Microsoft’s(TM) KIN One and KIN Two phones are now dead in the water as Verizon practically begged the company to take them back, according to various reports. The phones, Microsoft’s first ever venture at manufacturing a cell phone handset, were targeted to teens and younger adults who are addicted to messaging and social networking but did not want a smartphone. According to some, this is apparently part of what contributed to the problem.
At the time of this writing, the KIN information web page and the Verizon KIN Sales web page is still allowing this writer access to purchase the KIN One for $29.99 and the KIN Two for $49.99, even though others report that they are receiving a “404 error” when visiting either site. Officially, as of July 19, 2010, Verizon supposedly is not allowing anyone to purchase either of the KIN duo phones online according to many reports. Additionally, according to their spokesperson Brenda Raney, they are also pulling them from Verizon’s physical store shelves and possibly even sending back any remaining KIN phones to Microsoft.
The KIN phones were distinctly different. KIN One was shaped as a squared off hockey puck and the KIN Two resembled a Sidekick, which is a smartphone by Microsoft/Danger and T-Mobile. The KIN One had a 5 megapixel camera and held up to 4 GB of storage, not to mention it had a full, but squished, sliding QWERTY keyboard.
The KIN Two had 8 GB of storage, a 8-megapixel camera and it also had a full QWERTY keyboard. The difference was since the KIN Two was larger, the keyboard was not so squished feeling. While both phones were attractive and fit into pockets just the way kids like them, it was their calling and data plans, not to mention the lack of third party application support that hindered sales.
Total Relative Costs
This disaster makes the first ever attempt by Microsoft to manufacture a phone is not only a total and massive failure, but an expensive one too. Not only were those 8000 people who purchased a KIN paying for nothing, but Microsoft did-and still is-as well.
Some reports are stating that with more than two years in development time and cost, not to mention the marketing costs involved, that each of the 8,000 KIN phones that were sold ultimately cost Microsoft over $64,000 apiece. The individual handsets originally cost about the same as any smartphone does; $50 for the KIN One and $100 for the KIN Two with a two-year contract including a rebate. This extraordinary cost is in addition to regular calling and data plan rates every month.
Fatal Microsoft Mistakes
The first mistake Microsoft made was not to allow applications and other downloads. The failure of the two KIN phones is simply a case of not knowing what the target audience wanted or needed. Sure, Microsoft could have sold the phones at the original price, and given away or sold the data plans for much less, simply because users were getting nothing out of the plan. The problem was that Microsoft was being greedy. All the 8000 reported users were forced into purchasing, at the very least, a $49 a month calling plan that gave only 450 minutes plus $30 a month extra for a data plan that only allowed for messaging.
No downloads, no applications, no programs such as Microsoft Office-nothing. The KINs were simply souped up cell phones with extraordinary costs for nothing. Why would any teen or young adult in this economy want to purchase regular cell phones with no features and then have to pay for a full minute plan plus an extra $30 a month for data usage when they could not download and install anything? This was Microsoft’s fatal mistake wit the KIN phones.
Those who purchased a KIN would have done better purchasing any smartphone. Consider this… Instead of purchasing a KIN One or KIN Two, users could have gotten a free Blackberry Curve, HTC Ozone, Palm Pixi Plus all from Verizon with the same data and calling plans. For less than the original $100 for the KIN Two, they could have gotten the HTC Touch Diamond, the Samsung Omnia II, the LG Chocolate Touch and even a netbook, among many other options. Instead, they gave Microsoft KIN One and Two a chance and are now made to pay for an inferior product at a supreme price and no way to rectify the problem.
Maybe, considering this fatal mistake by Microsoft and those who purchased one of the two KINs, someone will learn a lesson. Do not build and market such a costly cell phone, especially when the research showed no one wants it. This entire fiasco could have been prevented, since reports state that both Microsoft and Verizon knew the KIN phones were about to become DOA, according to reports from Engadget and others. As for those who purchased the phones, do not buy a cell phone that does not justify the costly calling and data plans attached. To both Microsoft and KIN users alike, next time, save your money and spend it on something useful, like a smartphone that does something.
Jason Mick, “Kin Phone Failure Weighing Heavily on Microsoft,” Daily Tech
Chris Ziegler, “Life and Death of Microsoft KIN; The Inside Story,” Engadget
Jason Mick, “Microsoft Likely Lost Over $60,000 Per KIN Phone as Verizon Pulls the Plug,” Daily Tech
Who da’Punk, “The KIN-fusing KIN-clusion to KIN, and FY11 Microsoft Layoff Rumors,” Mini-Microsoft
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Joshua Topolsky, “Microsoft KIN One and KIN Two Review,” Engadget