updated 12:30 pm EDT, Wed September 29, 2010
Microsoft CEO says Kin took from Windows Phone 7
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer in an interview characterized the Kin phones as a fundamental mistake for the company. The basic feature phones "defocused" Microsoft away from Windows Phone 7 and cut down on what Microsoft could say, the executive said to the Seattle Times. A device needed to be advanced, very concentrated or both to succeed.
"You only get so many things you can really talk about, communicate, work on with the consumer," Ballmer explained. "You've got to be bold, you've got to look forward and you've got to stay focused. Kin was neither -- with 20-20 hindsight."
The Kin line is considered one of Microsoft's highest profile failures as it was both expensive and short-lived. It cost $240 million in expenses even excluding the $500 million acquisition of Danger and may have triggered deep infighting between the Windows Mobile and Kin teams.
Kin One and Two phones were only on the market for just over six weeks and sold just under 10,000 units, falling well short of development costs. Verizon is believed to have inadvertently sabotaged the Kin's success by demanding smartphone-level data plans, but it was anxious enough about the lack of sales that it cut sales prematurely, going back on plans to wait until it had run out of stock.
The series had been planned as a complement to Windows Phone to capture the low end and become the spiritual successor to the Sidekick, but the company is now placing all its hopes on Windows Phone 7 and regaining a position lost to Android, the BlackBerry and the iPhone.
Ballmer was relatively modest in addressing the competition. Responding to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's observation that Bing was more competition than the iPhone, the Microsoft leader was flattered and said that both Apple and Google were "good competitors."