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Microsoft Cellphones

The Return of the Microsoft Kin 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-really-really-don't-succeed dept.
symbolset writes "In a surprising turn of events, Engadget is reporting that the Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two will have an encore in the market. Some years ago Microsoft purchased Danger, Inc, services provider for the legendary Sidekick line of phones, and set upon refreshing them for a new generation in 'Project Pink.' Several project restarts and one data loss incident later, the project had lost favor internally and relations with the launch carrier Verizon had gone sour. The product was launched anyway to dismal sales and yanked from the market in under two months. According to the article, the costly data plan was thought to be to blame for the poor sales, so cellular data services and features that require them have been removed."
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The Return of the Microsoft Kin

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:43PM (#34209298)

    As nobody cares...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:02PM (#34209518)

      No no no! I am so tired of you peanut gallery punks talking smack about the Kin phones.

      You Microsoft haters are all the same. I've said it before, if you aren't the target market for the Kin, then you can't help but not to "get it". The Kin phones are for the always connected consumer to stay in the loop with all of their friends both online and off. It is an always on stream of social information for people that don't want to live their actual lives not live on their phones. Just face it, if you're too old to grok what that means for you, then just move on instead of criticizing something you are not equipped to ever understand.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MrEricSir (398214)

        Wow, that sounds so hip, edgy, and refreshingly real!

      • by Locutus (9039)
        So you're saying the Kin was/is for those who want always on connectivity and spend lots of time in/on social networking apps and texting? They you must mean it's for those people Microsoft is currently making fun of in their Windows Phone 7 ads.

        Will they start doing ads dis-ing those who get on and off their phones quickly in the Kin v2 ads?

        I can't wait to Tivo through those ads also.

        LoB
      • Actually, I just "don't get" how they could do it so badly. It's a great commercial idea, it should have sold to Facebook addicts in the hundreds of millions at least.
  • Keeping the "Kin" name would kill this before it even starts. It carries such a strong negative connotation with it that they would be likely to sell any units...perception is everything when it comes to the mobile space.

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:50PM (#34209378) Homepage
      With who, techies? With the general public, I'd bet 95%+ have never heard of the thing and thus have no opinion in either direction.
      • With the general public yes, even though they've never heard of the phone. It might be popular with hillbillies I guess. "Yall" would be a better name.

      • by pavon (30274)

        Agreed. What surprised me was the fact that they ditched the Sidekick branding to begin with. Even after the data loss incident, that phone has massive positive name recognition, so I can't see why they on earth they would stop using it. Then again everything about how they handled the Danger acquisition has been incompetent.

    • Considering the "Zune 2", it's not likely they'll bother rebranding it and distance themselves from the previous failure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Actually, there was no reason to rename the Zune. It was only a failure in the commercial sense. The hardware and concept were actually quite good. While I only know two people who own them, both were quite pleased and from what I could see of it the device worked well.

        With the Kin, I think the biggest problem was that they were aiming it at a market which doesn't exist and they gave up before it did. The way that Apple came to be so closely linked to portable music is that they waited until the market f
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)
      They will release it as the "Kin ect" (with "ect" being an acronym for "Enhanced Cellular Technology") and add some functionality that allows you to sync it with your Xbox.

      Then they'll count Kin sales for both the mobile and console peripheral markets.
    • Yep, a rename is in order since they have only sold a few Kin phones.

      Wait, that's it! The "Few-Kin Phone".

      On one hand It's self deprecating, and on the other it's the phone for people with little to no family ties.

  • Really?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:45PM (#34209318)

    I can't possibly understand this. Anyone with half a brain who picked up a Kin phone could see that the things were atrocious. It was like some 70 year old engineer decided he was going to make a phone that was all hip and "did all that music stuff the young kids like". Totally out of touch with the market and any sane school of thought regarding a UI.

    Oh well though. If Microsoft feeling like flushing EVEN MORE money down the drain, then who am I to stop them.

