Technology

In 2008, Microsoft offered Kin as an answer to the iPhone and Android. This caused a civil war within the company

Photo of author

By parm maan

Only two models of the Microsoft Kin were released, and they were pulled six weeks after going on sale

The arrival of the iPhone changed everything and overnight the industry took a 180º turn. From cell phones that were very different from each other and with a wide variety of operating systems, we went to cell phones that seemed to come from the same template (as they do now) and have two dominant systems, iOS with the iPhone of 2007 and Android. with the arrival of the legendary HTC Dream.

Microsoft had been in the mobile space for a few years with its own platform (especially for PDAs), but despite Steve Ballmer's taunts against the iPhone, the Seattle giant surrendered to the obvious: they had to seriously enter the mobile segment – smartphones. And it was not with Windows Phone, but with Microsoft Kin, which led to one of the biggest disasters in the company's history. They were completely withdrawn six weeks after the sale.

Pink project

Before iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, Microsoft had a certain position in the mobile segment thanks to Windows Mobile. It was based on Windows CE and has been around since 2000. Compared to other mobile operating systems, Windows Mobile was extremely advancedbut for many years it was only used in Pocket PCs or PDAs.


Little by little, it was updated, especially to serve the mobile heart, but in late 2009, it appeared to be lagging behind the competition. Reason? Among others, it did not support use on capacitive screens, as it was intended to be a system for mobile phones with resistive screens that used a stylus. This is something that Steve Jobs laughed about at the iPhone launch, and that changed with Windows Mobile 6.5, but it was too late.

It was clear that Windows Mobile needed a reboot (which would arrive in 2010 with the announcement of Windows Phone 7), and it was also known that Microsoft was working on something called “Microsoft Pink” or “Project Pink”. : The problem was that little was known about the project, and others were capturing most of the market.

The very year the iPhone was introduced, Microsoft bought Danger, a company that specialized in developing applications and services for T-Mobile, so it was clear that they were doing something serious about getting into mobile phones. And the person in charge of the project was James Allard, better known as Jay Allard.

Allard was one of Microsoft's executives and a piece that pretty much broke the company's serious image. When Bill Gates tried to go modern with dances or Doom commercials, he felt forced, but Allard was a disruptive piece in Microsoft's executive deck. He is one of the people responsible for Microsoft starting to look at the Internet in its operating systems and one of the forgotten names when we talk about the birth of Xbox, where Xbox Live can be played online as one of its pet projects.

You may also be familiar with the Zune, Microsoft's iPod. It was also his job and, ultimately, it's clear that he had a different vision than the rest of the company's leaders. Well, Allard and his team started working on Pink in 2008, and the purchase of Danger had more to do with acquiring their IP and cloud computing technology than any desire to acquire their workforce.

A civil war at Microsoft

The interesting thing about Microsoft is that some of its products were born out of a civil war. for xbox, Microsoft had two teams working, one with more innovative ideas than the other, and in the end it was Bill Gates who chose one vision or another. Something similar happened to Pink.

Microsoft had two teams working on the mobile platform; on the one hand, Allard and his team with Project Pink. On the other is Andy Lees, a suit-and-tie-wearing CEO working on Windows Phone. They were two completely independent teams and their vision was also different.

It seems like Allard wanted Pink to be more like Zune, which makes sense considering it was also his creation, but Lis was not happy at all. Not only did he not see Allard's project clearly, but he also thought that Pink's team was taking resources from Windows Mobile.

In fact, according to Engadged, Liz was jealous of the project and took control of the project over Allard after an internal rivalry. At the time, Lees was leading Pink and the relaunch of Windows Mobile, something that later became known as Windows Phone. The two projects had different code and a completely different foundation and the logical thing is to think about unification, but no. Microsoft had to launch its Pink operating system.

That's because it already had contracts with companies that included Sharp and Verizon.

A sexting, unfinished cell phone forced to sell

After many rumors, Microsoft introduced in April 2010. Two years behind the iPhone and one behind Android, but hey, they introduced the Microsoft Kin. That was the commercial name of the project, and they did it with perhaps a slightly legitimate idea; a video in which a teenager takes a photo of his torso and sends the image to another teenager.

