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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.

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