Microsoft has shuttered its Pioneer Studios consumer electronics operation, a skunkworks project the company had hoped would enable it to develop innovative technologies and products. Responsible for the Microsoft Courier concept, the KIN phones and various chunks of Windows Phone 7, Xbox and Zune, CNET reports, Pioneer Studios had been led my ex-Entertainment and Device CTO J Allard, who left the company last year.
Pioneer Studios’ offices in downtown Seattle are now empty, and the staff employed by the three-year long project have either moved to other positions at Microsoft or, like Allard, left altogether. The team included designers Microsoft had in part stolen from Nike and other companies, in an attempt to bypass the rigid structure the firm had become hamstrung by, and allow innovation to percolate up more freely.
Microsoft has other, similar idea incubators, and of course there’s Microsoft Research which has been responsible for pulling new technology into the company’s product line. Still, it’s disappointing to see Pioneer shuttered, even if as co-founder Georg Petschnigg admitted the team had a roughly 20-percent success rate.