How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

Summary: After several years in development, and a billion dollars spent on the project, Microsoft pulled the plug on the Kin handset project after only two months. But how many handsets did Microsoft sell in that time?

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After several years in development, and a billion dollars spent on the project, Microsoft pulled the plug on the Kin handset project after only two months. But how many handsets did Microsoft sell in that time?

Well, blogger John Gruber got word from a tipster that Microsoft had shifted only 503 handsets in that time. That's a really low, and depressing number.

However, it seems that this number is out by a couple of orders of magnitude. The clever chaps from pocketnow.com took a look at the number of active users for the Kin Facebook app and found 8,810 monthly active users (oh, and three friends).

Billion dollars spent, 8,810 handsets sold, that makes each handset worth ... lemme get my calculator ... $113,507!

This still leaves open the possibility that many of these users are testers linked in some way to the Kin project ... it'll be interesting to see how these numbers change over time. What this does is give us a clue as to the ballpark figure for the Kin user marketshare ... and one thing's clear, it's small.

Maybe if people hold onto them for a while, they'll be worth something one day. Or maybe not ...

So, what went wrong with Kin? Why did this project explode in Microsoft's face so badly? I don't think it was one thing in particular:

  • Primarily, Microsoft missed the mark in terms of the handset. Kin was too little, too late.
  • Microsoft misunderstood the teen/tween/social market. The Redmond giant blundered into this market in an ugly, comical way and tried to be cool, like a dad might at a kid's birthday party.
  • Mismanagement.
  • The handset was priced badly.
  • Verizon helped in the death of Kin by shackling it to a smartphone contract.

Truth though is, 500 or 10,000 sold, this was still a FAIL of epic proportions for Microsoft. The Redmond giant now wants to put this whole Kin fiasco behind it and put focus onto Windows Phone 7. But apart from Xbox, Microsoft hasn't had much success when it comes to hardware, so i wouldn't go betting the farm on this project right now either.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility

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21 comments
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  • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

    That 8,810 number is meaningless since it's possible to be the user of an app on Facebook without having the phone!
    cj100570@...
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @cj100570@... Not if that Facebook app is only available on Kin phones and the Kin Studio (which is also only available to users who have a KIN phone).
      AdamzP
  • 1 Billion Dollars?

    I read your other post where you said they spent 500m acquiring Danger. You then DECIDED that MS spent anther 500m on development. Can you back up that figure with at least some credible reasoning for the estimate?

    Or is this yet more lousy journalism hiding behind "blogging"?

    For the record, I enjoy reading opinions, but you seem to be throwing around random numbers as facts.
    mep01378
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @mep01378 <br>I disputed the 1 billion number as well; I don't believe the cost of Danger can be strictly written off a cost of Kin.<br><br>I have been seeing that number elsewhere, but the amount is unattributed and we know that the internet is optimized for being an echo chamber.<br><br>As to journalism and blogging, let me say that this site is built on a few news stories (which look like shallow rewrites of press releases) and news hook oriented opinion. It is what it is and what it is likely to be. I really don't hold it against them.<br><br>The actual dollar value of the Kin writedown is beside the points. Certainly beside the points that interest me. Does the Kin failure (would debacle be an appropriate word here) say any thing meaningful about Microsoft, its leaders, or the E&D division. I suspect it does, but it doesn't say any thing new, it merely shines a light from a different angle.<br><br>I think a more interesting question is why a company buys another company for its talent and the things they built and then pulls them to work the Augean stables. One month, they are being told "You guys are geniuses, we like what you did here." and later, "What you did: worthless. Hey we need you over here to put out this ten year old junkyard fire, please report to the manager who was running the last team we had working on this."<br><br>Much like what I saw in the early 90s in the music business. "Guys we love you, your sound is fresh and you've got charisma and street credibility and we dig the guitarist. Please sign." And later, "Okay, we've got you booked in the studio. We need you to sound like Guns 'n' Roses, here's the single (it's a song from our publishing catalog), we're going with this as your first single. But trust us, if we break this first record, we'll get back to you doing your songs, unless they sound nothing like the first record."<br><br>Clearly, I think the Microsoft-Danger story is an old one. Maybe there isn't any thing new to say there, either.
      DannyO_0x98
  • Xbox is a success?

    Hmm... Not sure the Xbox is a successful piece of hardware...no piece of gaming hardware has EVER had this high a failure rate. 80% hardware failure rates, and people swapping out multiple units is not a success.

