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After over two years of build up, Microsoft pulled the plug on Kin in under 2 months.  (Source: Microsoft)
Train wreck of Kin continues as ex-employees let loose with criticism on the debacle

Remember when the Zune phone was a hot news topic?  Those days are long gone.  Even as Windows Mobile 6.5 plunges in marketshare and Microsoft hurries to finish its replacement in time for the holidays, it's trying to come to grips with the loss of its first mobile phone hardware project -- Kin.

summary article of the Kin debacle over at 
Mini-Microsoft, a blog site that follows Microsoft closely, had some stinging commentary, purportedly from Microsoft employees or those close to the company.

States one apparent former employee:

All I can say as a former Windows Mobile employee who is now working for a competitor in the phone space is that this is good news for the rest of us...Personally I quit because of the frustrating management and autocratic decision style of Terry Myerson and Andrew Lees. The only exec in the team myself and other folks respected was Tom Gibbons who is now sidelined. Lees and Myerson don't know consumer products or phones. Gibbons at least knows consumer product development. We often talk about how Andrew Lees still has a job but Microsoft's loss is a gain for the rest of us.

Andrew Lees is a Microsoft Senior VP in the Mobile Communications (Kin, Windows Mobile) department.  Terry Myerson is listed as a Microsoft Corporate VP of Windows Phone Engineering.

Other commenters, apparently close to Microsoft leveled similar charges.  One states:

And now Kin is killed *after* it has shipped in June 2010. You can bet Andy was involved in the development of Kin, the partnership agreements with the OEM, Verizon and most importantly the "ship it" approvals all along the way. And Microsoft discovers its a bad idea after it blows up in the broad market. Absolutely no thanks to any pro-active decision making on Andy's part... Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn't help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

Another person who identifies themselves as a former Danger employee (see below for the Kin-Danger connection) remarks:

[Microsoft is a] dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.

It would be very easy to blow off such criticisms as sour grapes of ex-employees or even people posing as employees with no real knowledge of the company.  However, the fact is there does appear to be something badly wrong at Microsoft's phone division, and that lends the complaints a bit more plausibility.

The strange journey of Kin began with the purchase of Danger, makers of the Sidekick, in Feb. 2008.  Microsoft reportedly paid $500M USD for the company that in its best year made $54M USD in revenue, but overall had lost $188M USD.  Despite those questionable metrics, at the time the move was viewed as perhaps wise -- it gave Microsoft a hardware team with which to directly attack Apple's iPhone.

Two years later the child of that union, Kin, stumbled out onto the scene on the Verizon network.  The Kin One was priced at $49.99 and the Ken Two sold for $99.99.  Both phones were marketed with a curious campaign of a jilted lover apparently stalking his ex-girlfriend.  Take it from Apple or Palm -- good -- or bad -- commercials can make or break a campaign (granted the blame here only partially rests on Microsoft for approving the commercial, and certainly equally is the fault of the ad firm).  But perhaps more damaging than the bizarre ads was the fact that the phones were utterly unremarkable, serving only as a mediocre Facebook-enabled smartphone.

Within 45 days Microsoft decided it had seen enough, unceremoniously pulling the plug on the project at the end of June.  While the phones will continue to be sold on Verizon for the few that are interested, the message from Microsoft was clear -- it was putting Kin down faster than you can say 
Old Yeller.

So whether the complaints are true or not, Microsoft must make some serious changes to its phone business -- and make them 
now, if it hopes to survive fast competitors like Google, Apple, and HP (rebranded Palm).

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That is true for most big corporations
By sviola on 7/8/2010 3:18:14 PM , Rating: 5
[Microsoft is a] dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.

This is not a Microsoft only issue. This happens in all large corporations (and I worked in 2 of the largest IT corporations in the world, so I speak from real life experience).

Politics take a huge part in corporate decisions and usually they overcome common sense and technical directions (I more than once saw managers promise to deliver something that engineers told him was not feasible, either in scope, budget or timeframe, just so they could look better to executives and get promotions - so when the project was not delivered, they blamed the team and someone would end taking all the blame).

By Spivonious on 7/8/2010 3:45:30 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. Dilbert is funny because it's true.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By quiksilvr on 7/8/2010 3:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
But the weird thing about it was that it didn't make any sense. They announced Windows 7 Mobile, why didn't they push for a Zune Phone, an established device with solid foundation and an epic touch screen that rivals the iPhone?

