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Deceased Microsoft KIN: Another Look

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Small businesses, let's learn a lesson or three from the recent demise of the Microsoft (MSFT) KIN.

Last week, Microsoft's smartphone spazness reached unheard of, almost Deepwater Horizon, depths. After just six weeks on the market -- six weeks -- the once-dominant software giant yanked its KIN ONE and TWO smartphones. The KIN faced an almost unanimous technorati dis: the phone, and the Windows Mobile 7 OS that it ran on, were smeared as clumsy, poorly designed and littered with bugs.

Having spent about a month actually deploying the KIN ONE in my small business, I saw it differently. And while there were plenty of KIN issues, the unit's clever design, blissfully small size, easy-to-use keyboard and ground-breaking mobile social-media integration made the $50 KIN a pretty darn easy way for a small shop to collaborate.

And here are the three big lessons to be learned.

Don't fear going small on the go: The KIN's great gift to small business was its small size. At a mere 3 inches in diameter and less than a half-inch thick, the KIN was essentially invisible compared with the Big Mac in your pocket that is the, say, Sprint (S) EVO. And such a way tiny unit turned out to be way handy. I almost was never without the KIN. And a svelte tool in hand is worth two big ones lost in the digital bush.

If Microsoft showed one thing, it's that a smaller, relatively powerful smartphone can serve a big business niche. The rule now is, get as tiny as you can for your next smartphone, and you'll see a big gain in usage and efficiency.

Demand a lot from your next QWERTY: Spend three seconds with the KIN's easy-to-use, yet not ginormous, keyboard and you'll see just how bad traditional QWERTY data-entry interfaces have become. Sharp, maker of the KIN, deserves all the credit for re-rendering the classic, traditional keyboard interface into an idiot-proof data-entry system. And accept no less from the next business phone you buy. Make dang sure you can type on it clearly, quickly and comfortably. If Sharp can do it, so should everyone else.

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