What it was: Two not-quite-smartphones, manufactured by Sharp and on the Verizon Wireless network, that Microsoft aimed at highly social twentysomethings. Both had slide-out keyboards and touchscreens and lots of built-in features, but couldn’t run third-party apps.
Went on sale: May 6th, 2010.
What they said when it was new: “Working closely with our partners, we saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation — a phone that makes it easy to share your life moment to moment,”—Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division.
Died: June 30th, 2010.
What they said when they killed it: “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.”
Why it really failed: Well, it made perfect sense for Microsoft to focus on the vastly superior Windows Phone platform. But rumor had it that Kin sales were dreadful. As well they should have been—they were dismal, sluggish, poorly-designed handsets saddled with full-price data plans even though they weren’t quite smartphones. The only thing these phones had going in their favor was Studio, a neat service that auto-synced photos and other stuff to the Web.
Was it a tragedy it bit the big one? God, no—I’m still baffled why Microsoft bothered with the Kins in the first place, and wonder if anyone in Redmond understood that the products were turkeys.
The aftermath: Microsoft said that Verizon Wireless would continue to carry the Kins that had already been manufactured. And by golly, it did—you can still get one, for free, with a cheap service plan. Someday they’ll sell ‘em all, I’m sure.