Back in the days when Microsoft was still working on Windows Phone 7 - before the new OS had even had its first public outing - it was also developing a second mobile offering (under the codename 'Project Pink') in the form of its ill-fated Kin, a pair of devices intended primarily for younger users. Purposed primarily for media and social networking - yet limited by a closed ecosystem of curated apps - Kin was a commercial disaster, and after just 48 days on sale with Verizon, the devices were pulled from sale.
Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing, and it's easy to look back and point to various questionable decisions made by Microsoft throughout Kin's gestation. But Wired.com has obtained internal videos - from a source "who worked on the project" - that show consumers testing the two handsets before they had gone on sale, and it seems clear that there were some very obvious and glaring issues with the devices long before they hit store shelves.
Wired has around twelve minutes of audio and video content, which is well worth checking out, but here's a sample of some of the comments made:
The whole thing is very slow at responding."
It's frustrating. I can imagine my daughter would give this back very quickly."
The phone seems to be really slow in responding, and that makes it confused as to what it's doing... Like for instance, I'm in the dialler, I'm trying to hit a key; it thinks I'm trying to pan, so it doesn't do anything."
This phone would have gone back if I'd paid for it. Either of them."
The experience is all over the place. I'd like to see consistency."
The number one problem I have with this phone is performance and lag."
Almost all of the users complained about a lack of responsiveness on both devices, and in one of the videos, it's clear to see appalling lag between the user's input and the display actually responding to the buttons that have been pushed. Even with very careful, very slow inputs, in many cases, the screen simply failed to respond at all, before suddenly acknowledging multiple inputs in quick succession.
It's worth noting that those giving feedback in these sessions aren't the target demographic - they all sound far too old to be the teenagers that Microsoft hoped would find the Kin appealing. But the totally underwhelming response among buyers to the two Kin handsets makes the flaws exposed in the feedback videos even more compelling.
The whole Kin offering was fundamentally flawed in any number of ways - from the absence of a diverse app ecosystem in an iPhone world, to the curious 15-minute push-cycle for social updates (somewhat at odds with the idea of an always-connected social device) - but the final nail in its coffin was the high price plans that Verizon assigned the handsets.
Nonetheless, it's fascinating to see these new insights into just how deep the underlying flaws of the devices went.