After mediocre feedback to the leaked Microsoft Pink handsets, Turtle and Pure, now comes word from inside the project itself that the whole house of cards may be close to tumbling. An ex-team member has been talking to Apple Insider about the Pink “skunkworks” project and its mismanagement, including attempting to develop too many SKUs simultaneously, potentially misleading hardware and carrier partners, and in the process pulling the rug out from the already-ailing Windows Mobile. In fact, he reckons the Pink project is “near death and probably will be canceled”.
According to the unnamed source, the handset design leaks were likely from Microsoft themselves in an attempt to drive enthusiasm for the Pink project. However the news that Sharp has been the Pink team’s sole hardware partner is expected to sour Microsoft’s relationship with Windows Mobile device manufacturers such as HTC; Palm and Motorola have already dropped out of developing new Windows Phones. Similarly, Verizon are expected to be angry with their being named as a potential Pink carrier, since this could impact their CDMA iPhone, webOS and RIM plans. The source also quotes a whopping 25-percent Windows Mobile Verizon return rate for dissatisfaction.
T-Mobile are another carrier tipped to be affected, as they work closely with the Danger team and Sharp on the Sidekick.:
“I don’t know exactly what Microsoft has been telling them, but they have no doubt realized that they’ve been cut out of this deal in favor of their largest competitor. What’s worse is that apparently Microsoft has been lying to them this whole time about the amount of resources that they’ve been putting behind Sidekick development and support (in reality, it was cut down to a handful of people in Palo Alto managing some contractors in Romania, Ukraine, etc.)”
The source fingers Roz Ho, head of Premium Mobile Experiences (aka the lead in the Pink project), together with Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie as most responsible for the ongoing disaster. Windows Mobile and the Zune teams have already been duplicating each others’ work as the projects have been kept segregated; now it’s transpired that the Pink team have been doing the same, and not only that but potentially cannibalizing elements of both (but particularly the Windows Phone platform). It makes for an interesting read – Apple Insider also chart the development of the various mobile platforms, including Android and iPhone – together with a worrying diagnosis for Microsoft’s mobile outlook.