    Plus, Xbox isn't even the leader in sales... the Wii is having it for lunch. The Wii has sold way more units and has far more successful games in terms of number sold.
    condelirios
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @condelirios You forgot one thing. Last I heard, they still lost money on every console sold. If they sold more, it would be MORE of a failure.
      grant@...
      • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

        @grant@... Really? I thought Nintendo had consistently turned a profit from hardware from day one. Do you have any links to back that up?

        http://www.gamespot.com/news/6157690.html
        jrockefeller1@...
    • XBox is a success

      @condelirios
      http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/07/bloomberg-estimates-xbox-live-to-be-worth-1-billion/

      That's $1,000,000,000+/year just from XBox live.
      NonZealot
  • 8000

    Is one order of magnitude greater than 500. 50,000 would be two orders of magnitude greater.
    frgough
  • You're incorrect on the cost per unit as

    that drops considerably when you feature in the work that moved to, or came from Windows Phone 7.

    Isn't that how all businesses work?
    John Zern
  • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

    For me, KIN ONE looks pretty cool with a stylish UI. So, how can you know what teens/young people want or what not?
    Mr.Gonzo
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @Mr.Gonzo

      Being a 52 year old man, I can't answer that question either. But one thing is clear, when it comes to developing something with the cool factor, the people at Apple know how and the people at Microsoft do not.

      Disclaimer: I am not a fanboy. I own no Apple products.
      donniebnyc666
      • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

        @donniebnyc@...

        Everything is just a matter taste! What Apple does really good is marketing. I bet that Apple products won't nearly sell that good if they won't spend lots of money for advertisment. I think this is simply the key to Apples cool factor. It's their TV comercials with their catchy songs.

        Regarding to UI i am more attracted by Windows instead of OSX.
        Mr.Gonzo
  • Microsoft needs to stop the "me too" method.

    This is not a slam, but an observation. MS would see the latest trend that does catch on, attempt (and used to successfully freeze) the market, copy the competition then market like crazy and take over the said market. In early 2007 or late 2006, the looked and said "what's hotnow", then set about in a deliberate slow methodical way to re-create cutting edge 2007 hotness and release it 3 years later.

    The problem is, 3 years is an eternity with all the massive competition out there. In 3 years, iOS4, EVO From Sprint, Droid X will be "quant" when we have flexible phones, bluetooth eye pieces, full hands free (super accurate voice navigation), etc.

    So, Microsoft, let your good minds set the agenda, set them free, do something you NEVER do and don't follow, LEAD. Take a chance, you will lose if Windows 7 is targeting iOS4 or Android as they are today and any new projects, think about what the market will be like when they are released, not as it is today.

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @TripleII

      "So, Microsoft, let your good minds set the agenda, set them free, do something you NEVER do and don't follow, LEAD."

      They can't. The way Microsoft internal politics works, it's basically "survival of the most aggressive".

      GOOD ideas can be earthshaking, disruptive, and require ten years of preparation, but "aggressive" is not part of the equation.

      And Microsoft has "aggressive" in their DNA.

      Microsoft succeeded by being aggressive. They took somebody else's ideas, and then beat down all their competitors until they were on top.

      Somehow that's not working anymore, and they don't know what to do.

      If they were smart, they'd embrace the Android/Chrome ecosystem and build products based on that.

      It would be easy enough to put in WINE to run 90% of existing Windows apps.

      But then they couldn't CONTROL the market. So that isn't going to happen.
      Jkirk3279
  • 1 billion

    Ridikolous figure unrelated to Kin
    IE9
  • Why does MS let Apple lead?

    The iPhone/KIN difference is a pretty good indication that MS is letting Apple define markets. Apple did it with the iPod, iPhone and now iPad. Defining consumer markets is a skill that MS "should" be able to do. They certainly have the money to hire talented people - people on the same level as Jonathan Ive.

    But it seems that MS is simply letting Apple define the new major markets, diss them initially and try to enter the market later.
    Ken_z
    • Wow, that is some fancy history revision going on there!!

      The PMP, smartphone, and tablet markets were well defined long before Apple ever entered them. That Apple was able to come in later and market the heck out of their me-too products doesn't mean that Apple defined the markets, it means that Apple has fantastic marketing. The iPod didn't define the PMP market at all, it was simply more successful. Same goes with iPhone and iPad. It would be like saying Toyota defined the automobile market because they are currently #1 and that Ford is only just now trying to get into the market.

      Apple identifies previously defined markets, spots weaknesses in the competitors, creates a me-too product, and then markets incredibly well. Never, even once, has Apple ever defined a market.
      NonZealot
    • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

      @Ken_z

      "They certainly have the money to hire talented people"

      I've puzzled over that for years. I finally concluded that their corporate culture doesn't reward creativity. It rewards aggression.

      Microsoft is like 'a roaring lion'.

      Evolution, or God, has specialized the Lion for it's niche.

      And it's just not a creative niche. Brute force is their thing.
      Jkirk3279
  • RE: How many Kin handsets did Microsoft sell?

    If you aren't failing, you aren't trying. Get it right 51% of the time and you're ahead of the game. The size of the failure is a measure of the size of the ambition.

    Microsoft has no small projects, so it has no small failures.

    Move on; Microsoft has.
    Marc Thibault