Microsoft to close KIN Studio

The KIN series of devices have been nothing short of a colossal blunder for Microsoft. After being pulled from store shelves after dismal sales, and then reemerging several months later, Verizon and Microsoft are now sending out a heads up to KIN owners that KIN Studio will close on January 31, 2011.

The closing of KIN Studio will essentially remove all the features that were originally touted when the devices were initially released. WPCentral got its hands on the memo from Verizon that states after January 31st, KIN studios will no longer be supported by Microsoft. 

As a result, the following will happen:

  • Feed Reader will stop working
  • Search Near me will stop working
  • Most pictures currently on Kin will only appear at thumbnail resolution
  • Posting to Social Networks, including any pictures or statuses, will no longer work
  • Social network contacts will disappear
  • Social networks will only be accessible via the web browser 
  • Loop will stop working
  • Kin Spot will only send to emails.
  • Zune Pass will be accessible only over WiFi

After the removal of support, the KIN devices will be permantely gimped, losing a substantial amount of functionality that the devices currently enjoy. Because of this, Verizon is offering users a free 3G phone to replace their KIN. The devices that will be available is unclear, but users will at least not be forced to continue using a half working device

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Angry Birds to land on the PC soon

Next Story

Twitter to open European HQ in London

39 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Wow....just wow....I am in the market for a replacement phone for my env3 which has been replaced too many times already and was seriously considering the Kin line for the replacement since it had wifi abilities as well as the FM radio ability. But might move off to another one.

I wonder why it is still on Verizon's site for sale if this is the case. I guess it isn't a major thing for them just yet.

I'm sorry but what Microsoft just did here deserves some punishment. So they bring KIN back and of course people bought it only to be told a couple weeks later, "HA! Gotcha! Your new KIN will be useless starting January 31, 2011! Thanks for the money, now scram!" If Microsoft doesn't compensate these users FULLY and I mean 100% (I would even demand more but that's just me, I hate being ripped off) then Microsoft needs to be taken to court. Class action lawsuit anyone?

ManOfMystery said,
I'm sorry but what Microsoft just did here deserves some punishment. So they bring KIN back and of course people bought it only to be told a couple weeks later, "HA! Gotcha! Your new KIN will be useless starting January 31, 2011! Thanks for the money, now scram!" If Microsoft doesn't compensate these users FULLY and I mean 100% (I would even demand more but that's just me, I hate being ripped off) then Microsoft needs to be taken to court. Class action lawsuit anyone?

you know that microsoft just followed up to their contract with verizon.
if anyone's to blame about the failur eof the KIN its verizon, which offers replacement phones

People who purchased a Kin device when they re-emerged should be compensated, perhaps with some vouchers towards a new phone...

KIN was meant to come out far earlier than it did, and it was aimed solely at young people who wanted a social phone - so it could do what they wanted it to do, and parents could afford it (similar to how some older people want a simple phone that can barely do anything else). Unfortunately, delays caused the device to cost way more than it should, and anyone who could afford it could afford a fully-fledged smartphone as well. Ultimately there was no reason for someone to buy a KIN over anything else. It sounded like a great idea, up until they released details of pricing.

hey where can i buy unlocked kin online... i should be able to get it dirt cheap...
any idea...and yes gsm version not the cdma version.

gayfish said,
hey where can i buy unlocked kin online... i should be able to get it dirt cheap...
any idea...and yes gsm version not the cdma version.

I don't think there is a gsm version and why would you want to? It's gonna be crippled in a few months.

thealexweb said,

I don't think there is a gsm version and why would you want to? It's gonna be crippled in a few months.

yeah but still hardware specs are impressive..not bad at all..Crippled--i am not a big fan of facebook posting useless things or making status updates.i have always used nokia and want a change and i guess if i get it cheap it would suffice..

Kin is a perfect example of why Microsoft drives me insane...

They have such a rich pool of developers, researchers, and good technology in place.

Then along comes an idea that has some merit, and instead of using the technologies they already have, they cobble together their own version that doesn't work as well and doesn't utilize any of the existing brilliance Microsoft has invested in.

