Microsoft's Kin: Preemptive post-mortem, why it went wrong

Microsoft's Kin devices have been killed off after selling only 500 phones. It was doomed to fail from the start, and this pre-emptive post-mortem was actually available weeks ago.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

It has been a bad week for Microsoft. The Kin phones of which it invested so heavily as its younger-person wildcard, the phone which would revolutionise how kids and students use their phone in the socialite atmosphere they live and breathe, failed miserably to launch and landed flat on its face.


The second wind of near-death could have been an opportunity for the target audience to really engage with the device, seeing as the pricing was cut by around half of what it was originally - an extortionate amount which could not have been maintained by the teenager user.

But the Kin is now dead, and the plug has been firmly pulled from the project's life support. Senior editor, Sam Diaz covered the story yesterday afternoon pointing out that the software giant has said very little about the sacrifice.

Microsoft only sold 500 of the devices. Matt Miller, cellphone and smartphone guru made it clear that the intended teenage audience didn't need or want a scaled-down smartphone as iPhone's and BlackBerry's are sophisticated and powerful enough. Teenagers don't want or need to be patronised by being forced upon them a device which let's them do things simply. The need to explore, to have advanced features and settings and an experience of which to learn and create with.

As Mary Jo Foley points out, the wider roll-out of Kin phones to Europe were dashed suddenly, seemingly going against the 'official' word of a Twitter post. Microsoft really did just drop it from a great height without telling anybody about it, even those working on it.

So what was the problem exactly?

Well, the phones were crap, for a start. The overall concept was not thought about  properly. In how I see it, the teenage audience were indeed thought about a great deal - but in principle and in theory alone, most probably by a group of near middle-aged designers and product managers writing concepts on a whiteboard in their small, nuclear setting with no input or consideration from the demographic they were discussing.

I hate to say, "I told you so", and people criticised what I said at the time - but I wouldn't say I was wrong.

"The Generation Y choose the technology, the products and the services to use and to buy. The market doesn't dictate to us, and we do not usually conform to products or services “aimed” at us. If we want to use it, we will, but not because a company or organisation says we should based on what they offer."

Any last words?

Editorial standards