Microsoft officially unveiled its initial lineup of Windows Phone 7 devices today, with the Samsung Focus looking to be the first US handset available—it’ll start selling on November 8th for $200 with a two-year AT&T contract.
While the first crop of handsets and the shiny, new operating system running atop them certainly look polished, Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to competing with Apple, BlackBerry, and Android platforms here in the US—add Symbian to the list of European competitors, too.
Here’s what I think we can expect to see play out over the coming months.
Windows Phone 7 Won’t Fail
While the whole Kin debacle didn’t inspire much confidence in anyone, the same won’t happen with Windows Phone 7.
In case you missed it, Microsoft spent about $1 billion developing tween-friendly “social networking” phones with the Kin moniker and partnered with Verizon to sell them. The minimum monthly service charge ran $70 and there were no apps, no calendar, and no instant messaging function. Fun for tweens, right? The entire project was scrapped within a few months.
Kin was seen as kind of a precursor to Windows Phone 7. The interface was similar to what we’ll see with Windows Phone 7 handsets, with the biggest difference being that Windows Phone 7 phones will feature apps, a calendar, instant messaging capabilities, and more—all for the same monthly price. It’s almost better that Microsoft killed off Kin like it did. Now there’s no chance of Kin devices possibly cannibalizing sales of Windows Phone 7 devices.
If not for dumping a billion dollars down the tubes like it did with Kin, the whole ordeal could be seen as a learning experience.
So for anyone drawing conclusions between Kin’s fate and the fate of Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 is what Kin probably should have been all along. The only way Microsoft and Verizon could have gotten away with Kin is if they priced the service at $30 per month or less—$70 was insane.
Windows Phone 7 doesn’t draw the same “What the hell are they thinking?” reaction from everyone since the phones and the service plans are in line with all the iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Android phones on the market.