    • by bberens (965711)
      I think I work with the engineer you mentioned. Just last month he was telling me about the joys of writing his own socket code and XML parsing code to talk to that new-fangled web service thing over there. It was silly that it used such a verbose messaging protocol but whatever.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MBGMorden (803437)

        Until I while back, I had a similiar experience with an older coworker (he's retired now).

        Nicest guy in the world, and he was bright, but just from a different time.

        He lived by printouts. I ask him for the source code for an old COBOL program to recode. Do I get it in a nice text file? Nope. Printout sitting on my desk.

        Found a problem with a specific account that wasn't behaving properly. Do I get an email about it? Nope. Hand-written note left sitting in my chair.

        I ask for a simple report. Is it in

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by geekoid (135745)

          If he is like many of the old Cobol people I work with, he was screwing with you.

          SOme of themare the most tech savey people, and the intentional screw with people in this manner.

          I worked ehre two weeks, and in a dev. meeting one I asked for some source code, and they pulled out a huge ream of paper.

          and I said: "Don't pull that crap with me, I know you can easily get it digitally. I'm not some noob."

          They all laughed, and 2 minutes after the meeting I had a link to the source codes location.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            Nah. You'd have to really know this guy to understand him. Worked with him for 5 years. He was good at what he did - just absent minded and old fashioned. I often WOULD ask him to get it digitally and then he would do so, but it was a matter of reminding him much of the time. "Digital copy" just didn't flip into his brain when somebody asked for something. It was more a case of "Ok, I'll print you a copy" being the first thing that jumped into his head.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lmcgeoch (1298209)

      What I would like to see is a smart phone made for a baby boomer?
      I don't mean a jitterbug but an actual phone with a keyboard big enough so they can see and use them so they can text their friends and go on the internet.
      Not all older people are non tech savy (my parents for instance, it easier to text them then to call them.) and they have more money to spend on gadgets then a 15 year old. Why doesn't the 70 year old engineer make something he would like to use and go from there?

      This is a completely untapp

  • Competition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:47PM (#34209352)

    Amazing how Microsoft can release multiple devices that partly compete against each other... you could see someone considering a WP7 phone for the social aspects, then saying "well the Kin is cheaper, and I can do some social things on it so good enough."

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      It's time for a phone to save us from our Kin.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      If you want a WP7 or Kin2.5 or whatever, get a Nokia smartphone and get better for less money.

      Honestly, Nokia phones rock if you get pas the clunky interface. and they all have far better "phone" capabilities than the iPhone and all Android phones. it's like they made it a phone first and toy second.

      I use an iphone simply because of the apps I need are on it. Otherwise I would have a nokia.

    • by trcooper (18794)

      I think it's a different segment of the market that is being targeted by this. I think it's a shrinking market though. When the Kin was first released there were a lot more people still opting for the mid-range 'media phone' type devices. Making you use pay for the same data plan that you would for an Android phone however doomed it. There was honestly no reason to look at one of these over the slew of android phones verizon released over the past year, simply because of the recurring costs vs. features

      • I don't think this competes directly with WP7, but it's more of an attempt to grab what's left of the low end market that no one is focusing on anymore. Not necessarily a bad move, but it's a market that's shrinking and probably won't exist 5 years from now.

        In that regard is is stealing market from WP7, even if there were no overlap (I still think there is some although it's not even 50%). Because Microsoft should be trying to shrink down that five year window which helps push more people into using WP7 -

  • If poor sales didn't kill the sidekick, losing all their customer data due to a server loss certainly finished them off. Whose brilliant idea was it to have no backup redundancies and to destroy client-side copies through a launch synch feature that gleefully "copied" empty directories to the user's phones?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:13PM (#34209648)

      IIRC Microsoft hired dweebs to update the databases who decided to save time and money by not doing backups first. Then middle management panicked and brought the databases back on-line despite the fact most were now empty. All of the permanent damage was done by the panic of middle management. By the time they found the scheduled backups and did a restore there was a dual-master database synch problem. The unique (row?) ids used for identifying records were now duplicated. Chaos ensued.

