Microsoft’s first attempt at making its own mobile phones wasn’t exactly a success. In fact, it would be fair to say that the Microsoft KIN was one of the genuine flaming-bus-crash-into-an-orphanage disasters of recent mobile phone industry history. But Microsoft apparently thinks it’s older and wiser now, and it wants to try making its own phones again, according to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund. Per Business Insider, Sherlund sent out a note today stating that Steve Ballmer and his merry band “may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8.” What’s more, Sherman said that “it is unclear to us whether this would be a reference platform or whether this may be a go-to market Microsoft branded handset.” Given the recent hurt feelings of Windows OEMs over the release of the Microsoft-made Surface tablet, it’s inevitable that Microsoft’s Windows Phone partners will bellyaching about a home-spun Windows smartphone as well if Sherlund’s report pans out. More →
According to industry insider Eldar Murtazin, Nokia is set to begin discussing the possibility selling its cell phone business to Microsoft. The blogger, who has a proven track record of disseminating accurate intel, says negotiations will begin next week and the results will not immediately be made public. If the two giants do work out a sale, however, it could close before the end of 2011. According to Murtazin, “both companies are in a big hurry.” The idea seems like a bit of a stretch, but some believed Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was brought on board for this very reason — an idea that seemed far fetched at the time. And let’s not forget, Nokia was founded in the 1800s as a paper company and it shifted gears several times before building its first cell phone, so a change in direction would certainly be in line with the company’s heritage.
UPDATE: Nokia spokesman Mark Squires posted the following on Twitter: “We typically don’t comment on rumors. But we have to say that Eldar’s rumors are getting obviously less accurate with every passing moment.” More →
It looks like Microsoft’s banished Kin handsets have taken the long walk of shame back to Verizon Wireless. You may remember back in late-June, Microsoft lowered the ax on the two devices — the Kin ONE and Kin TWO — noting that its main focus going forward would be Windows Phone 7. Although exact sales figures were never released for the device, it was widely speculated that the pair’s required data plan of $29.99 (making the minimum monthly bill around $70) had a lot to do with the abridged shelf-life.
Fast forward to today, five months later, and the same two devices are back — with and extra letter tacked onto their names and fewer data-plan-prerequisites. The relaunched Kin ONEm and Kin TWOm will retail for $19.99 and $49.99 respectively with a signed two-year contract. The pair offer a choice of two data plans: $15 for 150MB per month and $30 for 5GB per month. Verizon’s site does mention that the $9.99, 25MB feature-phone data plan is available for the Kins, but we haven’t been able to successfully add it to either handset.
There you have it. The Kin is back and just in time for the holidays. More →
John Gruber of Daring Fireball has a “well-placed” source who informed him that Microsoft sold a mere 503 KINs before the handset was given its end-of-life papers on June 30th. Speculative rumors of the device’s dismal sales figures have been tossed around willy-nilly over the last several week, and five hundred was a popular guess; others quoting anonymous sources pegged sales at “over 1,000 but under 10,000.” One Microsoft employee told website Business Insider:
“We had a huge launch party on campus and I bet that party cost more than the amount of revenues we took in on the product. As an employee, I am embarrassed. As a shareholder, I am pissed. It’s one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it’s something else to launch. I suspect we launched because we felt like we HAD to so we could save face because we were trying to build buzz, but overall – huge fail.”
Ouch. Anyone out there know somone who picked up a KIN?
UPDATE: PocketNow is reporting that the KIN’s Facebook application actually registers itself when a user activates it. Currently, FB is reporting that the KIN has 8,810 active users, making Gruber’s 503 number very inaccurate. More →
Apparently Microsoft has come to the realization that, much like the hipsters it was targeting with the device, no one wants to be caught dead with a KIN. Microsoft has confirmed that the two devices are toast. Here is what their PR people said.
We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. 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. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”
Good riddance, we say. More →
Verizon Wireless customers in the market for a new handset may want to put the brakes on any purchases until next week. One of our insiders tipped us off to a sale on handsets that is slated to start on Monday, June 28th. The promotion extends to both smartphones and feature phones and includes the following handsets:
- LG enV Touch: $49.99 after $100 mail-in-rebate ($30 drop). Eligible for BOGO (buy one get, one same device).
- BlackBerry Storm 2: $149 after $100 mail-in-rebate ($30 drop). Eligible for BOGA (buy one, get any device of equal or lesser value).
- Nokia Twist: $49.99 after $50 mail-in-rebate ($50 drop).
