Updates to this story
It has been revealed that Microsoft's Kin phone had only sold 503 units in the entire world before the company decided to scrap it.
The shockingly bad sales were disclosed by an unnamed Microsoft employee, who spoke to Jay Yarrow at Business Insider.
The employee, who may not be an employee for long if the Vole gets its claws into him, is reported as saying: “We had a huge launch party on campus and I bet that party cost more than the amount of revenues we took in on the product. As an employee, I am embarrassed. As a shareholder, I am pissed.
"It’s one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it’s something else to launch. I suspect we launched because we felt like we HAD to so we could save face because we were trying to build buzz, but overall — HUGE fail.”
Then John Gruber from Daring Fireball revealed that “they sold a grand total of 503 Kins before they pulled the plug.” Even for a phone as badly designed and marketed as the Kin was, that's an atrocious amount of sales. It makes it very clear why Microsoft killed it off so soon, because it had already cost a lot of money and is set to be one of its greatest embarrassments for years to come.
While the exact figures are paltry for a tech giant, it's not that surprising that the Kin was a failure. Even as far back as April there were complaints about a 15 minute cut-off, which isn't exactly what a phone user wants.
If that were not enough, however, the entire approach to the phone and how it was marketed also contributed to the disastrous sales. It was sold as a “cheap smartphone” though there was nothing smart about it and aimed at teenagers, but it could never compete with real players on the market like the iPhone, Android-based phones, or a Blackberry.
It also carried an outdated version of the Windows Phone operating system, had poor features, and no app store, making it vastly inferior to the competition and really not much more than a normal phone. Even a massive price cut for the phone itself could not save it.
Probably its most fatal flaw, however, is Verizon, its US carrier, wanting $30 a month for a contract, which is just as dear as a proper smartphone and much more expensive than an average school-going teenager with no income can really afford.
Kids with posho parents probably already have an iPhone 4 anyway.
When you market a phone for a certain audience and then exclude that audience by making a contract that they cannot pay you're bound to end up in a situation where you sell only 503 units.
It's a 'Kin disastrous result. Stick with software, Microsoft.