So by now, I think we have all heard that Microsoft’s latest device, Kin, which was billed as the first phone built for social networking has been taken off the market after only two months in consumers hands.
As a result, I thought it would be good timing to discuss how to handle PR when products shut down.
Ahhh, the Kin. I was a bit confused by the need for such a device when it was announced, how about you? I mean smart phones are exactly that now, smart and can handle social networking…so why would I need a special phone just for that? Its selling points didn’t grab me. Like Apple products that come onto the market, they are trailblazers and become mainstays in our life. Can you imagine not having an iPod, iTouch or iPad in your life now? But, a Kin. It wasn’t a necessity, but a gimmick that Microsoft thought would be the “in” thing for young consumers.
I mean it looked cool and I understand what it did. It shot great photos with its camera and you could easily share videos and text for social sites. But, with so many other devices capable of the doing the same thing…I guess in two short months consumers didn’t feel the need for it in their lives.
I have recently experienced this myself as I start my own social media agency. I am finding that if my potential client is not open to social media or an advocate of it – then it’s best for the both of us not to do business together-that is not until that client understands the power of new media. Therefore, the Kin is a product that probably was ahead of its time and the market was too small to understand its need.
I mean I recently attended a meeting where Sprint’s 4G network was discussed through the use of the HTC EVO android phone. That phone can do the same things and a few more than the new iPhone 4 can do and it sure can handle everything that the Kin does. So as Microsoft found out – there really wasn’t a need for Kin.
And as a PR pro, I applaud Microsoft for having the guts and um balls to pull the plug on the device and face defeat. I know corporately it was a hard decision to make for not only did Microsoft face personal embarrassment, but so did Verizon who was the sole carrier. Verizon supported this concept and thus went down with them.
But, I want to remind you – that there is no such thing as failure. Look at Thomas Edison, a premier inventor. He did over 10,000 tweaks to the incandescent light bulb before he perfected it and showed it off. To him, this is how he views failure.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. T. Edison.
So that’s my PR advice to you. When a product, a TV show or employee is not performing, don’t be afraid to advise your CEO that he/she can pull the plug. The company will be better off in the long run for it and embarrassment of its demise will be remembered for less than a week. Some other news story will take its place and you will be able to get on with your work as usual.
Look at Toyota…they are weathering the storm and are getting back to work. Cut bait and move on.
If you don’t – then your job as the head of the PR dept. will get quite messy. You will spend a good chuck of your time every day putting out fires from leaks that will arise as news of your product’s ineffectiveness starts to hit the media or is shared through social media.
People have a hard time keeping secrets. And when dealing with television shows, you can never hide the ratings. Consumers can see how last night’s episode performed or didn’t perform.
Be on top of your game and like Thomas Edison – keep perfecting your product. I’m sure elements of the Kin will remain in the next device that Microsoft launches for it did produce some novel touches.
Soldier on for it takes more courage to admit defeat than to live a lie.
Good job Microsoft. You did the right thing and deserve respect for trying. There’s no black eye in this situation.