Microsoft pulls plug on Kin social-networking phones

Microsoft has pulled the plug on a new generation of smart phones aimed at young consumers, less than three months after unveiling the devices that were part of its efforts to catch-up with Apple and Google in the fast-growing mobile market, Reuters reports. Microsoft said on June 30 that it had canceled plans to sell its “Kin” phones in Europe this fall. The company added that the internal team working on the Kin phones would be combined with the group working on Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Phone 7 software. “We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current Kin phones,” Microsoft said in an eMailed statement. The move underscores the challenges facing Microsoft, whose software is used on the vast majority of the world’s PCs, as it strives to adapt to consumers’ growing taste for handheld internet-connected gadgets like smart phones. The Kin phones represented Microsoft’s first foray into designing its own phones. The two Kin models featured built-in internet social networking functionality, as well as Microsoft’s Zune digital music player, and were aimed at savvy young phone users. But analysts said the phones lacked certain key smart-phone features, such as the ability to install software applications, and were based on a special Microsoft software called Windows Phone OS—even as Microsoft prepared to release the new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. “Windows Phone 7 is the real mobile strategy,” said on analyst. “The fact that [the Kin] was ever released in the first place was a mistake. When [Microsoft] went with Phone 7, they should have quietly killed this project.”

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