Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

Summary: On the last day of June, the Softies announced they had decided against selling the Kins in Europe and planned to fold the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 team.

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Microsoft has decided to cut its losses early with the Kin phones.

The company rolled out the Kin One and Kin Two phones in April and began selling them in May. On the last day of June, the Softies announced they had decided against selling the Kins in Europe and planned to fold the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 team.

The official statement from a company spokesperson:

“Microsoft has made the decision to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned.   Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases.   We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”

(I guess that explains Verizon's price cuts on Kin this week. It's a fire sale. It's not clear who will buy the current Kin stock at this point, however.)

Kin, formerly codenamed Pink, had a tumultuous history even before it was launched, based on various leaks I'd gotten over the past couple of years. The project was on again, then off again. I heard Kin might be introduced as services only; then as a Microsoft phone plus services. It sounded like a number of the Danger team acquired by Microsoft quit because of disagreements with management over the direction of the Pink project.

Once the Kin was announced, Microsoft's decision to use neither Windows Mobile nor Windows Phone OS 7 as the operating system -- instead it was a hybrid of sorts of the two -- left company watchers scratching their heads. Microsoft's failure to provide an app store for the devices was another ding. Once Verizon introduced the Kins with exorbitantly priced data plans, they seemed unlikely to get the kind of uptake Microsoft had hoped.

I've heard talk that Microsoft may use an adaptation of some of the Kin concepts, like the Kin Studio, for Windows Phone 7. If they don't, that was one heck of an expensive project with no results.

I guess it's better to cut your losses earlier rather than later if you're Microsoft. But it seems as though as it would have been better to scrap the Kin before it ever launched.

Update: It looks like the decision to halt the Kin launch in Europe was pretty sudden (and not something even Microsoft's own Kin team members knew about). Check out this tweet from just a few hours ago from the official @kin twitter account:

Topics: Software, CXO, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Telcos, IT Employment, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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27 comments
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  • Most Embarassing Fail, Ever!

    Wow. That was so fast! I was half expecting this poor little thing to limp on unloved for years!<br><br>Maybe this is a sign of a newer, smarter, Post-Bach Microsoft where second rate consumer electronics/services doesn't cut it?
    willpe
    • It really was a BIG mistake, and this is extremely embarrassing for MS.

      Do you suppose that they even sold a hundred in total? And, this is an indicator of about how well Windows Phone 7 will do.
      DonnieBoy
  • Microsoft can do nothing right

    Nothing. Period, end of story.

    Flame out MS - please just go away.
    itguy08
    • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

      @itguy08

      Yup, MS is just irrelevant now. It's hard to see what those guys at the Fortune 500 like about them. With only $58 billion in revenue and (just) under $15 billion in profit, they're clearly out of the picture when it comes to technology.
      1DaveN
      • And, the flat stock price for the last 10 years means nothing.

        NT.
        DonnieBoy
    • Nothing? I beg to differ

      @itguy08

      Aside from flaming perhaps you can recognize

      Windows OS
      Office
      Windows Live
      Visual Studio
      Zune
      Windows Mobile (To a lesser extent)

      As all success stories? They've carried on and have evolved over the years.

      Besides, it's not like Google or Apple have their failures too... Remember the Newton? How about Google Buzz? Google Gears?
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Not a good list

        Out of the list Visual Studio is probably the only one I could say it was done right.

        Zune is a HUGE failure. The fact that is still on the market is beyond comprehension.

        WinMo is another failure. Not a single WinMo phone has ever being popular and they are plagued with problems (like lockups, dropped calls, and not ringing when a call is received).

        Windows Live is nothing more than a name. It is still old crappy hotmail with a new name. In fact, it is considered the most outdated service available today.

        WinOS .... not a great history.

        Office .... try opening a file saved in O95 with the current version and see what happens.
        wackoae
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        [i]Zune is a HUGE failure. The fact that is still on the market is beyond comprehension.[/i]

        Why do you say that? I love my Zune. Judging by the Facebook group too, we're an elite few :)

        [i]WinMo is another failure. Not a single WinMo phone has ever being popular and they are plagued with problems (like lockups, dropped calls, and not ringing when a call is received).[/i]

        To a lesser extent, if it was a failure, it would be long gone, but they kept with it.

        [i]Windows Live is nothing more than a name. It is still old crappy hotmail with a new name. In fact, it is considered the most outdated service available today.[/i]

        For a "dated" service, there are still [b]more than 500 million active Windows Live IDs worldwide.[/b] (<A HREF="http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2010/06/23/windows-live-essentials-wave-4-facts-and-figures.aspx">WinsuperSite</A>)

        [i]WinOS .... not a great history.[/i]

        Microsoft's anti-trust battle was fought long ago, yet the OS is still the most sold.... It offers the most support with sacrificing user control or ease of use.

