updated 05:20 pm EDT, Wed June 30, 2010
Microsoft Kin already a failure
(Updated with leaked estimates) Microsoft today surprised the phone industry by ending the Kin phone line just six weeks after it launched in mid-May. The company promised it would still sell the Kin One and Two through Verizon for now but has scrapped all of its international plans. It didn't say how long it expected to keep sales but made clear the shift was solely to its true smartphone lineup.
"We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship Kin in Europe this fall as planned," a Microsoft statement read. "Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases."
The end to Kin was first confirmed after Verizon had included Kin in a sale on old phones, but concerns about its health began not long after its launch; a never-confirmed rumor had suggested that Verizon may have sold just 500 Kin phones US-wide. Retail staff have commented that even Palm's historically struggling Pre Plus and Pixi Plus have fared noticeably better.
Most of the blame for the death of the Kin series is attributed to its plan pricing. Although far from a smartphone as it lacked third-party apps and even some common built-in features like a calendar, Microsoft and Verizon agreed to require the same $70 plan as a full smartphone. The decision essentially conceded sales to most smartphones Verizon sells, especially cheap but modern smartphones like Palm's line and even Android phones like the LG Ally.
Unofficially, suspicions have been raised that the project was in trouble before launch as the company squandered its acquisition of the Sidekick's creator, Danger, and may have let the team grow isolated from the Windows Phone 7 and Zune teams, preventing it from sharing any resources with other mobile groups.
Update: a leak has put Kin sales at less than 10,000 devices so far. The Kin group's lead, former MacBU leader Roz Ho, will move to a different position in the company once the group is closed down.