Worst Gadgets Ever, Episode 2: Microsoft Kin

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The world of mobile technology is one of the fiercest competitive markets ever. In the quest to stand out from the pack, some companies make bold moves and succeed brilliantly. Others are more meek and fade into the unexceptional background. Still others fill the space between, innovating once, then endlessly iterating over and over again.

Then there are those that just screw it all up. Thanks to choices that are either too bold, too meek, or just plain-old absolutely insane, these are the products that fall flat on their face. They’re not to be mocked, but the lessons they teach should certainly be remembered. 

That’s our goal with Worst Gadgets Ever: recalling some of mobile technology’s biggest blunders, acknowledging what the original intent was, and taking lessons from failures in execution.

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The Microsoft Kin. The very name conjures a sense of loss. The whole fiasco still bears that special flavor of disappointment that only the spectacular collapse of an ambitious concept can deliver.

The Kin device family was born of the ashes of the Sidekick and the Hiptop, in the wake of Microsoft’s acquisition of Danger. It promised an early peek into what would eventually become the new Windows Phone, and ushered in some of the UI concepts we see in the platform today.

Unfortunately, according to reports from sites covering the saga at the time, the Kin was also the victim of corporate infighting and a steadfast refusal to commit the necessary resources to its development. As a result, it arrived on the market in a decidedly half-baked state, was paired with a truly horrible data plan offering from Verizon Wireless, and accordingly, failed in spectacular fashion. Sales were halted barely three months after they began, with some rumors quoting global sell-through figures in the hundreds.

What made the Kin so repugnant? Was there anything worthwhile at all in this strange pair of devices, with their peculiar packaging, strange interface, cheap plastics, and mushy buttons? What was it like to hold a Kin Two during the short time it was offered on the shelves of America’s largest carrier? How much of the old Kin interface remains in today’s Windows Phones? We’ll try to answer some of those questions in Episode 002 of Worst Gadgets Ever. Check the video below.

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Referenced “inside story” source material via Engadget

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About The Author
Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA.Read more about Michael Fisher!