The middle of the 2010 is not a good time for struggling
gadgets. Both Microsoft and Plastic Logic have put in doubt the future of two
highly touted devices – one that’s already on the market and one that hasn’t
seen the light of day.
Both the Microsoft Kin phone and the Que ProReader device
are on shaky ground. The Kin was launched just six weeks ago by the
Redmond-based company and hoped to blend social networking with cell phones.
The Que ProReader was (or is) an intriguing eReader introduced at CES this year
that was specifically tailored to the business audience.
Neither company, it should be noted, has made a formal
announcement specifically about their respective products' fate. Microsoft issued a statement that
it had decided to focus exclusively on the upcoming Windows Phone 7 and would
not be launching Kin in Europe this fall as planned. The Kin team was being
integrated with the Windows Phone 7 team.
The company plans to keep working with Verizon with current
phones, but it doesn’t sound like many (or any) updates are coming – and new
models aren’t likely either.
It’s not a completely shocking move. The Kin has struggled
to find an audience since launch, in large part due to price.
The Que’s fate came into doubt when Plastic Logic delayed it
for the second time this year – declining to give a new target ship date and canceling
all pre-orders. (It was originally scheduled to ship in mid-April.)
The eReader had many intriguing qualities, including an
8.5×11 inch touchscreen and the ability to read Word and PowerPoint
presentations, as well as digital books and PDFs. It could also sync with
Outlook, giving users access to email and their calendar.
The hurdle – and it was a big one – was price. The device
cost a whopping $650 to $800, more than five times more expensive than current
eReaders – and more than many iPad models.