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Microsoft Kin is simple, stop overthinking it

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Some of the big brains on the Internet have been weighing in on Microsoft Kin (Kevin Purcell’s got our report on Notebooks.com), throwing out everything from heavy analysis to utter disbelief. I admit to some extent it appears puzzling, but I can sum it up in one word: iPod.

As you may recall, Apple’s iPod has been the top portable media player for years, burying all would-be competitors by a wide margin. The only rival with the resources to keep running hard in the race is Microsoft and even they are doing little more than fighting it out with their fellow second-placers. Fighting the iPod directly has proven to be almost futile. At the same time, letting Apple run completely unopposed would be even worse.

One of the reasons Apple has been so successful with the iPhone and now the iPad is that they’ve been building their target audience for years: iPod owners. General iPod sales are on the decline, while iPod touch sales are on the rise and iPhone and iPad sales are exploding. Clearly, Apple’s iPod base is rolling over and upgrading to these higher-end products. This is a huge advantage for Apple and a massive deficit for anyone fighting the iPhone.

So no one can topple the iPod, and the iPod feeds user to the iPhone. Does that mean everyone should give up? No, of course not. There’s too much money at stake and the smartphone market is huge. Someone’s going to fight for that money and market share. If they can’t fight Apple directly, they gotta do it indirectly, and that’s where Kin comes in.

Kin is a feature phone. It has messaging features. It has a keyboard for texting. It has Zune built-in. It’s targeted squarely at the youth market. Is the device a one-to-one competitor to the iPod? No, but it targets the same audience and offers the social features they want. And that’s how you fight the iPod indirectly. We’ll see if it works or not, but the strategy makes sense. When you open a restaurant next to a popular pizza place, you open a sandwich joint or a coffee shop, not another pizza place.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

5 Comments

  1. Kevin Purcell

    04/13/2010 at 8:43 pm

    Exactly!!

  2. Antimatter

    04/13/2010 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you. It’s just so frustrating seeing people scream “FAIL” because this thing isn’t an iPhone.

  3. Joe

    04/13/2010 at 10:23 pm

    The problem is: younger generations are already hooked on a different product- the Blackberry.

    Because BBM is a closed network that all their friends are on, more and more people are getting hooked into that instead.

  4. MikeElement

    04/13/2010 at 10:30 pm

    I agree completely I am a fan of Iphones etc. but I do think someone should take on Apple. They have to much power and I think there is so much potential but if they do not need to put in any effort to beat any competition then they will take their sweet ass time and not offer things. For instance “Flash” because they can.

  5. Amy Zunk

    04/14/2010 at 11:49 am

    I agree with you here. The KIN series is the same target audience that using a device similar to it, its called the T-Mobile Sidekick. Now the Sidekicks are ‘out of fashion’, so now the tweens are looking for the next phone. It may be the new iPhone with OS 4.0, it may be another Blackberry, or it could be the KIN. The KINs have all things they care about- texting, social networking, and music. We’ll see what happens when its released.

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