Microsoft Kills Kins, Six Weeks After Launch

14 Comments

Updated: Microsoft’s supposed comeback to the mobile market with the Kin twins — two phones for the teenage set — has run into trouble. Apparently, the phones are not selling and the company today announced price cuts. Kin One is now being sold for $30 (down from $50) after a $100 discount. Kin Two with a bigger screen is now being sold for $50 down from $100 (after the $100 discount on a two-year contract.) These cuts went into effect six weeks after the Kin devices went on sale — indicating that there are not many buyers. These cuts come despite some heavy promotion by Microsoft on VH1 and MTV.

Frankly, I am not surprised. First of all, the phones — despite their interesting looks — lack a certain hipness that comes with some of today’s new phones. In my first hands-on experience of the devices, I felt they were “trying to do too many things at once. And in the process, it’s defying what has become standard user behavior among young people: trying and buying applications.?” In the end they lacked a certain coherence. The market seems to agree with that prognosis. Of course, what hasn’t helped is that the phones are saddled with smartphone-like data plans even though the phones are being targeted at budget-sensitive teens.

Update: It appears that the reduced pricing could be part of a fire sale as Gizmodo reports that Microsoft is close to killing off the already dying Kin. Microsoft confirms a change in strategy and offered this statement to Gizmodo:

We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we 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.

14 Comments

Dr. Phil Hendrix

Pulling the Kin (or any product, for that matter) after it’s been on the market for just six weeks is a collosal failure. While the missed revenue targets are not inconsequential, even more significant is the damage to an organization’s reputation and to the morale and confidence of its teams. The irony is that this sort of fiasco, like others (Google Buzz; New Coke; etc.) can be avoided (see “Estimating Demand for New-to-Market Products,” http://bit.ly/9kJ1tZ, p. 3 and 13 especially) – however, it requires (i) a process that systematically exposes designers and developers to users’ “unvarnished” feedback, and (ii) the agility to make adjustments and the discipline to scrap poorly performing concepts. I’m unsure how the Kin’s value proposition would have fared (see “Does Your Value Proposition Answer these 10 Key Questions?” at http://bit.ly/aRav6q),” but I’d be shocked if early prototypes scored well on design, usability and other metrics that foreshadow the success/failure of new devices.

The Kin clearly should have been shelved well before it reached the market – the real question is whether MS learned lessons that will allow it to succeed in the future. While many observers are doubtful, Motorola and others have shown that it is possible to regain the edge in mobile design and innovation.

Dr. Phil Hendrix, immr and GigaOm Pro analyst

R2D2

R2D2 here,

MS says “valuable lessons learned.” I laughed so hard a resistor blew out of my nose. What is MS thinking? Oh, they aren’t. MS “No Kin Do” was a F A I L from the word go. Just one look at that device said “Run” to earthlings who know my Droids. Wise up MS! My Droids are being made by the millions on Tatooine. The Force is with us!

Droids rule. You heard it here from R2D2

Charles Windsor VI

Microsoft has got to be the most non innovative tech company in the history of computing. They certainly don’t get the mobile phone/computing market at all. They were stuck in a stylus world for like 10 years with no innovation at all. Their desktop OS has been spruced up on the outside but is still based on 1993 NT kernel on the innards and boy does it show. Hopefully they will just fade away and be a footnote in computer history, one we can all forget rather easily since almost everything that ever came out of Redmond was either copied or stolen from others.

John

They never really believed in mobile computing. When they were finally dragged into the game their lack of focus, strategy and dare I say vision translated into one big, fat, incoherent mess. MS is the best example of how monopolies produce inefficiencies and waste of resources…

Virtuous

MS wasted $500 million buying Danger. Fortunately for them they can afford to blow $0.5 billion.

Anonymous

Microsoft may have a prayer if they can sell these phones on extremely competent youth oriented Virgin Mobile pre-paid plans. For $25, a person could get unlimited messaging and web browsing as well as 300 minutes of talk. In my opinion that would be a great outlet for these phones. Technology also won’t be a big issue as both use CDMA. Whether Virgin Mobile would want to sell these phones on their plans is a different issue.

slim

+1000 bravo, this guy is thinking right. Kin’s hardware price doesn’t really matter. it’s the obscene VZW voice+data plans that are killing this product.

if Virgin Mobile, MetroPCS, or Cricket launched this beyotch, MS may actually sell a few.

Adam B.

When the Kin was first announced, Microsoft was telling everyone about the commonality the Kin had with Windows Phone 7.

We were told both had similarities with the interface and similar core technologies. Here’s a quote from Microsoft earlier this year:
“Both KIN and Windows Phone 7 share common OS components, software and services. We will seek to align around a single platform for both products as well as consistent hardware specifications.”

Windows Phone 7 was proclaimed as being Kin’s “close cousin”. Now, you can bet Microsoft will want to distance WP7 as far away as possible from Kin’s failure. Microsoft will want to quietly sweep Kin under the carpet, and pretend it never happened.

gmazin

Silly Microsoft, teens aren’t going to buy phones marketed specifically at teens. They want full, adult phones.

AK

Too bad so sad… the last chance for them is Windows Phone 7. If they miss that one, I don’t know about their future in the mobile world.

Rich

Other than the Xbox, when Microsoft ventures outside the desktop computer world they don’t seem to be very successful. It’s like they don’t understand the markets.

johnny

Exactly. MSFT needs to completely GUT their top management team (including Ballmer), open source Windows – really open source it – and focus 90% of their resources on their xBox platform which is the one thing they are really doing well. Open up the Kinect platform for multimedia apps beyond gaming, open up xbox live to more ‘homebrew’ development and watch the cool apps appear. Office is still a killer suite, but MSFT has never done mobile well – at all. They suck at the Internet too. Now Xbox has the potential to be THE in-home entertainment platform / dashboard / media central nervous system – IF they don’t f it up by being too restrictive in their development strategy. DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS

glu

I met a couple of Microsoft guys at a swanky bar in NYC several weeks prior to the Kin launch. They were demoing the Kin to some of my lady friends in hopes of getting some “authentic feedback”. The ladies could’ve cared less about the device but I was more than willing to share my thoughts.
After playing with the Kin for a min, my immediate impression was Sidekick 2010. I started asking questions about the price point and what their plans were to push the Kin into urban markets. The MSFT man looked at me with confusion and disgust. It seemed I didnt really understand that this was a “really cool” device with an “innovative” interface. I must have misinterpreted the immediate dismissal of the device by my peers. I mean, who wouldn’t want a third-rate phone with a wack OS and an expensive data plan?

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