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Ballmer admits Kin stole focus from Windows Phone

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."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What he really means is...

    What Ballmer is really saying is that "We make so much money overcharging on Windows etc that we don't care that we ------ really have NO idea what we are doing. "


    Just a thought,

  1. vintagegeek

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What a cash cow Big Softy is! I keep waiting for them to s**** up the XBox but I think those folks told the rest of Microsoft to bug-off and leave them alone. Yea! Maybe the Phone 7 people will do the same.

  1. Lifeisabeach

    Joined: Dec 1969


    h*** just froze over.

    Ballmer has not only conceded that Microsoft made a major c***-up with the Kin, but essentially complimented Apple and Google as competitors. Is he finally taking the meds he so desperately needed?

  1. CarlRJ

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not Verizon

    "Verizon is believed to have inadvertently sabotaged the Kin's success by demanding smartphone-level data plans"

    Sites keep pointing a finger at Verizon (granted, this article does say "inadvertently"), but the way I hear it, Verizon pulled the agreement for cheaper Kin-specific plans only after waiting most of an extra year for the phones to materialize - if Ballmer hadn't allowed his own employees to sabotage the Kin phones to protect their own little fiefdoms, and they had been available anywhere near when they were originally scheduled, they would have had the cheaper plans, and may have generated a bit more interest.

    After putting up with Microsoft being the giant annoying malicious bully -- pulling dirty tricks and trying to drive their competitors out of business -- for so many years, it's kind of refreshing to see Ballmer being a bit modest/humble.

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    smartphone plans

    many people question why this "dumb" phone has smart phone plans even though it doesn't have the features of most smart phones, and I think the answer is in the cloud. Because of the amount of syncing this phone has to do to keep everything up to date - Verizon needed to make sure it charged enough to compensate for the additional strain all of these phones would put on their network. If MS made the sync wi-fi only, this would not be an issue.

    Looks like too many people using the phones was never going to be a problem though ;)

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's nice.

    When is he going to admit Kin also stole a tiny piece of each human's soul?

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