Is the Kin still hurting Windows Phone?
After reading the Lumia 900 review and all the commentary that has spawned from it, a thought occurred to me. How is Microsoft going to gain significant market share, or even mind share, with a budget phone on AT&T? Don't get me wrong, the Nokia Lumia 900 is a beautiful phone with a high quality exterior, but it still has what on most platforms equates to low end internals and $99 price tag ($499 off contract). And if AT&T subscribers wanted a Windows Phone, they already had plenty of decent options, this just presents a better one. What about Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, or even prepaid and local provider users on Virgin, Cricket, MetroPCS, and the rest? Where is their great Windows Phone option?
All of that pondering made me remember the whole Kin debacle and how all the talk at the time pointed toward failed negotiations between Microsoft and Verizon over positioning and data plans leading to the awkward launch, subsequent termination, even more awkward re-launch, and then final demise of the Kin. All of this happened after Microsoft had already announced Windows Phone which had left many to question why the hell they were launching two completely separate phone platforms in the first place. It took me some time to realize that wasn't the biggest issue the Kin caused. The problem wasn't that Microsoft had wasted their effort on a stillborn platform, but that they soured any possible relationship with Verizon in an attempt to do so.
Six months passed after the US launch of Windows Phone before Verizon launched their one and still only model, the HTC Trophy. During this window, not only was the Kin killed off without the opportunity to move existing contract-bound customers over to Windows Phone, but Verizon launched their long-awaited iPhone. So while Microsoft was busy courting AT&T at a time when they were still the exclusive iPhone carrier, meaning there were already plenty of user on-contract using a seasoned and polished platform, they failed to create relationships with the carriers who were stuck peddling the still unpolished Android to users who may have been open trying a new platform.
So here we are, nearly 18 months after the US launch of Windows Phone and there are 5 (soon to be 6) models available from AT&T, 2 models available on T-Mobile, 1 model on Sprint, and still just 1 model on Verizon. T-Mobile and Sprint are known for having a smaller stable of phones since they are the smaller national carriers, so I'm not too concerned about them. Verizon, on the other hand, is still the biggest carrier in the US. I believe if a platform is going to succeed in the US, it needs to succeed on Verizon. If you can't get one carrier to go all in on your brand over all others, then you need the biggest carrier to recognize your offering as equal to those others.
So what's it going to take to get a decent Windows Phone on Verizon? Is the failure of the Kin and a damaged relationship the reason we don't already have one? What do you think?