Throwback Thursday: The miserable, short-lived life of the Microsoft Kin

Throwback Thursday: The miserable, short-lived life of the Microsoft Kin

Every Thursday, social media feeds tend to get injected with a dose of nostalgia. We don’t typically do Throwback Thursdays here at WinBeta but we thought we’d try it out, take a little break from all the new build releases before we have to cover a new one tomorrow.

On this particular Thursday, we travel back to April 12, 2010. Just two months after Microsoft surprised us with the announcement of the all-new Windows Phone 7 Series, the software giant introduced two new phones to the world. We curiously said hello to the Kin One and Kin Two.

The Kin line were designed for the young, and the restless. As well as those that constantly lost themselves in social networks, forever chatting, liking, tweeting, favoriting etc. Microsoft defined this group as people between the ages of 15-30.

Throwback Thursday: The miserable, short-lived life of the Microsoft Kin

The Kin One, shaped like a turtle, featured a 2.6” touchscreen, a physical QWERTY keyboard, a NVIDIA Tegra processor, 4GB of storage, 256MB of RAM, a 5MP camera towards the back and the usual bunch of connectivity hardware and sensors.

Throwback Thursday: The miserable, short-lived life of the Microsoft Kin

The Kin Two was less rounded and looked more like a smartphone (although both Kins were marketed as feature phones), it came with a larger 3.4” display, a wider QWERTY keyboard, the same Tegra processor and RAM capacity, but with 8GB of storage and an 8MP 720p rear camera.

Throwback Thursday: The miserable, short-lived life of the Microsoft Kin

The devices were supported by the Kin Studio, a cloud storage service that automatically backed up all the content of the Kin including photos, videos, messages, contacts and more into a presentable website that would be easily accessible from any PC. From the looks of it, Kin Studio seemed quite innovative for its time, considering it’s practically what OneDrive (and SkyDrive before it) does today.

Despite being branded as “Windows Phones”, the two Kins actually ran a custom version of Windows CE. Though, contradictory to its target market, KIN OS was anything but active and in motion. Reviewers called it cluttered, unintuitive and claimed that it lagged like nobody’s business. By the time Microsoft could do anything about it, the damage had been done.

Verizon Wireless, the exclusive provider of these Sharp-built devices pulled the devices within months due to poor sales, and Microsoft discontinued the product completely and reassigned its development team following a second measly attempt to sell off existing units.

The onslaught of bad reviews may have been only one of a number of reasons why the Kin failed. Wired seems to think it was not only because of the shortcomings of Kin OS, but also because of the lack of solid app support, poor marketing with its “faux hipster vibe”, and an expensive starting price.

Whatever the reasons, the Kins came, and were quickly forgotten. Still, it wasn’t all bad for Microsoft. The company was determined to get back into the smartphone race with Windows Phone 7, which jumpstarted the push towards the rather wonderful Modern world of Windows that we’re in today.

#ThrowbackThursday

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