It is like having a group of employees inventing a magical wand, and other groups in the company just see the magical wand as a weird stick and never use it.

Or have a team invent flubber, and the other teams not realize it or not realize what it does, and go on to invent their own rubber that is inferior to the existing flubber the company already has sitting around.

Beyond the Kin, if look at certain divisions and structures in Microsoft, there is a massive communication problem between the brilliant minds and the next tier up that utilizes the technology and again another disconnect up to the marketing and sales levels and another disconnect up to the business people like Ballmer.

Gates at least understood the technologies, and could see past the initial $$$ signs if the product would be beneficial to consumers or the advancement of technology. Ballmer just doesn't seem to have this level of understanding.

Marketing has been the worst, not only with bad ad campaigns, but with a total lack of understanding of the features of the products that are consumer concepts that are fairly easy to convey.

For example: Apple did wonders with Time Machine, yet Vista had Previous Versions long before Time Machine - Microsoft marketing to this date has NEVER marketed it to consumers.

'Previous Versions' not only does the exact same features as Time Machine with versioned backups, but also because of NTFS copy-on-write abilities, can even do timelines and versions of files and folder that haven't been backup up or have changed since the last backup.

I bet a lot of people here still don't realize much about 'Previous Versions' - And it should have been a MAJOR marketing feature for Windows, even if the marketing was a response to Apple by going, "We have had Time Machine features for several years, it is nice to see Apple catch up on the backup aspect; however, Windows can go back in time on files and folders even if you don't have a backup."

Like I said it drives me insane, and I would love to spend time just educating various divisions on the technologies they have and don't realize it...

Kin was such a fail on so many levels, and instead of pulling it around and shoving the devices to WP7 or WP7 lite to save it, they instead cut losses, hurt consumers, and screwed their public image for a few $$. (Ballmer should go just for crap like this alone.)

thenetavenger said,
Kin is a perfect example of why Microsoft drives me insane...

They have such a rich pool of developers, researchers, and good technology in place.

Then along comes an idea that has some merit, and instead of using the technologies they already have, they cobble together their own version that doesn't work as well and doesn't utilize any of the existing brilliance Microsoft has invested in.

It is like having a group of employees inventing a magical wand, and other groups in the company just see the magical wand as a weird stick and never use it.

Or have a team invent flubber, and the other teams not realize it or not realize what it does, and go on to invent their own rubber that is inferior to the existing flubber the company already has sitting around.

Beyond the Kin, if look at certain divisions and structures in Microsoft, there is a massive communication problem between the brilliant minds and the next tier up that utilizes the technology and again another disconnect up to the marketing and sales levels and another disconnect up to the business people like Ballmer.

Gates at least understood the technologies, and could see past the initial $$ signs if the product would be beneficial to consumers or the advancement of technology. Ballmer just doesn't seem to have this level of understanding.

Marketing has been the worst, not only with bad ad campaigns, but with a total lack of understanding of the features of the products that are consumer concepts that are fairly easy to convey.

For example: Apple did wonders with Time Machine, yet Vista had Previous Versions long before Time Machine - Microsoft marketing to this date has NEVER marketed it to consumers.

'Previous Versions' not only does the exact same features as Time Machine with versioned backups, but also because of NTFS copy-on-write abilities, can even do timelines and versions of files and folder that haven't been backup up or have changed since the last backup.

I bet a lot of people here still don't realize much about 'Previous Versions' - And it should have been a MAJOR marketing feature for Windows, even if the marketing was a response to Apple by going, "We have had Time Machine features for several years, it is nice to see Apple catch up on the backup aspect; however, Windows can go back in time on files and folders even if you don't have a backup."

Like I said it drives me insane, and I would love to spend time just educating various divisions on the technologies they have and don't realize it...

Kin was such a fail on so many levels, and instead of pulling it around and shoving the devices to WP7 or WP7 lite to save it, they instead cut losses, hurt consumers, and screwed their public image for a few $. (Ballmer should go just for crap like this alone.)

