Microsoft, the mobile market, and KIN: off to a bad start

Well it didn’t take long for someone to show Microsoft and Verizon just how badly they’ve botched the pricing plans for the KIN.  Barely 12 hours after Microsoft and Verizon announced that it will cost at least $70/mo + another $15/mo for a Zune Pass, for a not-even-a-smart-phone, Sprint and Virgin Mobile tonight announced an update to their Boost Mobile plan:

On May 12, Virgin Mobile will unveil three new “Beyond Talk” plans that all include unlimited messaging, email, data and web [with no incremental fees or taxes]:

  • The revolutionary $25 plan is the industry’s lowest price point for unlimited messaging, email, data and web with 300 minutes of voice per month…
  • The $40 plan includes unlimited messaging, email, data and web with 1,200 minutes of voice per month…
  • The $60 plan includes unlimited messaging, email, data and web with unlimited voice to offer great value for high-end smartphone users expecting an unlimited plan to cost much more.

These are the kind of price points that enthusiasts were hoping for in order for the KIN to have a fighting chance.  Instead, Microsoft and Verizon have proceeded with blinders on, offering up a pair of v1 phones in an untested market niche with old, tired, and expensive pricing plans.

Until Windows Phone 7 comes to market this holiday season, KIN represents the present and future of Microsoft’s mobile strategy, and some creative pricing (even at the expense of perhaps some Microsoft subsidies), could have not only positioned KIN better, but taken advantage of a somewhat sticky situation with KIN’s out of band release by showing off Microsoft as a real player in the consumer market.

Instead, KIN could well be going out the door with a whimper instead of a bang, and the buzz this summer for Microsoft’s mobile strategy could turn negative after Windows Phone 7’s initial positive push.  Hopefully all that hip marketing will catch hold, and KIN will make a decent showing.  Given the initial negative press, the pricing, and the extreme competition, that would be a welcome surprise.