Project Pink: What’s the Point?
I’ve been following Microsoft’s Project Pink since it was just a code name. Pink was supposed to save Microsoft’s phone division. It was supposed to be its holy grail, its fountain of youth. As it gets closer to today’s unveiling, however, it seems more and more like another Microsoft dud, another Vista, another Zune. In other words, it seems like Microsoft is yet again letting a good idea fail.
So what is Pink?
Pink is the codename for the phone system that resulted from Microsoft’s acquisition of Danger. For those who don’t know, Danger’s the company which manufactured the Hiptop (better known as the Sidekick), the roundish phone whose screen swiveled around to reveal a keyboard. As you probably remember, these devices were extremely popular with teens around four or years ago. Microsoft bought them out in 2008 and has been working ever since to incorporate Danger’s ideas into a Microsoft platform (Windows Embedded CE 7). We knew very little about this furtive project until late 2009. It was then that we discovered that Pink was a consumer-focused phone system with some type of Zune integration.
It Sounded Great
In a world where the iPhone didn’t exist and even when the iPhone was first out, this was great idea. When phones could only make calls, check email, and browse the internet, Pink is exactly what Microsoft needed– a consumer centric device that actually worked well. Apple provided us with a prime example: the iPhone; the device was a great example of how it could be done. Many tech pundits expected Pink to be a pretty big competitor to Apple’s iPhone. In fact, the Sidekick was actually one of the first consumer-focused devices to feature apps (and at this point Steve Jobs was saying that the only apps the iPhone would ever run were web apps).
For once, Microsoft could’ve gotten ahead in the game.
Let’s fast forward…
It’s now 2010. Pink has been delayed and is being unveiled today. Let’s recap some new details that have emerged recently:
- First, it is not going to be called “Pink.” Like everybody expected, that’s just a code name.
- Second, it’s aimed at teens and tweens. Windows Phone 7 has moved into the consumer space, so Pink had to find a new market.
- Third, it’s not going to share apps with Windows Phone 7. That’s a big problem. Developers now have two different platforms to develop for, and that’s only for Microsoft.
- The target age group is also a problem. The phones will supposedly have a focus on social networking. Parents are not going to want to buy a phone for their 10 year old to do more social networking. Heck, it’s even illegal to sign up for a Facebook account if you’re under 13. The older teenage age group, however, is not going to want a phone that isn’t full featured and doesn’t have all the apps in the world. If teens are going to get a Microsoft phone, they’ll probably be more interested in a Windows Phone 7 system. But, more likely than not, they’ll just opt for an iPhone or a more popular platform.
- Yet another problem is cost. Most tweens, or more likely their parents, are not going to spend $30 a month for a data plan during a recession. I have a feeling that Microsoft and their partner, Verizon, anticipated that and are positing the phone for the $10 a month “multimedia” data package. The problem with that package is that it does not provide enough data for more than maybe email and the occasional Twitter update. No tween is going to be able to monitor and limit their data usage, and that’s going to be a huge problem.
So basically, Microsoft is making the Pink phones destined to fail. What’s sad is that Microsoft could have gotten it so right. They should have combined the Danger division with Windows Phone 7 and created a system which works for everybody. They also should have pushed the time-table ahead to get the phones out a year ago when apps weren’t as important (of course, this might have created quality problems, so maybe it is better that they waited). Instead, Microsoft chose to stick with a Sidekick mentality in an iPhone world.
Article posted by: Joseph May
Bio: Joseph is a major technology buff; he's well-versed on just anything mobile. Joseph also considers himself to be a Microsoft "guru." In his spare time, Joseph enjoys working on artistic endeavors, including industrial and automotive design. Joseph often finds himself contemplating how technology is changing our lives and considerers himself pretty good at forecasting (and creating) concepts of the future of technology.
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