We don't know who did it, but it forced the company to fix it because it was already rumored to be contributing sexting. And that's it The phone focused on teenagers and young adults, so that image was not entirely appropriate. But well, despite the controversy, the announcement did try to clarify the nature of Microsoft Kin.

This statement, by the way, was this.

And they were “social phones,” as Microsoft themselves described them, very focused on social networking and communication, something that was heavily integrated into the home screen of the devices, which, by the way, were two; The Kin ONE and Kin Two. . They didn't think much about the name.

The two models had different screen formats, but both had a capacitive touch panel, cameras, and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. They also shared an unfinished operating system. They didn't have an app store., you couldn't install third-party apps, there were no games, no calendar app or sync with Outlook, no instant messaging apps like Messenger, and the keyboard was half-baked. To give us an idea, the 2003 Motorola MPX200 already had Messenger.

It's actually bloody good that the social networking-focused mobile phone had a Twitter app that was essentially a feed. You couldn't upload photos, you couldn't send direct messages, and you couldn't RT.

“Close employees were squirming in their chairs, not knowing who would keep their jobs.”

There were a number of other elements that were missing, and it seemed incredible that a mobile phone was sold in such a green state, when there were others with iOS and the Android family that did not stop growing, but the reason was in those internal battles. When Lees took over the Allard division, it seems that the design direction changed, and the main system was more like Windows Mobile, but without the new features that would soon become popular with Windows Phone.

This led to delays in development, and the main problem was that it had to be made available for sale in any condition. We have already commented on that Sharp was chosen to manufacture the hardware and Verizon was going to be the exclusive selling point, so the carrier (with huge power in the US) pushed to keep the dates.

In fact, the aforementioned Engadget story points out that those involved with Kin knew it was going to go wrong, but it had to go ahead regardless. The two development teams were completely separate, and Lees is credited as being responsible. In the article, they noted that Kin employees were “spinning in their chairs, not knowing who will keep their jobs.”

A billion failure

Still, Kin had some cool ideas, like cloud storage that automatically synced photos, videos, and messages for viewing in a cloud service called Kin Studio, and Koop, a service that worked as an aggregator for social networks like Facebook. , Twitter or MySpace.

However, rushed development, annoying presentation and rather weak features led the phones to fail. Combined with Verizon's pretty high ratessales are rumored to have been dismal, so much so that the mobile phones stopped selling six weeks after their launch.

Furthermore, another article claims that these internal Microsoft issues caused an 18-month launch delay, which upset Verizon so much that: Kin did so with a higher contract at the time of the sale than originally offered, which made Kin cell phones much less attractive to users. The point is to see that the minimum rate was $69.98 per month for two years.

You could say Microsoft and Verizon killed it… and Kin itself killed itself. They are said to have sold 500 units at launch, six weeks after launch Verizon began recalling the phones and to salvage something Sharp released versions of both phones with limited features (even more). which also could not save the furniture. In fact, in August 2011, they decided why to continue.

Overall, the time between the purchase of Danger and the actual development is estimated to have been an operation which It cost Microsoft $1 billion, who focused his efforts on Windows Phone and, as we say, should have launched Kin, as the saying goes, “by the way.” And don't think this was just for the United States, as Microsoft was supposed to launch Kin in Spain with Vodafone in the fall of 2010, but for obvious reasons that never happened.

In October of the same year, Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 7, a much more rounded system, and closed the official Kin page the following year. Several of Kin's ideas were present in the new Windows Phone, which received companies such as Samsung, HTC or LG as major support (with phones such as the HTC HD7, HTC 7 Trophy , HTC 7 Mozart, Samsung Omnia 7 or LG Optimus 7). ) and, first of all, it had an app store.

The woman passed without pain and glory, it was a big failure, and the most interesting thing is that due to its passing and the fact that social networks were not so crowded in 2010, many people might not even have heard about this project. a mega company like Microsoft.

In Xataka |: In 1993, Satya Nadella was a lean middle man who introduced Excel to developers. Today, he is the CEO of Microsoft

Leave a Comment