Another Microsoft phone project up in the air

Microsoft says it is figuring out the next steps for OneApp, a project designed to allow applications to run on a variety of feature phones.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Microsoft's Kin isn't the only phone project from Redmond whose fate is uncertain.

The software maker announced last year a project called OneApp, which was aimed at putting applications on a variety of not-so-smart phones. The idea was to create a software layer that could run on the kind of basic phones popular in emerging markets. Developers could then write software that would run on top of OneApp and thus run on a wide range of phones.

A mock-up of OneApp running on a feature phone allowing access to Facebook and other applications Microsoft

The company tested OneApp with carrier Blue Label Telecom in South Africa last year and also conducted some evaluation programs with other carriers, but has yet to announce its use anywhere else. From what I hear, the company is in the process of deciding where to go next.

In a statement to CNET Thursday, Microsoft was rather circumspect about the project's future.

"While we can't share specific results we remain excited about the potential of the OneApp technology and continue to evolve its strategy," Microsoft said. "OneApp is a valuable mobile technology with many possible applications."

It's worth pointing out that OneApp is being run by an entirely different part of the company from the mobile unit that is responsible for Kin and Windows Phone. OneApp is part of the Startup Business Group run by Amit Mital. That is the group responsible for the Tag bar code technology and Hohm energy-monitoring project. The group also ran ResponsePoint, Microsoft's now-discontinued phone system for small businesses.

As for the Kin, Microsoft announced on Wednesday it was dumping the project less than two months after the first Kin models hit the market.

Although Verizon will still sell the existing inventory, Microsoft won't take the social media-oriented phones to Europe, nor will it continue work on future products. Those who were working on the Kin are being folded into the Windows Phone 7 project, Microsoft's effort to get back in the smartphone game.