Verizon reportedly plans to bring back Microsoft's Kin One and Kin Two social-networking phones, which died an ignoble death earlier in 2010.
Halloween might be over, but at least one thing looks like it's coming back
from the dead: Microsoft's much-derided Kin phones, which met an ignoble demise
earlier this year after several weeks of poor sales. If reports prove accurate,
Verizon plans to sell the Kin One and Kin Two as stripped-down "feature
phones," possibly to clear any excessive stocks.
Microsoft originally hoped the Kin One and Kin Two would become "must-have"
devices for teenagers and young adults obsessed with social networking. The
phones offered a constant stream of updates, and allowed users to seamlessly
upload photos and data to the cloud.
Unfortunately, the phones failed to sell. "Microsoft has made the decision
to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and will not ship Kin in Europe
this fall as planned," read a June 30 statement from the company.
"Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team,
incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows
But Verizon may be determined to clear out its remaining stock of Kin
devices-at least according to the carrier's purported fourth-quarter 2010
, supposedly leaked to the
blog PPCGeeks by "a friend from Verizon."
The Kin reappearance was then confirmed by other blogs, including
. Kin v2.0 will apparently lack certain data-heavy features such as
Loop, which fed those constant social-networking
"Enhanced feature phones with impressive hardware not found on other feature
phones," reads Verizon's roadmap document. "Each device has a touch-screen and
a full QWERTY keyboard, along with a high-end camera and plenty of internal
memory to store photos and videos."
Microsoft originally backed the Kin with a massive marketing push, but kept
silent on the number of devices sold during the initial run. Sites such as
Pocketnow.com have pointed
out that there were only 8,810 "monthly active users" of the Kin Facebook
, which can only be used by an actual Kin phone.
Pundits generally laid blame for the Kin initiative's demise on Verizon's
monthly data plans-too high-cost for teenagers-and failure to define the
phones' value proposition over competing devices.
According to one analyst, Kin's problems began with Microsoft's 2008
acquisition of Danger Inc., which created the Sidekick mobile platform. Soon
afterward, rumors spread that Microsoft and Danger teams were collaborating on
"Project Pink," a pair of branded social-collaboration phones. But the need to
integrate Danger's assets with Microsoft's platform delayed and eventually
doomed the whole endeavor.
"The Kin was a mistake from Day One," Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the
Enderle Group, wrote in an email to eWEEK following the Kin's original death.
"The extra time they took to convert the Kin from the Sidekick platform to Windows
CE made it about a year-and-a-half late to market, and the merger likely added
another year-and-a-half. That's 1.5 to 3 years late depending on when you start
A shakeup within Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, which saw
the departures of two top executives, may have further doomed the Kin as it
prepared for the initial launch.
But now, like the chainsaw-bearing creature in a horror film, the Kin has
managed to crawl back from its grave. It could be a case of Verizon trying to
clear out excess stock, or trying to leverage consumer interest in Microsoft
devices following the launch of Windows Phone 7. Speaking of which, Microsoft
doubtlessly hopes its new phone platform sells better than the last one.