech Duds of 2010” as it was discontinued by Microsoft after only a few months on the market.

And now Verizon has tapped the final nail in the Microsoft Kin coffin by announcing that it will be shutting-down its Kin Studio, the online social networking platform that came bundled with the mobile phones. Verizon is offering a free 3G phone to all Kin users as “compensation” until March 31.

While Kin users will still be able to email, make calls, play music and use Zune Pass over WiFi, it doesn’t make much sense to stay aboard a sinking ship, especially when there’s a safe passage (free alternative 3G phone) available.

Microsoft Kin was dubbed to be the “Ultimate Social Phone” but it failed to live up to the media hype and user expectations. In fact, I was surprised that Verizon decided to continue supporting Kin users even after Microsoft acknowledged it as a mega failure. The Kin sold only a few thousand copies and was a major blow to Microsoft’s mobile aspirations. Verizon knew all along that Kin has no future but continued to sell the device and even lowered the data plan prices in order to clear its inventory.

Perhaps, the only saving grace for Microsoft (and Verizon) is Kin Studio’s popularity amongst its depleted user base. Kin Loop and Kin Spot were amongst the most liked features and it wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft plans to integrate these into WinPho7 sooner than later. It is believed that Microsoft ran the online service and charged Verizon a monthly subscription fee for every Kin user. 

A Verizon Kin customer Conflipper has posted several images which serve as a confirmation that the Kin Studio will be closed at the end of January.

So, how does this move impact Verizon Kin users? They won’t be able to use any of the social features (Feed Reader, Search near me, Photo & wall posting to social networks, loop comments, social contacts) on their so-called “social smartphone”. Further, Kin users will be forced to transfer any remaining pictures from their handsets to a computer, as photos left on the Kins after the deadline will automatically be converted to low-resolution thumbnails. Similarly, don’t be surprised if the contact info from Twitter, Facebook or MySpace disappears from your Kin device after Jan. 31.

It’s been a year of mixed fortunes for the mobile team at Microsoft. While Kin was an “interesting experiment” that failed, the company’s second innings with Windows Phone 7 is looking a lot more promising. Though Microsoft has refused to release actual WP7 sales figures, I’m rest assured that WinPho7 is likely to be “kintinued” as the company’s primary mobile platform for the next couple of years. What do you think?

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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