The Kin Is Dead – What Happened?
Microsoft products tend to die noisily, and there has been lots of chatter about the early demise of Microsoft’s Kin phone. Microsoft conducted 50,000 interviews to find out just what people needed in a phone, leading some to conclude once again that you don’t innovate by listening to your market.
What killed the Kin? Not the hardware, or the software. It was the lack of apps – the lack of an ecosystem.
Their target market, however, doesn’t want a perfect tool – they want to design their own tool inside an ecosystem that delivers lots of possibilities. These people are very savvy about app ecosystems.
A single-purpose device – even if that single purpose includes multiple networking platforms – is not for them. That’s more suited to Grandma, who wants a phone that just makes calls, or maybe just calls 911. (Sorry about the stereotype – please don’t email me if you’re a grandma who spends all day tweeting about the photos of her Facebook friends she’s just posted on Flickr).
Microsoft built a solution, but they got the problem wrong. They needed – and other companies have delivered – a product that’s a gateway to an ecosystem. Had they listened better, they’d have figured that out.
So listening – the right kind of listening – is still key. Without that, you’re dead in the water.