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All posts tagged "kin"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Back From the Dead, It's Microsoft's Kin! Sort Of...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 01:03 PM

"Microsoft's ill-fated Kin One and Kin Two are returning to Verizon, a leaked fall roadmap revealed tonight. Despite having sold just 8,810 phones, the phone designer is bringing the two devices back as the OneM and TwoM. PPCGeeks' copy of the roadmap would have both sold as basic feature phones and consequently dodging the $30 smartphone plan requirement widely credited for killing the popularity of the devices in their brief six-week initial run."

It's hard to say who's driving this - seems like Verizon - but it's interesting to note that in this re-incarnation, the phone will be usable without a data plan; and a $15/150 GB plan would be a much cheaper option if someone did need data. What about all that rich, back-end/cloud functionality? I hope we see the Kin Studio get resurrected as a Windows Phone 7 cloud service ASAP...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

KIN Total Cost Nears One Billion Dollars

Posted by Ed Hansberry in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 02:00 PM

So just how much did the whole Danger acquistion and KIN project cost Microsoft? It looks like the total cost is approaching $1,000,000,000. Ouch. Engadged discovered there was a $240 million writeoff in Microsoft's June 30, 2010 financial statements and notes that it paid $500 million for Danger. What is not included in any of these numbers are:

  • Routine operation expenses Microsoft incurred for the unit since the Danger acquistion.
  • Hardware upgrades and purchases for the Sidekick infrastructure
  • Revenues from the Sidekick business (that would offset any costs)
  • Expenses, penalties and fees incurred when the Danger servers went belly up and ate all of the Sidekick data and Microsoft had to go in and fix it
  • Marketing costs for the KIN

All told, I suspect the venture wound up costing Microsoft over a billion dollars above any revenue it got from the Sidekick business. A billion dollars is a lot of money, but in the world of acquisitions, I suspect more money was blown when HP acquired Compaq or AOL acquired Time Warner.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sharp is a Victim of KIN's Death As Well

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 12:00 AM

"One of the biggest loosers in the Kin debacle that hasn't been talked about is Sharp. OEM for the Kin, and the biggest cellphone brand in Japan....but not in the states of course. Kin was supposed to be their entry point into the US market for mobile. Sharp ponied up half the ad $ for the Kin launch...basically subsidised it with the thought it would be good for their brand and they would sell a lot of phones and be a trojan horse for other Sharp Mobile efforts in the US. Big fail. Not only did they have to tool up factories custom design hardware and sub the marketing they only sold a few thousand phones at best. Sharp's taking a huge bath on this one. And because Sharp's mobile group is in Nara Japan and had no people on the ground in WA or Palo Alto...they had little leverage or insight into the US market and got taken for a ride. I'm sure there are a lot of unhappy execs in Osaka right now cause of this..."

I've spent more than a few minutes reading 100+ comments on this Mini Microsoft post that we already linked to, and boy, it's quite the read. If you if you throw out half of what's there, the rest that's left is staggering. The comment I quoted above was quite interesting in that no one has mentioned Sharp in all this mess - and as you can tell from the comment, Sharp has indeed lost big. They bet on Microsoft, and Microsoft burned them - badly. Is that really something Microsoft can afford to do that given their weak position in the mobile market?

Tags: microsoft, sharp, kin

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mini-Microsoft Weighs in on the Death of KIN

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Windows Phones" @ 02:05 PM

"Get out of the way Microsoft Bob, you have a replacement that Microsoft's Gen-Y employees can claim for their own! It's spelled K-I-N. KIN's demise can't surprise anyone. When I looked at the phone's features, I thought: alright, an incomplete Facebook experience that I cannot improve by installing new applications... and I pay $$ through the nose for a plan. But I've got a green dot and KIN Studio... maybe that will be enough to sell enough units to justify the Danger acquisition and the person-years of work behind getting KIN out. What the hell where all those people doing? I couldn't imagine anyone wanting the resulting iffy feature-phone at a smartphone cost, but KIN wasn't made for me. I was willing to let the market be the judge of KIN. Verdict? Guilty, guilty, guilty."

