Microsoft branded tablet coming? Gadget failures to remember

Microsoft branded tablet coming? Gadget failures to remember

Summary: If a Microsoft branded tablet is unveiled today, hopefully it won't be another Kin.


Microsoft did something rarely accomplished by a tech company, with its surprise announcement of a press event to be held today where speculation of an unveiling of a some sort of tablet is expected. The tech press was caught flat-footed by this unexpected news and rumors about what the folks in Redmond will launch are rampant.

Colleague Mary Jo Foley wonders if this will be an ebook reader on steroids, kind of like the Kindle Fire, rather than a full-blown Windows RT tablet. This would be easier to pass off on Microsoft's partners who are lining up their own Windows tablets for launch later this year.

Ed Bott isn't so sure about that but would be happy if a tablet was behind all the mystery. He hits the nail on the head when he points out that whatever Microsoft announces better not be 4-6 months away from delivery.

See related: What a Microsoft tablet needs to compete with the iPad

Whatever Microsoft unleashes today, it's pertinent to remember that if it flops, big companies aren't afraid to pull the plug quickly and move on. Microsoft did that with the infamous Kin smartphone line. If you remember the Kin phones they were handsets that seemed to be rushed to market, aimed at a target audience with little disposable income, and saddled with expensive data plans.

They weren't received well by the market and Microsoft killed them off without hesitation. Should the same reception greet whatever this mystery tablet we're expecting to hear about today, no doubt the plug will be pulled quickly.

You don't have to go back too far in history to find other major gadgets that got the same treatment by the creators. Palm was betting the farm on the Foleo, a laptop dock that used a smartphone to power it, yet canceled it at the 11th hour. It never made it to market but was literally only days away from that when it was aborted.

More recently the HP TouchPad tablet was killed only days after its launch. Even after a massive $1.2 billion purchase of Palm and a massive roll-out of the TouchPad, HP put a stop to not only the tablet but all webOS devices. The subsequent open-sourcing of the platform was the direct result of killing the entire product line at HP.

There is no telling what Microsoft will let loose on the tech world, and they might even be successful with it like the Xbox. But if they flop like they did with the Kin, don't worry. They'll just yank the plug and move on. It will end up joining the ranks of the little gadgets that couldn't.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • I'm leaning...

    I'm leaning towards a 7 inch Windows RT tablet/e-reader, built and sold by Nokia, with ebook and media support from Barnes & Noble and app support from the Windows RT store.
  • Kin

    Kin was not rushed to the market. It was the result of Microsoft buying Danger (for no reason that I can think of) and being caught in the transition as consumers moved from feature phone to smartphone. Great device, bad timing... it happens.
    • Oh, there's a lot more to it than that.

      I'm hoping the Mary Jo will write another Microsoft book about the Roz Ho/Project Pink/Windows Phone 7 soap opera that existed at Microsoft between 2009 and 2011.
    • Actually...

      ...there was an unofficial contest between the Pink team and the WP team where the Pink team wanted to beat WP to market with a reasonably decent handset targeting pre-teens and young teens.

      The idea was great, but it had one huge problem per the tech community (no app store) and one slightly smaller problem (expensive data plans).

      The thing is that no app store for the Kin was intentional. When you're targeting young users, do you really think their parents want them to be able to make random, and potentially costly, app purchases? At the time there were a number of horror stories about parents getting massive bills for their kids iPhones because of exactly that.

      Updates would have been "over the air" with new functionality added by subsequent releases of the firmware (and those updates would have been provided free, no cost to the data plan, at least that was the original intent).

      The other problem wasn't really a Microsoft created problem, it was the service provider's creatd problem: They didn't care about the reality of the device, they just wanted to make their money and so treated it as a full functioning smart phone (like the iPhone) rather than the device it really was.

      The devices themselves (Turtle and Lion) were actually pretty nice devices with slideout keyboards and some great functionalty (automatic cloud storage and "The Spot" for social sharing).
  • Wait for Tango, Mango, Chimichango

    [ul][i]whatever Microsoft announces better not be 4-6 months away from delivery.[/i][/ul]Why is that? A good 4-6 month stall is exactly what they need. Sure, the consumer market would ignore it, but there are plenty of IT departments that would use such an announcement to explain to their users why they aren't buying anything else.

    I don't believe today's 'event' will be about a tablet. I think it'll turn out to be Hollywood stuff.
    Robert Hahn
  • Microsoft branded tablet coming? Gadget failures to remember

    Kin's failure was due to Verizon charging a data plan on a feature phone. That made no sense and they wondered why no one was buying it. I'm curious to see what Microsoft announces today. Whatever it is will include video and music.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Microsoft MSFT Redmond

    This was made in India, they only have an office in Redmond now. The entire company is outsourced today. A real fact noone is willing to talk about.

    We are willing to speak before Congress and tell the story of how one company destroyed an entire industry. During this election year, contact your local politicians and let them know.

    Does not matter as development is out-sourced to India anyways. Lets celebrate and promote India, Pune, New Delhi, innovations, congratulations!

    The entire development is from non-us-citizens on H1-B visas working for the lowest wage. Which has ruined the industry and made local workers impoverished and starving taking jobs under a standard cost of living. With real estate rising, local recruits around Redmond can NOT afford gasoline to make it to work. Driving prices down and the defeat by apple has proven costly to the surrounding areas. Prices still remain what they were and rising yet wages have fallen 75% since 2008. The wages have bottomed out all the way to minimum wage, which makes it IMPOSSIBLE logically to afford food. Thousands of Microsoft employees wait in food lines and at the food banks around town as they work on projects like this. Demand better wages, and you will get quality products.

    As tech companies follow the same routine, they lead by example and thousands of other major tech companies do the same. They have ruined an industry completely. Since they do not support workers rights this application hardware device will be over priced and less-quality than the already systems being sold today. Boycott Microsoft for crimes against software humanity. Demand higher wages for all tech workers.

    Together we can win back our lives and save this country. We support Redmond workers and demand justice.
    • This field is required

      Right, so what you are saying is we should boycott every U.S. company then?
  • If it were an iPad...

    I'm pretty sure you wouldn't write an article about failed products prior to an Apple announcement. So why do it for Microsoft?
    Big Sparky
  • Oh yeah...

    I'd forgotten about the Kin. Hopefully it won't be another Kin. I'm not sure Kin was actually a "bad product" but it just didn't fit with anything Microsoft were doing.

    Given the high profile this is getting, I think it'll be better integrated with the rest of their strategy.

    I'm wondering if it's Kinect for PC... maybe?