To me, launching something like that in June to compete with Apple would have been a smart move. They wouldn't be able to beat Apple, but would have made a huge dent (not to mention the antenna issue would have made many flock to the other side if marketed correctly).

Here's hoping they get their stuff together for this holiday season. Just a few words of advice:
1) Get copy&paste and multitasking locked down at launch. People notice these things and will jump at it in a second.
2) Get a ton of apps at launch, especially the big video and social networks (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
3) Get a ton of games at launch and have seamless integration with your 360. Imagine having a remote play feature similar to what PSP has with PS3. Imagine popping in Mass Effect 2 to your Xbox at home and playing that on your ZunePhone :O

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By AnnihilatorX on 7/8/2010 4:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
Ars Technica has a good opinion on why KIN was a failure

By nafhan on 7/8/2010 4:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
In short:
1. Late to market
2. Phone was too pricey
3. The service was way too pricey

Late to market could have been overcome, but without a pricing deal with Verizon, it really never should have been released. The Kin was a feature phone for the price of a real smart phone.

By mckinney on 7/9/2010 4:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
More than 500, certainly, but below 10,000

I think ARS is close. It was estimated elsewhere that Kin sales were about 8800 based on Kin Facebook pages which icluded demo and trial units.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Flunk on 7/8/2010 5:00:17 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, Windows Phone 7 IS a Zune phone. The OS is based on Zune OS and not Windows Mobile. Because of this all the apps need to be rewritten. But hey, it gives programmers like me more work to do!

By sprockkets on 7/8/2010 7:05:49 PM , Rating: 3
Both are based on Windows CE, so they at some point are really the same. You don't really think Microsoft developed an entirely new OS from the ground up, did ya?

Sure the UI is different.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Pirks on 7/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: That is true for most big corporations
By nafhan on 7/8/2010 4:29:17 PM , Rating: 3
Completely untrue. Read up on Apple history pre 2000 before Stevie came back.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Pirks on 7/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: That is true for most big corporations
By snikt on 7/8/2010 5:36:25 PM , Rating: 3
Probably because he wasn't the one that brought up Steve Jobs' to begin with.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Pirks on 7/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: That is true for most big corporations
By snikt on 7/8/2010 5:51:52 PM , Rating: 4
Not everybody spends all day on the Net.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Pirks on 7/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: That is true for most big corporations
By reader1 on 7/8/2010 8:04:24 PM , Rating: 4
I'd kill you for a Klondike bar.

By MGSsancho on 7/8/2010 9:31:44 PM , Rating: 3
lol you two are hated here more than AOL Internet Floppies Disc

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2010 12:28:25 AM , Rating: 4
Shit I don't need a Klondike bar for either of you.

By Motoman on 7/11/2010 1:03:08 PM , Rating: 2
Just give me a call FIT...I'll be right over with a large blunt object.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By StevoLincolnite on 7/9/10, Rating: -1
By StevoLincolnite on 7/9/2010 5:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
Sheesh, seems no one knows how to take a Joke or understand sarcasm. (I was saying the kind of thing that Pirks would say, but with a Microsoft spin on it.)

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/10, Rating: 0
By nafhan on 7/8/2010 4:42:21 PM , Rating: 5
Well, you have to realize that this guy is talking about his experience with the mobile division, only. If you look at it from that perspective, dysfunctional really isn't that bad of a way to put it. The desktop software division is fine. The console gaming group is doing great. The mobile division, though, doesn't even have a shipping, actively in development product right now.
I'm sure he's also a little frustrated, as he worked for a cutting edge company that MS bought and basically drove into the ground.
None of this says anything about where they will be in six months or a year. WinPho7 (or whatever they call it) may be an excellent product. MS has lots of money to throw at the problem, and they know they need to succeed.

RE: That is true for most big corporations
By Taft12 on 7/8/2010 6:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
I must say the level of MS-fellatio in your post is at heights never seen on this site (and it's usually pretty high)

I don't know what further evidence you need than the departure of top executives Robbie Bach and J Allard to point to a pretty dysfunctional situation at their mobile division

By damonlynch on 7/9/2010 11:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, this is person is special - he or she doesn't need coherent evidence to form theories. For instance he/she claims to know more about the science of climate change than NASA.