Your comment was full of fail...

Agreed, Kin has failed. Considering the options, the best path that Microsoft could take was to close it down and shift the focus/resources on Windows Phone 7.

Microsft has had some failures before and they always come back stronger. This should be no different...

thenetavenger said,
Kin is a perfect example of why Microsoft drives me insane...

They have such a rich pool of developers, researchers, and good technology in place.

Then along comes an idea that has some merit, and instead of using the technologies they already have, they cobble together their own version that doesn't work as well and doesn't utilize any of the existing brilliance Microsoft has invested in.

It is like having a group of employees inventing a magical wand, and other groups in the company just see the magical wand as a weird stick and never use it.

Or have a team invent flubber, and the other teams not realize it or not realize what it does, and go on to invent their own rubber that is inferior to the existing flubber the company already has sitting around.

Beyond the Kin, if look at certain divisions and structures in Microsoft, there is a massive communication problem between the brilliant minds and the next tier up that utilizes the technology and again another disconnect up to the marketing and sales levels and another disconnect up to the business people like Ballmer.

Gates at least understood the technologies, and could see past the initial $$ signs if the product would be beneficial to consumers or the advancement of technology. Ballmer just doesn't seem to have this level of understanding.

Marketing has been the worst, not only with bad ad campaigns, but with a total lack of understanding of the features of the products that are consumer concepts that are fairly easy to convey.

For example: Apple did wonders with Time Machine, yet Vista had Previous Versions long before Time Machine - Microsoft marketing to this date has NEVER marketed it to consumers.

'Previous Versions' not only does the exact same features as Time Machine with versioned backups, but also because of NTFS copy-on-write abilities, can even do timelines and versions of files and folder that haven't been backup up or have changed since the last backup.

I bet a lot of people here still don't realize much about 'Previous Versions' - And it should have been a MAJOR marketing feature for Windows, even if the marketing was a response to Apple by going, "We have had Time Machine features for several years, it is nice to see Apple catch up on the backup aspect; however, Windows can go back in time on files and folders even if you don't have a backup."

Like I said it drives me insane, and I would love to spend time just educating various divisions on the technologies they have and don't realize it...

Kin was such a fail on so many levels, and instead of pulling it around and shoving the devices to WP7 or WP7 lite to save it, they instead cut losses, hurt consumers, and screwed their public image for a few $. (Ballmer should go just for crap like this alone.)

Because some companies (Apple in particular) don't like Microsoft to include a feature in Windows that they have in (put competing operating system here). Apple itself doesn't even *own* Time Machine (the copyright for TM is held by the Regents of the University of California System) and the Previous Versions Feature (since extended with restore points) dates back to (believe it or not) Windows 2000 - so not merely pre-Vista, but pre-XP. The "restore point" feature is only relatively new, and came in with Vista or Microsoft Update for XP SP2 and later.) Folks complain that Microsoft doesn't add feature X (the big complaint is the lack of a spell-check program as part of Windows' base loadout) though they are quite aware that few users use Notepad (or even WordPad, a true subset of Microsoft Word) for genuine document production - the ONLY reason that Linux generally DOES include a spell-check utility is that, more often than not, OpenOffice or a derivative (the popular derivative/alternative currently is LibreOffice) is included, and that derivative's spell-checker is the one installed (Chrome OS is, in fact, the ideal example).
Then there is still a huge amount of FUD generated about Microsoft itself and its products (operating systems, keyboards, mice, gaming consoles, etc.) - instead of spendng the extra time sorting through the crap to get the real skinny, it's just easier to go with a competing product (except after when you find out you basically got fed a line of BS and therefore made your choice under "false pretenses").

Yes, I'd like a double failburger, 2 blended failshakes with extra whipped fail, and a large order of failfries with that spicy fail dipping sauce.

I'm sorry, but designing a mobile phone that relies on a single back-end service to perform basic functions is just pure fail. Microsoft you should be ashamed.

It's not at all surprising, and it's unfortunate for the people that bought a KIN. At least they're being offered a replacement 3G phone.