The Mini Microsoft blog is a treasure-trove of fascinating insider information about the company; having worked with (and for) Microsoft for years, I can see a fair amount of truth in the things written there. With KIN, sadly, Mini Microsoft seems right on the money. The comment replies to the post are also eye-opening...if even half of what's written is true, KIN was in trouble long before launch and should never have seen the light of day. Another good read on the subject is found over at Business Insider; it speaks to the sense of embarrassment felt by many at Microsoft Campus over the high-profile failure that KIN became. One thing is for sure: business schools will be studying the KIN debacle for years to come.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Microsoft Kin and Windows Phone 7

Posted by Nurhisham Hussein in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 06:00 PM

"Microsoft's elimination of its Kin phones indicate that the company is continuing to sweep aside what it sees as unnecessary consumer projects in favor of focusing on Windows Phone 7, its upcoming mobile platform designed to compete with the Apple iPhone 4 and Google Android smartphones."

The author paints a picture of a Microsoft that's laagering up and focusing on Windows Phone 7 to rescue its mobile presence. I'm not sure if this characterisation/interpretation of Microsoft actions are correct, what with Windows embedded muddying the waters, but the article presents a decent overview of the Kin's demise and what it means for Windows Phone 7.

Lots of Talking About (Your?) Kin

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Windows Phone Software" @ 11:00 AM

"With its Kin line of phones killed, Microsoft has announced that the people who worked on those devices will join the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating Kin concepts and technology into Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS. Despite up-and-down reviews, Kin did have some redeeming qualities. Even though feature creep is a dangerous thing, here are four things that should make the leap from Kin to Windows Phone 7."

Well, it seems it takes the action of killing a product in order to stimulate some conversation about it. I've read more about the Microsoft Kin product in the last two days than the entire time during its planning and eventual release. Jared Newman of PC World has written an article that describes four of the features he'd like to see salvaged from the Kin product and moved over onto the Windows Phone 7 platform. One of those features he mentions is Kin Studio, and I have to say I agree wholeheartedly. Kin Studio is a very interesting application that really showcases the potential of cloud computing, with its syncing of photos and videos and other features. I hope we see this happen because I'd personally like to give this a try, and I would never have done so on the Kin.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Inside Story on The Demise of KIN

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Windows Phones" @ 02:17 PM

"To get anywhere, a project inside Microsoft needs an executive sponsor, and for Pink, Allard had been that guy from day one. It was his baby. Of course, Allard was a visionary, an idea man; Lees -- like most Microsoft execs -- is a no-nonsense numbers guy, and to put it bluntly, he didn't like that Pink existed. To quote our sources, Lees was "jealous," and he was likely concerned that Kin was pulling mindshare (and presumably resources) from Windows Mobile's roadmap. With enough pressure, Lees ended up getting his way; Pink fell under his charge and Allard was forced into the background."

A fascinating story that certainly explains much of what we saw when KIN came to market - all of the complaining we did about the high data plan prices? The KIN team knew that it would severely hamper their product; so did Verizon. It's a classic case of internal politics and corporate "silos". Definitely worth a read. Oh KIN, we hardly knew ye...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Microsoft Puts a Bullet in Kin's Head

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 02:33 PM

"Just six weeks after launch, Microsoft's Kin, the social phone we wanted to love, is dead. Microsoft is pulling the plug, sources close to Microsoft tell us. There won't be a separate Kin product anymore. Effective immediately, Andy Lees is shoving the entire Kin team into the core Windows Phone 7 team, so there will just be one big group to focus on Windows Phone 7."

And there you have it. After only a few months Kin, launched with much fanfare, has been terminated by Microsoft. You can look at this one of two ways: Read more...