By wardww on 7/9/2010 7:45:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, I was an engineer for WANG for 10 years in the 80s, and Dr Wang's biggest mistake was to NOT make a XT compatible PC, but to make our own DOS box that ran PC-DOS rather than MS-DOS, and by the time he had realized his error, it was all over red rover. Remember this was a time where products typically took 3 years from conception to production. Organizations reach a point where their size does nothing but hinder the decision making process.

Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/2010 4:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
When I read articles like this, I'm astounded. You know, people have been hoping for and predicting the collapse of Microsoft for 20+ years now. But the fact remains is that they are the worlds largest software company, and mobile devices are SIDE PROJECTS. Microsoft doesn't need Kin phones to make it big. They didn't even need the XBox. Hell I remember when the first Xbox was being developed, everyone laughed at them and proclaimed it and Xbox Live would be a failure. Look at them now!

Microsoft just does not need mobile devices to succeed. They can afford to be hit or miss. Get a clue people.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By LifeByTheHorns on 7/8/2010 5:16:11 PM , Rating: 5
Mobile devices are the future. Even Microsoft insiders will tell you that they will be more important than PCs in the future. Microsoft is in danger of falling hopelessly behind.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By Solandri on 7/8/2010 10:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
We don't know what the future of PC's are, so you can't really say mobile devices "are" the future.

Besides it could be that, in the future, most mobile devices eventually use some Windows OS, or some Microsoft patent, and again they profit.

It's been pretty clear for some time now that smartphones and PCs are on a collision course. At a given price point, PCs (especially laptops) are getting so powerful they're vastly overpowered for most people's needs. So netbooks came out and successfully stole a good portion of the low-end laptop market. Now, phones are getting powerful enough to replace what a lot of people used netbooks for (instant messaging, email, quickly checking social web sites like Facebook). As long as Moore's law holds, it's going to get worse for PCs.

If you ask me, the "take it everywhere you go"-ness of a phone is what's going to let them prevail. Just like the paper office chained you to a desk, the PC chains you to a single computer. Anyone who's had to transfer all their apps and data to a new PC they just purchased knows how much pain this entails. The future is your data living on the net/cloud, accessed by whatever computer is handy, which will probably be a phone. The OS is going to become irrelevant.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By JediJeb on 7/9/2010 1:10:45 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I will become a hermit then, because all I want my phone to do is make phone calls.

As for everything going from PC to the phone/mobile device, if that is so, then why are PC monitors getting larger instead of smaller all the time? I would hate to have to do any of the work I do on a screen as small as that on a phone.

By bldckstark on 7/9/2010 4:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
Who's to say that the future phone won't display it's wares on a desktop monitor. You carry your phone everywhere with you, but then when you need a larger screen for real work, you just click a couple of buttons and go to town on the closest monitor.

Also, it may be that phones come with (useful) projectors in the future so you don't even need a monitor.

I'm waiting for the day that you just pop the OS chip into your skull and have at it.

Future conversation: Ewww, I would never date him. He's a sucky Chrome v1,000,000 beta user!

By Paj on 7/13/2010 8:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Since getting my HTC, my usage of the lappy has dropped dramtically.

I only use it for gaming and work now - net usage is pretty much exclusively done on my phone.

By kfonda on 7/8/2010 7:10:53 PM , Rating: 3
Damn, I thought flying cars and jet packs were the future. I wish they would stop changing the future.

By adiposity on 7/8/2010 5:27:29 PM , Rating: 4
I agree completely. However, it is still interesting when a project completely tanks--we can learn from the mistakes made.

From the accounts I've heard, if Microsoft hadn't insisted on replacing the Danger OS with a Windows CE core, the Kin would have shipped 18 months ago...and back then, it would have actually had a chance.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By mellomonk on 7/8/2010 5:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
No at this point MS doesn't need mobile, they are still raking in the $ on the cash cows of Windows & Office. But the future is beginning to appear from the mists. Operating Systems are becoming more and more irrelevant as development moves to the web and web technologies. The current Office business model is probably going to be up-ended by the said web and cloud tech. Mobile is hot, and that is where the developers are going, or soon will be. And as Balmer says; developers, developers, developers.

