In February of 2008, Microsoft acquired the maker of the Sidekick, Danger Inc., for $500 million dollars and rolled the company into its Premium Mobile Experiences division, led by Roz Ho. The Sidekick retained a dedicated following after the merger despite some hiccups along the way. Twenty-six months after the acquisition, Microsoft unveiled the KIN One and KIN Two devices which would launch in May. The devices were backed by a huge and mildly controversial marketing push aimed at the young, hip social-networking addict niche. Reviews were generally negative and often cited needless complexity, software that was lacking basic functions and no support for third party applications. The devices ran a fork of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's rewrite of their aging mobile operating system that had been rapidly losing ground to RIM, Apple and Google. Just seven weeks after launch, the KIN is dead. Engadget has some insight into the failure and the subsequent shake-up at Microsoft.
This week Microsoft unveiled the Kin, formerly Project Pink (previously), which emerged out of the troubled Sidekick (previously). Built on the same foundation as the Zune HD, making it the first in-phone use of the NVIDIA Tegra, the phones operating system is a cut-down version of Windows Phone 7 with a focus on photo sharing and social networking. Will the Kin make Microsoft cool again? Perhaps. Of course all eyes are still on the Smartphone market, and how Windows Phone 7 will compare to the iPhone. Some see a clear lead for WP7 from a developers perspective, others are more doubtful.
"Words & Stuff" is a column on wordplay. It lasted from January 1997 to September 2003. The six alphabets of content include pangrams, nonlimericks, monosyllabism, names for wind, Gilbert and Sullivan's Xena, Warrior Princess, and an interesting cameo in Hamlet. Other highlights, with more in the archives. [more inside]
According to a new study in Biology Letters (Royal Society journal), plants respond competitively when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but when placed in a pot with their siblings are more accomodating. PDF, HTML.