A mere six weeks after Microsoft launched its Kin cellphones, they're essentially dead, just as I predicted. The death of Kin tells us a lot about what today's youth expects from a cellphone. Polling an unscientific sample of tech interested teenagers, I asked them how Microsoft Kin missed that mark.
Big screen. Shooting videos and photos, editing them, sending them up to social networking sites and directly to each other cries out for a bigger screen. At 2.7 inches, the cheaper Kin One's screen is too small. Even the Kin Two's 3.5-inch screen might be considered too small, dwarfed by the Sprint Evo's 4.2 inch monster which is considered ideal.
Lots of coolness for the money. Most of these kids want an iPhone or the Sprint Evo, both retailing at $200. But that high price is not going to cut It with cash-poor teenagers, especially when the pricey cellphone plan will also take its monthly cut. The Kin's pricing was on the right track, with its most expensive model ultimately reduced to $49. However, there wasn't enough coolness in the Kin.
Run lots of apps. Teens want choices, and they want to be able to customize their phones to express themselves. They want to be able to play games on the phone as well as talk, text, and access social networks with the same features they get on laptops. How did the Kin miss on this? No apps. You can't download games. It's not versatile enough. Social networking is not enough, especially when its Twitter app won't even let you upload photos or see @ replies.
Status. They want to identify with something that's respected and universally accepted as the latest and greatest. When they're carrying that, they're hoping that status will rub off on them. The Kin misses this point, big-time. Status is everything to most teenagers, and these Kin phones look like toys. Or worse, Kin looks like a phone that parents would give their elementary school kids for emergency calling. And they hated the advertisements. But no matter how it was advertised, this Kin line of phones was deemed not cool. Game over.