It is far to early to count them out, but the world is increasingly moving on from MS. They may face a future where they are still comfortably profitable in their niche, but largely unimportant or influencing to the average user. See IBM.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/2010 5:57:06 PM , Rating: 3
Operating Systems are becoming more and more irrelevant as development moves to the web and web technologies.


Can you clarify this please? Because I don't know what kind of web app or technology that doesn't need to run ontop of some kind of OS, no matter how transparent it might appear.

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By Taft12 on 7/8/2010 6:46:00 PM , Rating: 4
What's to boggle about? Of course a browser needs to run on top of an OS. The point is that OS independence is bad for MS given cheaper acceptable alternatives, and especially bad since OS is one of only 2 MS cash cows (the other is Office).

RE: Microsoft Doesn't Need Mobile Devices
By bodar on 7/8/2010 11:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
Right. As apps migrate more and more to the cloud, the idea of "this program runs on Windows/Mac/Linux" becomes less and less important. That's the whole point of Chrome OS. It will not fully replace Windows, but it can take a chunk out of its market share, which is still bad for MS.

By JediJeb on 7/9/2010 1:17:16 PM , Rating: 4
Correct, if you can just as easily run your apps on a free version of Linux instead or a $100+ version of Windows, where do you think most companies are going to turn? If the browser is the base of the app, then as long at it runs well on any OS, the OS becomes irrelevant and people are going to use whatever is cheapest.

Job Cuts
By Mitch101 on 7/8/2010 3:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
Supposedly Microsoft is cutting 5,000 jobs I wonder what portion or how many people were working on this and if its related?

RE: Job Cuts
By Taft12 on 7/8/2010 6:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the Minimsft blog posts seem to point to reductions in the Marketing divisions.

By dani31 on 7/8/2010 3:37:43 PM , Rating: 3
fast competitors like Google, Apple, and HP (rebranded Palm)

Google for sure, Apple maybe, but wasn't Palm painfully slow with the hardware development eversince Pre was announced?

And didn't I read somewhere that HP isn't likely to do phones but make use Palm's IP portfolio (and WebOs printers) ?

By Da W on 7/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ballmer
By Taft12 on 7/8/2010 6:48:12 PM , Rating: 2
The stock price has been stagnant for a decade and that is the standard by which CEOs are judged. I don't know how the BOD lets this guy keep his job.

wait a minute...
By inperfectdarkness on 7/8/2010 8:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
wasn't i criticized on here for saying that there was really no need for a cell phone like the strive or kin?


Weak Article
By RGrizzzz on 7/8/2010 8:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
Writing an article based on comments by "apparent" employees is pretty weak. Can't you guys get some real sources?

By monkeyman1140 on 7/12/2010 10:19:31 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft gambled on the unemployed hipster market and lost. Their website showed a bunch of 20-somethings looking cool, acting cool and doing cool things like stealing pizza, getting drunk and passing out on the couch, and taking pictures of their breasts at underground raves in abandoned warehouses.

Earth to Microsoft! The people who buy these things are teenagers and geeks! If they were that cool and had that many friends they wouldn't even need a KIN!

And what about those creepy commercials where a girl goes across the country to visit the people on her friends list unannounced. Talk about awkward and kinda creepy.

Microsoft is desperate to be cool, they should just give up and accept they're not cool and never will be. Cool only sells stuff for Apple. People who buy Microsoft are uncool and proud.

By Drag0nFire on 7/8/2010 7:53:41 PM , Rating: 1
Remember when the Zune phone was a hot news topic?

Uhhh... no?

Zune III: The Search for Schlock
By morphologia on 7/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: Zune III: The Search for Schlock
By MozeeToby on 7/8/2010 3:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
If they do that they may as well just throw in the towel. Cheap, low cost portable devices are becoming more and more mainstream as time goes on. What happens when your cell phone has enough computing power to run all the applications that 99% of users need (I'd say the number is already > 50%)

RE: Zune III: The Search for Schlock
By kmmatney on 7/8/2010 6:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
MS can still make software for these devices - MS Office for iOS and Android, etc...

By JediJeb on 7/9/2010 1:22:26 PM , Rating: 2
Who would want to try to do word processing or spreadsheets on a phone? I would go blind trying to do something like that. Not to mention my fingers killing me trying to type on something that small.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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