KIN was neither fish nor fowl, which was the big reason why it failed. It wasn't a true smartphone (had it been, it would have been too expensive); however, it had more features than most feature phones (while being largely incompatible with them because of the additional features). VZW/Microsoft went after a market niche that largely was NOT there, despite their market research. Makes me wonder who actually DID that research.

A similar failure (makes me wonder why nobody is covering it) is the LG Ally, VZW's lowest-priced Android handset. Despite the extremely cheap (outside of sales) handset price ($29.95 with a two-year contract), it's as slow-selling as the KIN (if not slower).

PGHammer said,
KIN was neither fish nor fowl, which was the big reason why it failed. It wasn't a true smartphone (had it been, it would have been too expensive); however, it had more features than most feature phones (while being largely incompatible with them because of the additional features). VZW/Microsoft went after a market niche that largely was NOT there, despite their market research. Makes me wonder who actually DID that research.

A similar failure (makes me wonder why nobody is covering it) is the LG Ally, VZW's lowest-priced Android handset. Despite the extremely cheap (outside of sales) handset price ($29.95 with a two-year contract), it's as slow-selling as the KIN (if not slower).

There probably was a niche market. Given that it was Verizon-only, and the data plans were stupidly expensive for a non-smartphone, it's not a wonder as to how the KIN failed.

Idk about the LG Ally, but most consumers are probably use to seeing the Android brand now, and probably assume the LG Ally also is an expensive handset as such.

PGHammer said,
A similar failure (makes me wonder why nobody is covering it) is the LG Ally, VZW's lowest-priced Android handset. Despite the extremely cheap (outside of sales) handset price ($29.95 with a two-year contract), it's as slow-selling as the KIN (if not slower).

Are you sure about that? I've seen quite a few of them around, and people are happy with them. Besides, it's an Android phone with a keyboard, something that other than the Droid, isn't available on Verizon. The Android experience is the same as any other phone (except for the LG skin).

Oh I am sure Verizon will get paid back from Microsoft for the replacement phones or something
but than again how many KINs did they even sell like 150 or if even that

Ashmir said,
They should just upgrade KIN to WP7. Now you're left with a phone that sucks even more.
The specs are far too low to run WP7, unfortunately

Verizon should have never rereleased them. And Microsoft should have never allowed them to do so. People will most likely place most of the blame on Microsoft while Verizon will look like the good guy because they're offering customers a free phone.

why dont they just ask for the people to send them the phones back and they can get cash for it.

the list of stuff that its closing basically makes the phone useless.

You win some, you lose some. Micosoft seems to have rebounded quite well with Windows Phone 7. Life goes on.

Thanks for the news/opinion piece, Brad.

Not sure why they let Verizon try to sell them anyway.. all it does is **** people off who actually did buy them and sour them towards Microsoft..

osm0sis said,
Not sure why they let Verizon try to sell them anyway.. all it does is **** people off who actually did buy them and sour them towards Microsoft..

Very true. Don't understand this decision. I think Microsoft should have kept KIN Studio open until the devices come to the end of their life. I don't think they could be arsed having developers that needed to update the KIN APIs to constantly keep track of new/changed features of social networks.

It probably costs more to continue supporting the existing Kin devices for a few years (servers, development and IT staff, support rep training, etc) than it would to just give a few thousand Windows Phones out.

osm0sis said,
Not sure why they let Verizon try to sell them anyway.. all it does is **** people off who actually did buy them and sour them towards Microsoft..

I think the problem is they had the contract with Verizon requiring them to create a phone. Halfway through the project, the team got disbanded, but MS had to fulfil the contract and launch the phone even though they didn't want to.

Somehow it's not that surprising.
Talk about disabling some features, sucks for those that have one, I hope no one gets one for Christmas.

thealexweb said,
That's one fail of a product, Verizon should start contacting Kin owners now to retrieve all the phones.

I guess they will make a good door stop or paper weight. At least Verizon are offering a free 3G phone to replace the device, that's something I guess.