Jun 302010

Microsoft sure is getting good at killing products. Last month it was the non-product Courier, which got some significant starring roles in animations that were leaked to the tech press around the time of the iPad’s launch.

This month Redmond is putting its recently-released Kin phones out to pasture – less than 2 months after a marketing blitz of a release that featured impeccably-dressed angsty tweens and continued a Microsoft tradition of top-notch advertising. The company says it will integrate the Kin group, led by Sidekick data-killer Roz Ho, with the Windows Phone Series 7 Series Phone Thingy team.

It’s refreshing to see Microsoft being able to pull the plug not just on products they had no intention of releasing anyway, but on things that actually ship. This level of discipline and self-awareness bodes well for them, even if the 48 day flameout of a major product line is – how can one put this gently – a fucking abomination? If realizing no one wants your consumer electronics offerings is the prerequisite for getting axed, one wonders if Microsoft will even have a Entertainment and Devices division in the near term.

Jun 302010

After much speculation, Hulu announced Hulu Plus – its pay service that will run on multiple platforms, including the iPad, iPhone 4 and iPhone3GS. For $9.99/month, you get a deeper reservoir of TV show content, both current and past as well as access to a limited (as in, “High Fidelity” is the only movie I recognized at a glance) pool of movies.

The good:

-It runs on all current Apple devices. As a bonus, it tweaks Adobe, who is constantly dropping the Hulu name as the major reason iOS devices need Flash. Suck it, Narayen.

-Most content is in 720p

-There’s a lot of network TV to watch?

The bad:

-Still has ads. Seriously.

-It’s a little less than a basic cable subscription and $9.99/month more than over-the-air HD. A basic Netflix account will give you streaming access to one metric buttload of movies (as current as the “Surrogates” vintage) and season after season of TV shows (including BBC content) for a buck less a month. It’ll also give you access to first-run DVD titles by mail.

Now you may have guessed that I’m not a huge network TV guy. Maybe it’s because I like swearing too much. Maybe it’s because seeing Meredith Grey’s terrible complexion in HD combined with her incessant on-screen whining is a recipe for an instant aneurism. I also understand that this is the Future of Television (bold to denote major scary paradigm shift) and therefore the networks have to price this as aggressively as they can get away with before they back down to something that a rational person would pay. But $9.99 ain’t it. Also, with regard to including advertising in your pay service model: get fucked.

I do appreciate your tweaking Adobe, however. So there’s that.

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