Print 55 comment(s) - last by Paj.. on Jul 13 at 8:23 AM

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).

Comments     Threshold

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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.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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