updated 06:00 pm EDT, Fri July 2, 2010
Microsoft's Lees blamed for Kin's early demise
More details have emerged today of the circumstances that led to the premature death of the Kin that suggest it was endemic to the project. Project Pink was originally led by famed Xbox leader and now departed J Allard but was effectively hijacked by the Windows Mobile team's lead, senior VP Andy Lees. He was "jealous" of the resources he saw being drawn away, according to Engadget sources, and not only took control but forced a change to a Windows CE foundation that conserved resources but doomed the project.
From then onwards, Lees is believed to have only given Kin the bare minimum of consideration. He allegedly ignored calls by the team to add important features like an app store as he simply wanted to complete the phones and return more focus to what became Windows Phone 7. The delay led to Verizon's now well-known decision to abandon discounted service plans and guarantee that few would opt for a Kin over a more capable smartphone.
Corroborating dialog between Microsoft employees supports the idea of infighting at the company but has put some of the blame on Windows Phone engineering head Terry Myerson, who shared the same attitude as Lees. One supporter of Myerson and Lees has characterized Kin as a distraction from the main goal of shipping Windows Phone 7.
Such culture is still seen as common at Microsoft and may have been what prompted a reorganization that now has the Windows Phone team reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. A similar effect may have cost Microsoft control of the tablet market as one executive may have thwarted a touch-friendly Office and downplayed the team, even as it became clear Apple was working on what became the iPad.