The online social services that were the main point of Microsoft’s Kin phone are being shut down in January, killing the product once and for all.
According to a letter obtained by Kin user Conflipper, the Kin Studio will be closed at the end of January. (Scanned images from the letter are here.) This means users won’t be able to post photos to social networks, see their friends’ social network status updates, read RSS feeds, or conduct local searches. They’ll still be able to make phone calls, play music, and send emails.
The move is the final death knell for Kin, which Microsoft discontinued less than two months after its launch. The phone sold only a few thousand copies, and Microsoft decided to concentrate its attention on its Windows Phone 7 platform, which offers far more features and supports a greater range of hardware. Last month, Verizon began offering Kin again with a lower priced data plan, but this announcement makes clear that was just a temporary move to clear inventory.
The Kin Studio was an important market test for Microsoft and a big reason why the company went ahead with the launch, even though Kin was late and running into the Windows Phone 7 launch schedule. According to sources with knowledge of the Kin business, Microsoft ran the online services and was charging Verizon a monthly subscription fee for every Kin user. With its other mobile platforms, Microsoft simply licenses the OS to handset makers and funds any associated online services, such as Xbox Live or the Zune Pass, separately through direct user fees or advertisements.
Verizon is offering a fee 3G phone to all Kin users as compensation. They have until March 31 to pick it up.
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