Kin's Demise Puts Pressure On Windows Phone 7

There's a school of thought in the Microsoft partner channel that cutting bait with Kin was the best course of action. Still, the fact that Kin devices bore the Windows Phone brand isn't going to inspire consumer confidence in Windows Phone 7. In fact, partners say this is going to ratchet up the pressure on Microsoft to really nail the forthcoming release.

Microsoft spent vast sums on marketing Kin and now must deal with the likelihood that consumers will view Windows Phone 7 through the lens of Kin's failures.

It doesn't matter that Kin and Windows Phone 7 are different projects within Microsoft developed by separate groups -- consumers aren't going to realize this, or understand what this distinction means. All most people know right now is that Microsoft is noticeably absent from a mobile discussion that's dominated by the likes of Apple and Google.

"Someone at Microsoft is betting that the collective memory of mobile-purchasing consumers is short enough to not remember the Kin tragedy when Windows Phone 7 ships. Otherwise, who's going to buy a phone knowing that Microsoft put a bullet in the last one?" said Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based Microsoft partner.

Sponsored post

The same could be said of Microsoft's decision in February to "reset" its Windows Mobile business and start over from scratch with Windows Phone 7. Windows Mobile was going nowhere, of course, but there's a monumental amount of work involved in building a new OS. Plus, Microsoft recently shook up the leadership in Entertainment and Devices, the division that oversees Windows Phone 7.

There are lots of variables floating around here for an OS that needs to be flawless at launch. If Windows Phone 7 devices suffer from glitches, as even ridiculously popular devices like the iPhone 4 have, consumers are going to be quick to label it another Microsoft mobile dud.

As with most Microsoft products, the success of Windows Phone 7 is going to come down to developer enthusiasm. The good news for Microsoft is that mobile developers like to cast a wide net, ones with Silverlight expertise are waiting hungrily for Windows Phone 7 to arrive.

Silverlight is the platform for native Windows Phone 7 application development, XNA Framework is the gaming platform, and Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2010 Express are the design and development tools. Microsoft's choice of Silverlight has enabled developers without deep mobile experience to start building Windows Phone 7 apps well in advance of Windows Phone 7's launch.

Infusion Development, a New York City-based software development firm and Microsoft partner, has a thriving iPhone development business but is also bullish, and focusing heavily, on Windows Phone 7.

"There's going to be a learning curve, but the key thing to remember is that the best development tools have always belonged to Microsoft -- even the haters will admit that," said Nick Landry, an enterprise mobility practice manager at Infusion Development.