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Kin Update Commeth - What Needs Fixing?

Posted by Jon Westfall in "Windows Phone News" @ 11:00 AM

We've got a pretty good source (via Microsoft Answers) that a Kin update is coming sometime later this summer. Besides what the poster has issues with, what does Microsoft need to fix? Kin users and review readers weigh in - what should Kin 1.1 (or whatever the update is called) include or change?

Tags: hardware, update, kin

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kin Studio: This Had Better Be a Part of Windows Phone 7 Eventually

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 11:00 AM

If you haven't seen the Kin Studio in detail before, check out the video above - it will give you an overview of what the Kin Studio is, and what it does. When I saw the Kin Studio for the first time in November of 2009, it was easily the most exciting thing about the Kin to me, because it represented something completely unique in the market. Apple is particularly awful at the Web and Web services, and Kin Studio represented a move by Microsoft to leverage what they do best: software design and online services. The Kin Studio is a great partner to the Kin phones, and I dearly hope that Microsoft is working hard to leverage Kin Studio into the future Windows Phone 7 ecosystem.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WM Experts In-Depth KIN Review

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Windows Phones" @ 09:00 AM

"In looking at the Microsoft KIN, we've taken a look at the design of the KIN and the KIN's software. In this last part of the review, we pull everything together and look at the KIN's performance. As was mentioned at the start, while the KIN is a Windows Phone I don't think it was ever intended to take the place of a Windows Phone running Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7. However, after using the KIN for some time now, it is a good alternative for someone wanting more than your standard feature phone but less than a Windows Phone running Windows Mobile."

WM Experts has been spending some serious time with the Kin lately - first they looked at the design, then they looked at the software, and in this third part, they're looking at the performance, camera, and other aspects of the product. What I find quite fascinating about KIN reviews is that, generally, the geeky reviewers who look at phones all the time aren't very impressed with KIN...but younger people using feature phones all seem to think it's a pretty cool system. And the younger, feature-phone using market is exactly whom Microsoft was targeting. I really like Matt Miller's work in this article, and in this one, where he involves his teenager daughters in testing the products. I still maintain that Microsoft and Verizon really screwed up with the pricing of the data plans, but from a product perspective, Microsoft's KIN team seems to have really nailed it for the target demographic they're going after.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Look at the Speaker-Amplifying Kin Battery Cover

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Windows Phones" @ 01:18 PM

"Back in the day i was really into car audio and one of the things i was fascinated with was the designing and building of speaker boxes. The basic reason a speaker needs a box is to combat the cancellation of the in and out of phase sound waves. When a speaker makes a sound the cone moves forward, but the cone must move back to its original position it also makes a sound firing in the opposite direction. These two sound waves are opposites or what is referred to as our of phase. So what the speaker box aims to do is to negate these backward cone movements with a sealed and angled charmers."

It's pretty slick how the Kin was designed to amplify the power of the on-board speakers...clever design is great to see in any product!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Kin by a Windows Phone Thoughts Community Member

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 06:00 AM

"The Kin appealed to me the moment it was announced. I am not in the target market for the device but I was still intrigued by it. My mobile phone history is varied. I have owned Symbian and Blackberry devices as well as at least one model of Windows phone from each of the various names it has gone through. At present I have an HTC Touch Diamond 2 for my work phone. I also have a simple Samsung SGH a777 that I use for strictly personal needs. I am very interested in the upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices, and like many others, think the Dell Lightning looks promising."

randallewis, one of our very own Windows Phone Thoughts community members, has posted a great write up in our forums about the Kin that he bought. It's well worth the read to understand what the Kin offers, and how it's positioned against current smartphones.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zune HD vs. Kin Two: A Comparison

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 04:08 PM

Adam Lien from pocketnow has put together an interesting video that will interest anyone in the Zune or Windows Phone camp; how exactly does the Kin - which is a precursor to the Zune experience on Windows Phone 7. All in all, there aren't that many big differences between the two - but it's interesting to see the way the Zune experience evolves when you have an always-connected device.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Microsoft and Verizon Defend Kin Plan Pricing

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 02:12 PM

"Microsoft's new Kin phones are not truly smartphones, but Verizon Wireless is charging users a minimum monthly $70 service fee anyway -- $30 alone for data -- over a two-year contract. Microsoft and Verizon representatives defended the fee on Tuesday, partly because of the Kins' automatic cloud-based backup of video, pictures and other data."

