My guess is that Microsoft’s business model for the Kin was always to share revenues for Kin data plans. Trouble is that users won’t pay high monthly fees for data without a significantly more flexible device. Thus even making the Kin free won’t get a large user base.
The decision process regarding mobility at Microsoft from 2005 has been a classic example of paralysis by analysis. Trapped by their processes and resources into doing horizontal solutions for a world that buys vertical integration, Microsoft was bound to fall into a trap. Like a wounded beast, it is not dying predictably but with spasms. Rather than concluding that Pink and Zune are part of a fucked up process or evolution, they should be seen as terminal convulsions of WinMo.
Credit to Dilger for going further than anyone in tying Pink, WinMo and Zune.
If I may summarize, the problems Microsoft faces are:
- A reliance on a horizontal business model at a time when modular product “turns” are not fast enough vs. integrated/vertical models. Just look at Dilger’s mobile OS history graph and measure the “cycle time” of each product rev for the competitors.
- An economic model that implies there is value in a mobile OS (something PalmSource and Symbian figured out to be dead ends long ago, not to mention OpenWave, SavaJe and a few others long forgotten.) Microsoft, a company that grew by disruption at the low end (vis. Lotus, Novell, IBM, etc.,) is unable or uncaring enough to sense when it’s being disrupted the same way.
- Competitors that combine into a pincer movement from above (Apple) and below (Google) with a fortified alternative incumbent (Nokia, Microsoft’s original target) still standing. Unlike previous single competitors in each category Microsoft conquered, the mobile world presented a more diverse (and perhaps wiser) front.
I won’t get into Microsoft’s dysfunctional culture as that’s been covered brilliantly by others.