      The first anniversary of purchase having passed there were almost no senior engineers left onboard. The senior engineers gave Roz Ho a chance and worked to their first year retention, but Kin development management was so screwed that they bailed despite their massive second year retention bonuses. You should have heard the disbelief around the campus when all these senior people bailed without lining up new jobs first. It was that bad. MSFT has only the most token version control, no modularity, absolutely clueless about basic design issues (unlike mp3 players, phone sounds need to overlay each other, etc.) , constantly thrashing from one half-functional never to be delivered Windows OS to another. Zune, Kin don't use actual MSFT OSes, they use heavily munged old forks, which you would think would be a sign to MSFT that everything about their phone OSes sux. but no.

      Rozzie thought she could just dump Danger's in-progress new sidekick contract with T-mobile and put all the engineers on Kin, but of course that didn't work. Complete screw up, no due diligence, I'm sure everyone involved got promoted, that's how the world works.

      anonymous for good reason

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Thanks for the insight...here's to hoping you didn't post them while at work :p

      • Danger/Sidekick is a perfect example for one of my sig lines:

        Cloud computing - if your data is stored in the Cloud, what happens when it rains?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      Not good [computerworld.com]

      Read your link. It's mostly anecdotes about how hard it is to buy one of these phones because of how quickly they sold out despite ugly store displays without working examples.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      There's a supply shortage. None of the manufacturers shipped enough devices to meet demand. It's a good thing it was a Monday launch instead of Friday or Saturday. People might have actually been lined up just to get super pissed they couldn't buy a phone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      God damn it's hilarious when some jackhole declares a product a failure after a week or two. Moron.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Indeed. Just look at the console market new, versus when just after the latest round of consoles were released. It looked very different, but somehow, the Wii, XBox 360 and PS3 are all still around and doing fine.
  • So the phone is being re-released, sans any sort of internet connectivity, thereby killing 95% of the gimmick. Good move Vicrosoft. I'm sure sales will skyrocket now.
  • Deflating the Kin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:00PM (#34209486) Homepage

    so cellular data services and features that require them have been removed.

    Then the article closes with:

    Seriously, who wants a Kin without the unlimited photo uploads?

    I thought the entire point of the Kin was that you could connect to social networking services from anywhere. Removing that ability cripples the phone. But let us suppose that they aer right: buyers want to save money by only using those features when they are connected to WiFi. So be it - no hardware or software changes are required to do that.

    Seems to me that a better option would be to take the Kin functionality and sell a Kin app for Windows 7. Or bundle it. But as the article points out, this may just be a way to unload the hardware backlog.

    • Hardware backlog unloading seems like the most plausible cause.

      Having already been manufactured and shipped, virtually any amount of money made on these things(either in direct sale prices or in plan attaches) is better than the alternative of just scrapping them. Since they were designed to be 'better-than-feature-phones' they should be able to curb-stomp your basic shit feature phone if sold at roughly similar prices, and with roughly similar plans. They are better than feature phones, just not as good
      • by BLToday (1777712)

        When I played with one at the Microsoft store, it was slow... seriously lagging, think iTunes slow. One thing I love about featurephone is that they're fast.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I suspected that the exorbitant charges that Verizon levied on a phone targeted towards young adults who no longer had access to parents money and did not likely yet have a lucrative job was a big part of the problem. Sure it was a good idea but for someone who had $500 of expendable income a month it would be a stretch.

      The question now is what can a gutted kin do that a phone from Walmart or cricket cannot. In the later an Android phone and year of unlimited service can be had for around $1K, which i

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      WP7 is very much a "social network from anywhere" device. Quite a lot of the Kin's features, including most of those best suited to a smartphone-like data paln, are in WP7.

  • Kin* (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:08PM (#34209584) Homepage

    Between the Kinect and the Kindle, do we really need any more Kin* product names?

    • The names were probably better before Microsoft acquired Danger, Inc. Hiptop & Sidekick are slightly better than "KIN". I suppose. Whatever.
      • Could be better. I can think of a very large, untapped market (so to speak):

        KinK

        Could fly....
        • by hedwards (940851)
          Yeah, but do you have any idea how quickly batteries die when attached to nipple shock clips?
          • Yeah, but do you have any idea how quickly batteries die when attached to nipple shock clips?