I've been critical of the reality distortion field that accompanies Steve Jobs every time he presents, so I can't be any less critical when I see Microsoft and Verizon doing the same thing. Both Microsoft and Verizon are standing arm in arm and together defending the pricing plan they've come up with for Kin. Ultimately, technology pundits such as myself saying the pricing plans are too expensive only count for so much - which isn't much - and what really mattes is what the market says.

In a few months we'll be able to see how popular the Kin is - or isn't - and make some conclusions from that. I maintain that the sweet spot would have been somewhere in the $40 to $50 pricing plans for both voice and data, and even lower if it's part of a family plan, not the $70+ realm that Verizon has chosen. Price matters - it always has, and it always will. Time and time again, consumers will accept "good enough" technologies if they intersect with a price point that makes sense; netbooks are a good example of this principal in action. The technologies in Kin are interesting, but not unique, and only someone who doesn't know any better is going to pay $70 per month for a Kin voice and data plan. Microsoft blew a prime opportunity to capture an important slice of the market...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Microsoft's Kin: Dead On Arrival (in North America at Least)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 12:00 PM

"Quite frankly, I haven't been this disappointed in a phone in a long time. The list of complaints and missteps far outweighs the positives this time around. The basic concept of a phone focused on social networking is not new, and has been done better by others (Motorola, Palm, HTC). The Kin Loop and Kin Spot are neat concepts, no doubt, but the execution falls far, far short of what others have been able to accomplish." - Eric M. Zeman, phonescoop

"The execution (or lack thereof) on these products makes us legitimately concerned about what the company will do with Windows Phone 7. We can only hope that the similarities between those devices and the Kin handsets don't stretch much further than the "Windows Phone" label, because in our estimation, Kin is one side of the family that needs to be disowned... quickly." - Joshua Topolsky, Engadget

I had the opportunity to hear from the Kin team (back then they were the Pink team) back in November at the Mobius 2009 event - in fact, that's one of the reasons I titled my post "Fascinating, But Little That Can Be Shared". We spent several hours with the Kin team, really diving into what they were doing, but couldn't say anything about it. I knew that the Kin wasn't for me - it lacked too many features I'd want, but I knew exactly who the Kin was for: someone like my younger sister. She's 25 years old (I'm 35), uses a Motorola KRZR and a paper dayplanner, works for a non-profit agency, and is cost-conscious. She's careful about what she spends money on and is heavily into Facebook and texting (like most people her age). A phone like the Kin - a phone focused on social networking and sharing with friends, is exactly the kind of thing she'd love.

"Real" smartphones - of any brand - are still too costly for many people. Data plans in North America are still quite expensive - I was overjoyed when my GSM carrier (Rogers) gave me the opportunity to grab a 6 GB data plan for $30/month - so I knew that the key to the Kin being adopted by the target market its aimed at would be the pricing. Microsoft went for an exclusive carrier partnership - we knew that at Mobius - so I thought "OK, they've obviously gone exclusive to ensure a killer voice + data plan". The reality? The pricing plan from Verizon has killed the Kin. Read more...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Microsoft's Project Pink is now Kin

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 10:23 AM

I'm in the midst of watching the stream of the live keynote on this event, so will report back later, but wanted to share this news as soon as possible. This isn't a Windows phone - it's a highly-focused feature phone that's targeted at a certain group of users. It integrates the full Zune client as well...more to come! The Kin Web site is also live.

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