Microsoft’s KIN phone platform was an interesting experiment. The phones combined aspects of smartphones and standard phones, by letting you access social networking sites, manage media, and perform other web-based activities without installing third party apps. Probably the most interesting part of the KIN experience was the KIn Studio, a web-based system allowing you to manage and access your phone’s data from any web browser.
Unfortunately, the KIN experiment was a pretty big failure. Few phones were sold, and now we’re finding that Microsoft will shut down the KIN Studio on January 31st, 2011 — erasing a lot of the functionality of a KIN phone in the process. So if you’re one of the few people who has purchased a KIN handset, it might be time to upgrade. Verizon’s reportedly making it easy by offering KIN users free 3G enabled phones between now and March 31st.
So what exactly happens to KIN phones after January 31st? They lose the ability to post updates or photos to social networking sites, the feed reader stops working, search near me stops working, contacts from your social networks won’t appear anymore, and basically your phone will only be useful for making calls, streaming Zune Pass music, and sending email.
WP Central has a run-down of all the features that will disappear when KIN Studio goes offline.
While the truth of the matter is that very few people will be affected by the death of the KIN Studio, it does show what happens when you adopt a platform where most of your data is stored in the cloud… and the service provider decides to stop supporting the service. While there are certainly benefits of moving to a cloud-based data system where much of our information is accessible anywhere you can get online, it often feels like we’re moving from a system where you own your data to one where you lease it until someone decides to take it away from you.