            Actually, no, I do not....

    • There aren't very many left. Kindows, Kinko's, Kindergarten, Kinematic. And, um, Kincrosoft.

    • by CyberKnet (184349)

      iThink there is room in the market.

      iCould be wrong though...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you mean do we need any more f'kin product names?

  • so now it's a feature-phone without the important data-centric applications. !?!?

  • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:37PM (#34209934) Journal
    I wonder whether Microsoft's 'kin phones will be any better than their 'kin operating systems or 'kin applications. Un 'kin likely.
  • This is a zombie story.

  • by drunkenoafoffofb3ta (1262668) on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:41PM (#34209974) Journal
    In the UK, PAYG phones are getting data thrown in for free with top-ups. The equivalent of ~$16/month in top-ups will get you unlimited internets + some reasonable amount of mins and texts to go with some reasonably inexpensive but good smartphones, like the Sony X10 mini. If that sort of pricing went down in the US, this phone would have a chance. I thought it was quite nifty.
  • They're just trying to get rid of all the unsold hardware they have lying around in warehouses.

    • by symbolset (646467) *

      OK, it's my TFS and it's not even badly munged. You're way down here it the bottom of the comments, and you seem to be the only one who "gets it". So you get my "informative?" reply.

      Microsoft doesn't make their own hardware. They partnered with Sharp [elcoteq.com] to produce the actual equipment. Of couse Sharp jobbed it out to some company we've never heard of, Elcoteq [reuters.com].

      Because Elcoteq is a small, publicly held company that must report significant fiscal events we get to know that the Kins were "more than a third"

  • Microsoft has unveiled its new Zune One and Zune Two [newstechnica.com] mobile phones for unusually stupid social-networking enthusiasts in their late teens and early twenties with a higher income than their IQ.

    Team leader Roz Ho said the company had tried to create a Microsoft gadget that people actually wanted to have, like the XBox 360, but that actually worked properly.

    "Get your Friendster and your MySpace!" said Ms Ho. "We studied consumer habits and built the perfect phone for the, uh, 'social generation,'" she air-quoted, "to make it 'fab' and 'bling' — I mean, of course, 'Bing!' — for people too dumb to work an iPhone to share their lives moment to moment."

    The handset is of simple design for simple people. The keyboard engages caps lock at random and interjects common "chat" acronyms like "LOL" and "OMG" and "RTFM" should too many words in a row be spelt correctly. A breathalyzer automatically switches on the video camera in the event of excessive alcohol consumption. As well as the usual daily crashes, the Blue Screen of Death can be invoked by the user so as to have a suitable excuse not to answer a text. Later revisions of the phone may include making voice calls.

    "We are excited to be the exclusive carrier for this exciting new Microsoft phone in the exciting US," said John Harrobin, Senior Vice President of Paperclip Filing, Morning Drunkenness and Excited Press Release Quotes at Verizon Wireless. "Because we fucking hate you people. We really do."

    Roz Ho was previously leader of the Microsoft team that lost all the data on everyone's T-Mobile Sidekick phones last year when the systems team was told not to bother with backups.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      [...] unusually stupid social-networking enthusiasts in their late teens and early twenties with a higher income than their IQ.

      Frankly, if it weren't, I'd be legitimately worried. So you're saying people with incomes over, oh, let's be generous and say $140 per... um... week? Month? Year? Those are the people with smartphones?

      I'm a bit worried about the people whose IQs are HIGHER than their incomes. Worried because they can probably destroy whole cities just with their minds.

    • The first Kin would have sold incredibly well, but tragically a deal with The Situation to carry on on the "Jersey Shore" fell through when it turned out the various oils he used caused shorts in the keyboard and also the electronics tended to be eaten by a wide variety of biologic organisms living in the hot tub.

  • Leave Kin alone. Leave it ALONE!

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