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Did you know that the first Microsoft phones were a $1 billion fiasco?

Posted: , by Florin T.

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Did you know that the first Microsoft phones were a $1 billion fiasco?
Four years ago, in May 2010, Microsoft launched its very first own-branded phones: the KIN ONE and KIN TWO. You probably remember them, right? Microsoft touted the two QWERTY-equipped handsets as “social phones” targeted at users between the ages of 15 and 30.

Manufactured by Sharp, the KIN ONE and KIN TWO were based on Windows CE, and had lots of common features, starting with a brand new home screen called KIN Loop - this was supposed to always keep you up to date with what happened on Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. The handsets offered cloud storage (via KIN Studio), and access to Microsoft’s Zune music service. “Social networking is built into the fabric of the phones,” proudly stated Microsoft.

The Redmond giant partnered with Verizon to exclusively launch the KIN phones in the US, asking $50 for the KIN ONE, and $100 for the KIN TWO - both prices requiring a 2-yr contract and a data plan, despite the fact that the KINs weren’t really smartphones. The whole project turned out to be a disaster. Rumors had it that only about 500 KIN phones were sold within a month from launch - although, according to other sources, there were about 8,000 KIN users registered at some point. In any case, sales were so low that Microsoft decided to stop making KIN phones after less than two months, while also cancelling their release in Europe, together with any other plans regarding new KIN devices.

It’s been estimated that Microsoft invested about $1 billion in the KIN project, including $500 million paid in 2008 to acquire Danger, Inc. - the marker of the once popular T-Mobile Sidekick series.


No apps, no games, no calendar, no navigation

where the KIN phones a fiasco? Microsoft tried to pass the blame (or part of it) to Verizon for poorly marketing the devices. But that was just a fraction of the problem. Believe it or not, the KINs did not offer access to any app store - or games, for that matter. They had no calendar, no navigation, no predictive text input, and did not allow the installation of instant messaging applications. On top of it all, pricing was inappropriate, as the two devices simply couldn’t offer what others could.

Later in 2010, Microsoft removed social networking and data-centric features from the KIN handsets, re-launching them as simple feature phones, with lower prices and new names: KIN ONEm and KIN TWOm. But Verizon didn’t sell too many of these, either.

Also later in 2010, Steve Ballmer, then Microsoft’s CEO, declared that KIN “just defocused activity from Windows Phone.” Ultimately, the KIN team, with most of the employees that had moved to Microsoft from Danger, was incorporated into the Windows Phone division. 

references: Microsoft, Information Week, The New York Times

  • Options

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:07 3

1. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Florin T.. Trolling to death... :-):-):-):-)

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:21 7

3. Florin.T (Posts: 254; Member since: 16 Dec 2013)


posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:28 1

6. DogeShibe (Posts: 1115; Member since: 10 Jan 2014)

Lol :D
Sounds more like compliment,look at that smile :-) :-) :-) :-) Such truth,very wow

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:40 4

10. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Lol!!!!!.. Well, if you have to even question whether it may possibly be a compliment, which is weird, then you've been listening to too much Limp Bizkit.... "Keep trollin, trollin, trollin"......
Setting all jokes aside.... I can't remember the last time PA posted an article about a blunder that Google, or Apple, made... I'm sure those companies aren't perfect either.... Just seems kinda unprofessional for a tech site to follow the current trend of bashing, and pointing out anything negative that can be dug up on MS... Does PA actually support the trolling of other platforms, and people's personally preferences?... If not then PA sure doesn't do a good job of trying to discourage it....
Convince me otherwise...

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 18:21 6

12. sipha (Posts: 438; Member since: 12 May 2012)

Lol. am 100% sure if google made a $1 billion dollar f*ck up, phonearena would definitely... Am all for questioning their reviews system, but their news are solid and fair!! Are you that windows phone crazy fanboy who works at samsung??

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 18:22 1

14. sipha (Posts: 438; Member since: 12 May 2012)

ment to say 'definitely cover it'

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 18:21 3

13. lyndon420 (Posts: 4965; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)

If you don't like it here, stop showing up, then all of our problems will be solved :-)

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 20:34 3

38. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Maybe it's because when it's come to mobile devices, Google and Apple have actually been pretty competent at their jobs.

I would *kind of, maybe* understand if you were raging on an article bashing WP, but you're really here to whine and get all butthurt and defensive about the MFing KIN?! Dude, you have zero sympathy here.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 21:55 4

57. tadaa (Posts: 267; Member since: 18 Apr 2013)

gtfo. no, really.

you expect articles here to praise M$ like some god, wrong site buddy. go back to wp central and stay there.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 22:38 1

63. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

You can quote Limp Bizkit? That means you've listened to Limp Bizkit. Therefor your opinion means nothing to anybody with taste in music.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 23:03

65. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2236; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

They actually do post about their screw ups, although sometimes they are wrong. They posted about the loss on Motorola by Google, but they used some half-assed Forbes article to show it was a $1 billion loss, instead of being closer to $7 billion, like it actually was.

posted on 07 Jul 2014, 15:55

77. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Dont know about Google, but Apple blunders get posted just about as soon as they happen.

Antenna gate?
Worker conditions?