- Kin ONE: $29.99 after $100 mail-in-rebate ($30 drop). Eligible for BOGA.
- Kin TWO: $49.99 after $100 mail-in-rebate ($30 drop). Eligible for BOGA.
With an average savings of $30, the sale is on the small side, especially for the singleton looking to score one phone; but a couple, with two phones in hand, can do well with the price drop and the BOGO combined.
We’ve heard that starting tomorrow, the Microsoft KIN 1 and KIN 2 will be selling for free and $49 respectively. More →
The fine folks iFixit have once again teamed up with Chipworks to tear down one of the greatest latest gadgets to hit the scene in the KIN TWO. Before you tune out and keep on scrolling, we should let you know that a lot of impressive stuff was uncovered after cracking the thing wide open. So without further ado, here’s a summary of what was found. The brains of the phone, a NVIDIA Tegra APX2600, are sandwiched together with memory in a four die, chip-on-chip package. The 8 megapixel IMX046 image sensor from Sony takes up only .5mm3 and has a pixel size of 1.4 micrometers. Other chips include a Qualcomm QSC8065 and a Texas Instruments WL1271A that takes care of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the FM Radio. The digitizer is a Clearpad made by Synaptics, and the USB 2.0 transceiver is an incredibly tiny 4mm2. Pretty crazy to think that there’s so much advanced technology in a cheap featurephone, right? More →
Life streamers should mark their calendars for May 6th as Microsoft’s socially-driven KIN ONE and KIN TWO handsets are slated to make their official debut on Verizon Wireless. With its 5MP camera and diminutive design, the clamshell KIN ONE will be available for a reasonable $49.99 after a $100 mail in rebate and 2-year contract. With is 8MP camera and HD capability, the KIN TWO is the premium of the pair and will sport a slightly higher $99.99 price tag after a $100 mail in rebate and a 2-year deal. The KIN ONE and the KIN TWO can be activated on a Nationwide Talk plan and due to the presumed copious data consumption of upload hungry tweens, both will require a minimum data plan of $29.99 per month. If you listen closely enough, you can hear the collective gasp of penny-pinching parents around the nation. More →
We’ve only been using the Microsoft KIN Two for about half a day. Even though that isn’t enough time to put a comprehensive review together, we can still comment on our initial reactions about the device.
The Microsoft KIN One and KIN Two are aimed at a non-professional crowd, mostly the young Justin Bieber generation. For phones in this category, they definitely do pack a punch. For starters, there is Microsoft Exchange support (no calendar support), an 8 megapixel camera with 720p video capture, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and all the social networking integration you could want. Microsoft actually is not very spec-heavy when pushing this device as they realize the specifications are almost irrelevant to the target buyer — and that’s smart.
The real issue is that we cannot remember a phone in recent memory that has felt so cheap and so clunky to use. Seriously. For some reason — and I am really not exaggerating here — I do not remember ever being so frustrated with a phone. It is slow and far from intuitive. There are feature phones that I would rather carry around with me. The one saving grace we thought the KIN had was that the data plans would be more economical than the traditional $30/month unlimited data packages. Well, we were wrong. The KIN Two goes for $99.99 on a two year contract after $100 MIR, but you still need that $30 data plan on top of your texting plan, on top of your voice plan (or family plan). I’m sorry, but I don’t see the advantage of a device this limited in this day and age, not with $100 Android devices, $100 iPhones, and $100 BlackBerry handsets (that all use the same $30/month data package). The concept is fine, but the execution is more a mashup of glitter, key lime pie, and a crappy stained glass window artist all thrown together under Sharp’s assembly lines.
Yes, the added value stuff is cool — KIN Studio lets you see a historical archive of your entire phone, complete with text messages, photos and videos, and KIN Loop on the homepage is great in theory — but again, the execution here is the issue, and it reminds me of Motorola’s MOTOBLUR mess of a homescreen.
Going one step further, this device kind of spoiled my excitement for Windows Phone 7 — it is definitely not the same (though they do have the same base kernel), but it seems to be a little peak into that window, and from where I am standing, I don’t like the view. We have some photos ready to go in the gallery, plus the HTC Incredible makes a cameo for some size comparisons.
Not even a whole two months removed from their announcing Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft is back today with another event in which it is expected to reveal its Project Pink line-up including the handsets known as the “Pure” and “Turtle”. Whether or not they’ll run WP7 or something else entirely isn’t clear, but all of this will soon be clear. As the event carries on we’ll be updating this post with the latest information, so be sure to check often lest you be left out of the loop. All of the goodness is after the jump. More →