        [i]Office .... try opening a file saved in O95 with the current version and see what happens. [/i]

        I would if I had one, but all my older XP era documents open just fine.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • newton

        @NStalnecker
        remember the newton? yes. i do, but that's 30 years ago. it was developed in the absence of steve jobs and though it didn't sell as expected it was one of the conceptional and technological foundations of mobile devices (palm, handspring) to come. it had a few iterations over the years and sold a few hundred thousand units. hardly in the same league as this one.
        banned from zdnet
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        @NStalnecker There you go. I knew you'd have to be around here somewhere. I thought this was supposes to be a huge seller.

        And I agree your list is not that good. VS is a success simply because its the only tool to build for the MS platform. The cats at JetBrains would blow them out if the water. Just look at the functionality that their plugin adds. VS users will barely leave home without it. Windows Live has most of those users from its hotmail purchase. Nobody creates new live accounts anymore. Most people use it as their junk mail account to sign up for services. The only people using it are MS fanboys. You using Zine certainly doesn't make it a success. I have never seen one in the wild or even heard someone talk about it. I see many more the little Sansa players. Most everybody else is using their phone for music.

        Anyway just prepared for wp7 to go the same route. It has some of the same problems as both Zune and Kin. No amount of marketing will help that.
        storm14k
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        lol, Newton. Had to go late '80s on us for that one. And, it did last into 1998 making a modest profit in education and healthcare.

        Uh, is the Zune a success?!
        jeff.fostermedia@...
    • Well, Microsoft CAN still milk the monopolies, and that keeps the money

      rolling in for NOW. But, the flat stock price, and failures with Zune, Windows Mobile, Kin, basically anything mobile, search, online properties in general, looks rather bleak for Microsoft.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        Love that, "milking the monopolies!" Its really Apple's fault that they can do that at all. They are the lone survivor of PC history outside of Redmond. I think Mac has a 10% market share effectively. I don't think there will every be another Microsoft. They grabbed the bull when it was wild and crazy and Apple was being paranoid and arrogant. I think of when Quark Xpress ruled graphic design with a superior product and innovation until Adobe caught up (with the help of Macromedia). Speaking of monopolies, the only hope of cracking Adobe's arrogance is HTML5 and the rise of advanced mobile software (Apps). Apple and Google must take the lead and learn to complement each other rather than just compete so we can have two great platforms.
        jeff.fostermedia@...
  • Here's my guess:

    The original idea behind the Pink/Kin project was to start young people off with Microsoft, i.e.the belief that the first OS people get used to is the one they stick with. This is why the Sidekick OS was re-written in Windows CE. By the time the phones were on the market, the OS was already an antique that would do more to hurt Microsoft than help. Killing it was the right thing to do.
    zato_3@...
    • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

      @zato_3@... Apple has had the same philosophy with Macs for a nearly 30 years. While I'm a Mac user and a long time advocate, that's not worked out for them all that well. While Apple has dominated the education market, enterprise has stuck with commodity computers running Windoze. MS could have picked a different strategy than one with a long history of mediocre results.
      KIN, Zune, et al are products without vision or any connection with consumers. They are the product of a self satisfied monopoly with no real incentive to improve.
      dheady@...
  • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

    The Kin was set to test the waters for Microsoft Windows Phone 7. It had a great UI. Now that they see how interested people were they can incorporate those ideas into Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Verizon shot themselves in the foot with this so if you have questions you should ask them.
    Loverock Davidson
    • A pretty UI means nothing if it can't do anything useful

      Only idiots evaluate a product by the shell, ignoring the engine. You are probably the kind of idiot who would pay premium for a car because of the color.
      wackoae
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        @wackoae
        Except it is a fact that even the most gorgeous and well performing cars have lower resale values if they don't have the right colour.

        The people that the Kin was aimed at don't care about the engine. Does it look good, was it fun and easy to use etc. These are the sort of points they are concerned with.

        It was a bit harsh of you to call the previous poster an idiot. The same could probably be levelled at you for apparently assuming that everybody must judge an item according to the same criteria.
        Ben_E
      • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

        @wackoae
        What a very non-productive reply. Not only that but as a last resort you had to use name calling. Too bad for you.
        Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Adios, Kin. We hardly knew you

      I rather despise the phone providers, especially Verizon. They take advantage of customers ignorance rather than try to provide useful solutions. Maybe Microsoft should use their money to create a telecom that 'gets' technology and partner with hardware companies. They may need to buy a T-Mobile or Sprint who are struggling to compete.
      jeff.fostermedia@...