It seems that the Kin is the dumbest smartphone in a competitive lineup of contemporary devices that almost-but-not-quite do things.
"You can't watch Web video, you can't send photos or video on Twitter," writes PC World's Jared Newman. "The Web browser doesn't support tabs, there's no native calendar or ability to sync other calendars, and there's no native GPS for accomplishing the very social function of meeting up with friends in real life. All of these limitations make the $30-per-month data plan requirement hard to swallow."
Let me guess how that's going to work out. A year from now the Kin will show up in Dilbert cartoons and "greatest blunders" lists - the one that includes New Coke.
The point here isn't the phone. The point is that once again someone has brought something to market without asking customers what they wanted.
For the last four months I've been studying what makes a VoIP business successful (hint: it has nothing to do with venture capital) or unsuccessful. In the course of this research, this struck me from Japanese telecom giant and VoIP pioneer, SoftBank's annual report:
"The SOFTBANK Group does not subscribe to traditional arguments like 'We are an infrastructure company, and therefore do not understand content,' or 'We are a content company, and are therefore not familiar with infrastructure.'...a unique business model... enables us to provide comprehensive services from the customer's perspective. In other words, the company first identifies an end-user service and develops the components to deliver it, instead of developing components that are then marketed to customers and business partners."
Oh, and BTW: SoftBank posted record operating income every year for the last five years. In FY 2009, the company's net income grew 124% to ¥96,716 million ($1.03 billion) on sales of ¥2,763,406 ($29.1 billion).