Last of Kin: Microsoft Cuts Off Kin Smartphone Line on Weak Sales

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Less than two months after a flashy launch, Microsoft (MSFT) is scuttling its Kin line of mobile phones in a stark indication that the software giant is falling behind in the mobile arms race.

As Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Research In Motion (RIMM) duke it out in the rapidly expanding smartphone market, Microsoft is getting left in the dust.

Originally marketed to the social networking youth set, the Kin represented Microsoft's much-ballyhooed foray into the mobile-device market. With two models under $100, Microsoft was hoping to appeal to consumers looking for an alternative to more expensive smartphones.

Not Social Enough

Microsoft called the device a "social phone," hoping to tap into the Facebok craze, but the Kin lacked several key features, including a calendar and instant-messaging capability. Perhaps it's not surprising that the phone failed to catch on. Although Microsoft hasn't released sales figures, analysts say the phones simply aren't moving off the shelves.

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that the Kin would not ship to Europe this fall as planned and that the Kin development team would be folded into the larger Windows Phone 7 team, "incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases."

Tellingly, CNET reports that Roz Ho, the Microsoft exec who headed the development of the Kin, "will oversee the transition of the team and then move to an as-yet-determined role at the company."

Microsoft says that Verizon Wireless, the Kin's exclusive carrier, will keep selling the phones in the U.S. -- but it's not clear for how long. On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless slashed prices for two Kin models, cutting the Kin One to $29.99 from $49.99, and reducing the Kin Two's price from $99.99 to $49.99.
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