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Blame for Kin's death spreads, casts doubt on Win Phone 7

updated 03:00 pm EDT, Wed July 7, 2010

Microsoft workers say Kin leaders may kill WP7 too

More Microsoft employees have weighed in on the death of the Kin project and are now suggesting that the problems may spill over into Windows Phone 7. In addition to criticizing Windows Phone lead Andy Lees for downplaying Kin to protect his preferred OS, anonymous comments from within the company also lay blame at the feet of Matt Bencke, who was purportedly responsible for letting Verizon charge smartphone-level rates for a limited device. He may also have pressured the Kin team to drop features to make the international launch with no guarantees it would ever arrive.

One also accused Lees of indecisiveness. With roughly two years to cancel the Kin before it shipped, he allegedly wasn't aggressive enough to kill the project outright and instead repeatedly greenlit development where it could have been cut short. That indecision combined with existing staff could hurt the much more important Windows Phone 7 launch, the unnamed employee said.

"Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch," he said. "Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn't help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista."

The company's executive-heavy structure and historical tendency to reassign rather than fire executives has also been attacked. One of the former Danger workers brought on to work on Kin said the company was led by "politics rather than logic," while another Microsoft worker complained that the company wouldn't let go of Andy Lees or Kin leader Roz Ho, even after more than one troubled project. Simultaneously, knowledgeable leaders like Tom Gibbons may have been "sidelined" despite deeper knowledge.

Windows Phone 7 is still expected to perform far better through a much more smartphone-quality OS, but its success will depend heavily on broad support. HTC, LG, Samsung and others have all pledged phones but may have relatively small lineups relative to their Android projects. Some of the lessons learned from Kin may be rolled into the more advanced software, such as the Kin Studio's media backup and sharing services. [via SAI]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How many did they really sell?

    The Kin was sort of doomed from the minute it announced, but one does really have to marvel at the speed with which Microsoft killed something that they'd spent considerable money and work bringing to market and HEAVILY advertising.

    What I really want to know, though, is how many they sold. I've heard the numbers "500" and "10,000" thrown around, both of which are ridiculously low, but then who knows, given that it made essentially zero sense to buy one of these instead of a Droid Eris or any of a half-dozen other smartphones that did more on a similarly-expensive data plan.

    Not like I'm gloating about a Microsoft failure. No, I'd only do that if I were bitter about spending the last 6 years wasting countless hours of frustrated life coding around willfully-unfixed bugs in Internet Explorer 6 that exist solely because Microsoft won the browser wars and promptly stopped caring about the product. Which I'm not. I didn't spend long nights dreaming of doing spectacularly painful things to IE6 executives and programmers on a regular basis. So I of course wouldn't relish every financial and business embarrassment the company suffers.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Things must not be looking good for internal

    comments to be undermining Windows Phone 7. How bad could it really be? The hardest part will be getting vendors to give up Android and giving Windows Phone a chance. Microsoft might be better off contracting some hardware vendor to build a Microsoft flagship smartphone as a start.

  1. vintagegeek

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Does anyone really care about the Kin or for that matter Microsoft. They're too big. Balmer has no control over the in-fighting. Blah, blah, blah. The only really "innovative" product in years has been the Xbox...and they finally put "everything" in it this time. Took them long enough to integrate wireless, but at least they went with "N". Nice article in Information Week on "When Tech Companies Get Too Big". Prime example.

  1. facebook_Don

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2010


    Ah Hah!

    Microsoft is so screwed up. I have no clue why they would focus on the Kin when they had WIndows Phone 7 coming out, talk about a lousy business model.

  1. socritic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS is run by buffoons

    Another dud from MS. Seriously, who runs this Circus Act? Funny thing is these people make really good money to fail . Kinda like the BP of hi-tec

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We will have a phone!

    You must develop it. It has to be simple. Make it happen!

    Yes, O Great One. We will sell hundreds of them.

  1. facebook_Rush

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2010


    Not the end of it all

    While Google has been strutting their stuff and Apple getting all the hype. The truth of the matter is that smartphones still provide a percentage volume of all phones in existence, it will be a while until the haves and have nots are balanced out to outweigh the each other - there is a long time before smartphones become mainstream so that everyone has one so with that in mind and the importance of mobile phones MS is the underdog but in reality until today no one can claim certain victory no one phone has become the standard that all will follow, of course Apple laid down the blueprints and Google is doing what they do best imitating but when all is said and done MS was one of the originals and Google now becomes the third wheel with the emergence of WP7. What I think is important is that MS has vision and a goal to lead the company and the future. Its not hard to figure out what consumers want and its not hard to implement ideas it is hard to execute and leave no stone unturned. Even today MS could have given WM6.x for free and constantly updated the phone and the software to compete with Android and used it as spearhead for WP7. WM6.5 and further variation would have given HTC, Motorola, Samsung an alternative besides Android. And with the Kin MS should have made one Zune look alike device with the Microsoft name and made it big to view the web and movies and such a device would have been awesome, even if only running WM6.5 I will patiently wait for mine I dont like ATT and I dont like how google is going to analyze everything single bit of data for their advantage. So come on baby...bring home the bacon MS...

  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re:Not the end of it all

    What are you smoking? MS could have updated WM 6.5, but somehow the only way anybody might have gotten it on their phone was through methods that were not legally sanctioned and could have bricked the phone. WM 6.1 sucked and WM 6.5 just sucked a little less. MS sat on their a** like they were the king of the hill. But somehow, they oghta, coulda, might've, put out a better version, but they didn't. There are major players with Apple and Google's Android and RIM. I'm not mentioning Nokia, since there is concern they're on the outs in smartphones with Symbian. MS isn't even the "third wheel", maybe fifth. Microsoft will have to really pull a rabbit out their a** if they have any hope of gaining market share. I don't think people trust MS to make a good operating system for smartphones.

    Don't even get me started with note files that are saved in an archaic format that even Office wouldn't read. Time will tell how MS weathers the smartphone business with WM 7.0, but they lost me at 6.1 and I ain't never going back.

  1. popshed

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Poor name

    The name was poorly thought out. A simple phrase like:

    "Sorry sir, my 'kin phone cut out when we went through a tunnel"

    could get you the sack.

    "anyone seen my 'kin phone?"

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Not the end of it all

    The flaws in your argument are thus

    First in believing that there will be One standard for the industry. That ain't going to happen. The standard if you will will be the network: 4G, 5G, whatever it becomes down the road. As all of the OSs can connect to the network there is no advantage for one over the other. In the PC world it did become for a few years a Windows world: if you didn't run Windows you couldn't run most software. That isn't what's going on here.

    Secondly, The manufacturers can charge X for a phone. If given a choice between Android that's free or WP7 that eats up some of X without showing any advantage which one do you think they will pick.

    Thirdly, Yes MS was one of the first with a Mobile OS. They are in third and fading because all others are demonstrably better. That's where the market has gone. Unless WP7 is able to replicate a burger and fries on the table in front of you I don't see it enticing many manufacturers and customers. That it will be better than WP6.5 is a given. That it will be ENOUGH better than Android or iOS in the customers eyes to make a difference is debatable.

    Last The customer doesn't care what OS their phone runs. It's the environment. Apple has the AppStore, Android has their own software store. MS makes money off the OS. They don't do storefronts well. Just try to find an answer on their web site. I don't see them ever being as good, let alone enough better to 'win' by your definition as Google or Apple.

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