We touched upon the drag Microsoft’s mobile division had on its fourth-quarter earnings, but I overlooked the fact that the company had to write off at least $240 million for the ill-fated Kin phones.
That $240 million could just be the baseline figure, as Engadget points out, because you could very well add on the $500 million Microsoft used to purchase Danger as part of the Kin failure right now. There was also the massive advertising campaign that went nowhere.
If you recall, the Kin phones were the long-awaited results of “Project Pink” and these devices were aimed at social-networking fans who wanted to constantly be connected. Unfortunately, Microsoft thought that market didn’t want to have all the functionality of a real smartphone so it artificially limited the Kin phone capabilities even though these were technically “Windows Phones.”
Additionally, Verizon charged the full smartphone data plan for these devices which means the Kin phones were in direct pricing comparison with handsets like the Motorola Droid X. Consumers responded in the way you would expect and the social networking phones from Microsoft were axed in about two months.
To be a bit positive, there were a few things I liked about the Kin phones. In my review of the Kin One, I was effusive in my praise of the Kin Studio because this automatically backed up all your photos, videos, texts and contacts to an online repository. This is a feature that definitely should be on Windows Phone 7 devices and all smartphones, really.
I also thought the Zune software on the Kin One was pretty good and the Zune Pass made me seriously reconsider my stance on paying for music. Still, despite these small positives, the Kin was absolutely a flop for Microsoft and it needs to move on.