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Old 07-02-2010, 10:17 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default The Inside Story on The Demise of KIN

"To get anywhere, a project inside Microsoft needs an executive sponsor, and for Pink, Allard had been that guy from day one. It was his baby. Of course, Allard was a visionary, an idea man; Lees -- like most Microsoft execs -- is a no-nonsense numbers guy, and to put it bluntly, he didn't like that Pink existed. To quote our sources, Lees was "jealous," and he was likely concerned that Kin was pulling mindshare (and presumably resources) from Windows Mobile's roadmap. With enough pressure, Lees ended up getting his way; Pink fell under his charge and Allard was forced into the background."

A fascinating story that certainly explains much of what we saw when KIN came to market - all of the complaining we did about the high data plan prices? The KIN team knew that it would severely hamper their product; so did Verizon. It's a classic case of internal politics and corporate "silos". Definitely worth a read. Oh KIN, we hardly knew ye...

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Old 07-03-2010, 01:54 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 639

I really am sad for Microsoft at this point. They've got three decent product teams--Windows, Office, and Developer Tools. Everything else they touch turns to poo, even if it starts out okay or is a decent technology. It's like they lose interest, change focus, or go to war just before finishing anything.

I know there's a strategy that says you should let your internal teams compete for supremacy, but it is supposed to be on level ground (not controlled in the end by politics) and at least with some sense of a driving vision. Obviously this is Ballmer's strategy. I think it was Gates' strategy, as well. But Gates had a grand vision. Ballmer has male pattern baldness.

And I really wonder who's gonna replace him. I'm pretty sure it'll be one of the inside guys...another super smart numbers guy with a great background--but not a visionary. Just like Scully and Amelio who were super successful CEO's in the past. Or perhaps more like Spindler who rose from within. They colored by numbers. And they drove an amazingly successful (though smaller) company to the brink despite having some seemingly unbreakable strongholds on lucrative cows much like Windows and Apple allowed themselves to completely lose the education market is beyond me.

Anyway, the parallels are just too strong to be ignored. But one wonders whether it is even possible to find a Jobs-like savior for Microsoft in a few years. Jobs saved his own baby. Gates won't be coming back.
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24

It is kind of trendy to paint Ballmer as the source of all evils, and now Lees becomes the bad guy as well, but are they really? The story describes how Lees didn't want competition and distraction from WP7. But think about it, does Microsoft really need competition and distraction from WP7? If you want the latter to succeed, wouldn't you want MS to focus on it?

Sure, this J Allard guy is hip and cool and artistic looking and all that, but do you really think projects like Courier and KIN are what Microsoft needs? Niche products? When bigger markets are being taken over by Google?
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Old 07-03-2010, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 88

vangrieg is right on the money.

Microsoft does need siloed leadership, they need overall leadership. They have very good and sometime great technologies in various areas. The biggest problem is that there is nobody looking at the big picture.

KIN is a good example of a targeted product but it certainly not what Microsoft needs. They would have been better off having the KIN experience be an application that can load on WM7. Even better, use it as the target for having applications on WM7 work together. Build the framework to support the KIN experience and then let 3rd parties develop the next big thing.

Zune is another example. It should have been an application on Windows Mobile but they blew that too. If they couldn't get the user experience they wanted on WM, that should have been the first clue they needed to fix WM. They wasted a ton of time and loads of money building yet another silo instead of improving their core products.

Microsoft has the technologies to beat Apple and Google but they lack the will and the leadership to do so.
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