May 10

Microsoft: creating an alternate reality

I suppose it makes sense. If your current reality seems sufficiently gloomy, why not just create a new one?

Microsoft did.

With Windows Phone 7 delayed till next year, competitors leaving them in the dust, and no one exactly clamoring for Microsoft to save the day — they decided to invent their own market.

Not only did Microsoft imagine their own group of hungry consumers, they invented a phone to sell to them. Two phones, actually. These are the new Kin One and Kin Two that I blogged about a while back — phones designed especially for the “social generation.”

Now comes a study that takes a long, detailed look at the social habits of teens. Its message to Microsoft: better get cracking on Kin Three.

Two of the survey’s key findings don’t bode well for a Kin landslide. Or even a Kin trickle, for that matter. Text messaging, at 72%, is by far the #1 way for teens to connect. It is also the #1 missing feature on both Kins.

46% play games, which are also nonexistent on the Kins. No apps either. What Kin offers is a camera and connections to three social networking sites chosen by Microsoft. Even then, it only connects to the Internet every 15 minutes.

In my own survey of random respondents in this dimension, I find that people might be interested in a less-featured smartphone if it were priced way below the others. However, indications are that the Kins will sell for near the price of a $99 iPhone and require a normal data plan.

So the social generation will likely have to choose between a phone that truly does what they do (and is infinitely expandable with apps), and a Kin that does little of what they do. How agonizing a decision that will be.

In an alternate universe somewhere, I’m sure they’ll be lining up around the block to buy a Kin. Microsoft should take solace in that — and leave this reality to those who know how to innovate.

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  • ChuckO

    You SOB! Who are you with your logic and your hoity toity ideas on giving people what they want to tell Microsoft ANYTHING! It’s people like you Ken that cause Microsoft to spend ever increasing amounts on advertising. And wait, oh look, your in advertising! Isn’t that interesting. Your clearly a socialist/fascist that hates America and Microsoft’s God given right to make an easy profit. So what if Apple and Android and Palm have better phones for the same money? Microsoft has imagery. Young folks full of energy having irresponsible fun on sun dappled days as they compulsively hammer refresh keys to see what fun their missing out on only taking the odd break here and there to photograph their genitalia or post pictures of their vomit crusted hair after some evenings orgy of sex and drugs or pay their mobile phone bill.

    That’s the America Microsoft and I believe in Ken!

  • ken segall

    You have shamed me. I repent!

  • ChuckO

    Ken, Have you? I’ll believe it when your posts are devoid of critical thought, clear headed analysis or a sense that the consumer is owed any respect at all but DO show an unrestrained zeal for desperate and ill conceived initiatives of large multinational corporations that should know better.

    Your penance is to review every season of Mad Men twice.

  • neilw

    The whole Microsoft mobile strategy is a head-scratcher. Alternate reality indeed.

    Back on planet earth, I look forward to commentary on the new iPad ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fihOmQY-JxY&feature=player_embedded) and the latest volley in the Flash wars (http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/13/adobe-targets-apple-in-ad-campaign-launched-today-publishes-ope/). That is a mighty interesting PR and marketing battle in progress.

  • Chris

    I’d rank the Kin experiment right up there with “New Coke.” Only difference is people gave a damn about Coke. The public is ignoring the Kin. Not good if you’re Microsoft.

  • ken segall

    Yes, those are both juicy topics indeed. Stand by for further babbling…

  • Cory

    OT: The introduction of “New Coke” did do one thing… it got tons of free publicity… Coke was big NEWS and had many stories in all the major newspapers including many front page articles and pictures. Not to mention all the free television advertising they got from all the major networks and most local television station in North American (and beyond) running news stories on the subject.

    I don’t think it was that bad a flop… more like a smart marketing ploy in the end.