Cmon now...I think you are just choosing to forget. As for Google....its hard to say. Dont wanna say Google make very few mistakes...Google lawsuits are posted here n there. That includes those where Google looses.

And are you seriously trying to defend the KIN debacles?

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 18:40 2

15. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Did you get my last comment?

posted on 07 Jul 2014, 11:40 1

75. Syksyd (Posts: 58; Member since: 16 Apr 2010)

LMAO...I remember when these pieces of Crap came out, i was working for VZW at the time, they would show us videos of other employees praising this junk as the next big thing....i knew from the start they were garbage and wouls flop, i sold only 1 in six months....worst wanna be smart phone ever MS deservesthe loss it got.....

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 18:12

11. nasznjoka (Posts: 413; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)

and you gon die someday for a cause not yours! don wanna hear anything negative to microsoft your dad gotta be somebody up there!!!

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 19:39

22. billgates (banned) (Posts: 555; Member since: 29 May 2014)

Say what? That was a tough read dude.

posted on 07 Jul 2014, 14:14

76. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)

The Kin was a joke, but I would blame Verizon more on this than Microsoft. Microsoft clearly was making a feature phone that was just meant to bridge the gap between feature and smartphone, Verizon decided to just call it a smartphone though (since they required the data plan). Kin might have did okay if it didnt force the data plan or at least had a cheaper data plan than smartphones had. The world is still looking for a true transitional device, for some the change from feature to smartphone is very jarring for them.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:15

2. Emmanuelz (Posts: 214; Member since: 01 Aug 2013)

They Still exist today!

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:26 3

4. smallworld (Posts: 499; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)

Not surprising. That's what always happen when Microsoft tries to play catch-up with their competitors. The same happened with Surface, Bing, Xbox and more.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 21:02

47. cc3493 (Posts: 158; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Maybe Bing and Xbox played catch-up but not surface. Surface i would say, is not a product per-se its more a proof of concept device. I mean honestly, before they intordued the surface, most of win8 devices were either just plain tablets or laptops with touchscreens or "hybrids". After surface then you get devices like vaio tap 11 or aio windows with surface's hinge-like designs.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:27 5

5. Finalflash (Posts: 3493; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

You could kind of say that about all new MS ventures. Same goes for WP8, which hasn't recovered the money they dumped into it including the $2 billion they threw at Nokia earlier to install their trojan horse on it. The Xbox division hasn't made up the money they put into it either, last I checked the whole situation was $6 Billion in the red around 2010 and so far they haven't really announced any good news or any decent profits to make up for it. Then there is the whole Surface issue which didn't pan out too well their and doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. The only thing making money at MS is windows, office, enterprise (which is largely the former two) and Android. No need to mention Bing, lord knows what they were smoking with that one, and Music isn't really there either.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 19:49 2

26. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

MS Surface and RT were also a fail.

They were given for half price, but consumers were not interested. But the Surface3 looks promising, but MS is being to greedy and asking an arm and leg price. This SP3 will also not sell well due to pricing.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 19:53 4

28. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2072; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)

Oh look, Google Glass! What innovation. I can use it anywhere I want. I don't need a laptop or a PC for it. I mean sure, I may have to sell of my kidney for its 1500 dollar plus price point, but heck, I can do so many things with it. I'm going to throw my laptop, my tablet everything into the garbage. What great pricing by Google. I only have to sell my kidney, not my leg or arm or testicles. THANKS GOD for such an awesome company like Google!

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 20:36 2

39. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

New tech tends to cost more. The first iPhone was 600 bucks with a contract. Laptops used to cost 2,000 dollars.

Glass represents a f uckton of investment in technology in order to make it work as well as it does. Considering Google's track record, and the fact that Glass is still pretty much a beta device, the $1500 price tag isn't something they can really help. 1) they're trying to recoup some of their investment and 2) the price keeps away anyone who isn't serious about using it and helping Google improve it.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:29 6

7. Liveitup (Posts: 1798; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)

If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again. WP is the product of trying again. Great product.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:35

8. DogeShibe (Posts: 1115; Member since: 10 Jan 2014)

I somewhere read this on twitter -
''Windows Phone will succeed,because MS won't stop until it does''.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 17:39

9. Finalflash (Posts: 3493; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

Yea no, that is assuming that their rivals will just stand and watch. Google isn't standing at all while Apple has finally stopped dragging their feet (if only a little). I doubt they'll succeed copying others, until they come up with something that they actually believe in for anything other than money.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 20:17 4

34. Mozarrt (Posts: 301; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)

I like how PhoneArena reviewed it and gave it a 7.

To make an innovative successful product, you will have to experiment, and not everything will succeed. MS had the cash to learn from it's mistakes and build a much better OS from the ground up. The T-Mobile G1 wasn't the success people hoped it was, but it paved the way to become the biggest/greatest OS some fanboy's make it out to be

I like my Lumia, so MS did a good job in the end.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 20:51 1

42. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

They won't bash Facebook for that One phone, or whatever it was called... That probably did worse than the Kin did... PA is biased, and troll themselves.

posted on 06 Jul 2014, 20:31

36. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Lol, the Kins. I always forget about those. They make Windows Phone look like blockbuster success in comparison.

Not only were they stupidly overpriced, but they were shoddily built as well. I think the store chain I worked for at the time only ever sold like one or two of them.

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