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Microsoft Kin's death pinned on exec's "jealous" infighting

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    well Win Phone 7 is what they need to finish

    I think they were right, the Kin was a distraction, and delaying the Kin to add even more features, for it to be the same eventual failure...and delaying Win Phone 7 too, would be really insane.

    Unless you think Kin was going to have all the features of Win Phone 7 - in which case it would have BEEN win Phone 7, lol

    The only question is, why they did Kin at all.

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The only question is, why they did Kin at all.

    A symptom of the general Microsoft too many cooks that want their broth to be the one and only and they'll stab anyone else's project in the back if given the chance stupidity?

    I've come suspect that within a decade there may very well be a revolution in Redmond that will make the French Revolution look easy. Likely the stockholders will string Ballmer up. (Ultimately he's responsible for allowing MS to fritter away money on dozens of pet projects that lose money by the bucketful. He's also responsible for allowing Department heads to act like they are running their own fiefdoms and not be part of the whole. MS now looks more like the Italian Papal States than a well run Corporation ready for the 21st century) If they don't, as the industry evolves and MS falls further and further behind there will come a day when they lose their chokehold on corporate desktops and Office software at which point the house of cards all comes crashing down.

  1. facebook_Kevin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2010


    SO they still spent millions on national ad spots.

    Just to kill it? There's a Kin ad on as I am typing this.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too many cooks spoil the broth...

    Everyone thinks their project is more important than another. It's possible the Kin could have been somewhat successful if there were lower cost data plans available for it. Since the Sidekick has now been killed off, maybe the Kin would have taken its place. Microsoft is still in the position to experiment with new products since it still has plenty of money to throw away. MS can always hope it gets lucky that consumers will like a new device. Microsoft's mobile platform appears to be in very bad shape and they might as well just shut everything else down and concentrate on Windows Phone 7 and hope they get it right. It appears they'll still have Windows 7, Windows Server and Microsoft Office to keep them flush with cash for a good while to come. No desktop collapse imminent.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    what's surprising is that they killed it at all. when was the last time ms killed something simply because it lost buckets of money? zune? msn? hotmail? live? search? xbox? no no no no no no. xbox is the only one that started showing profitable quarters after many many years of huge losses.

    i see verizon as the reason it was killed. they wouldn't play ball. otherwise i'm sure ms would find a reason to keep it out there. they seem to have an "hey, it's only money" attitude when it comes to these things.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Kin's Existence

    The possibility is that the pressure under stock holders to do something about MS phone due to the very slow progress of Win Mobile 7. Kin was created just to please them temporary or to shut them up.

  1. que_ball

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Spawned from Danger / Sidekick.

    The "problem" is that Microsoft bought that company Danger who were the guys who made the sidekick.

    This kin phone was supposed to be the next sidekick for them. It was supposed to appeal to that niche market the sidekick did well in.

    The pressure to release the phone came from those who thought there should be something to show for that large purchase and some attempt to continue the sidekick legacy.

    Was it more embarrassing to fail as they have or to admit they gained almost nothing from the purchase of Danger? As I understand things, almost everyone who was important to the creation of the Sidekick left after they were bought out.

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