Verizon may revive Kin phones

Carrier may be holding a fire sale to clear out inventory, analysts say

Verizon Wireless plans to resurrect thousands of retired Microsoft Kin phones as feature phones -- without wireless data capability -- later this year, according to a leaked document on a tech Web site.

A Verizon spokeswoman would not comment Monday on the report, which appeared late last week on PPCGeeks , showing a fourth-quarter sales roadmap for various Verizon phones. In the PDF that the Web site obtained, the Kin One and Kin Two phones are renamed Kin Onem and Kin Twom.

Microsoftpulled the plug on the Kin phones in June, about two months after introducing them, probably due to poor sales.

Analysts said Verizon may be hoping to clear out a stockpile of thousands of Kin devices stored in warehouses, although they questioned the wisdom of the move since Microsoft is trying to stage a mobile comeback with its new Windows Phone 7 devices on the market.

Verizon will eventually carry at least one WP7 phone next year, but doesn't currently have a WP7 phone for sale, although competitors AT&T and T-Mobile do.

"It's a fire sale - getting rid of inventory," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "But it does deliver a mixed message in that WP7 devices are the future and these Kin devices are really a dead end."

The success of the fire sale could come down to whether Verizon sells the Kin Onem and Kin Twom at a low enough price, Gold said. Nobody has speculated on what they could cost as feature phones, although Verizon dropped the prices down to $29 for Kin One and $49 for Kin Two before Microsoft said in June it would not sell Kins in Europe and would absorb its Kin developers into its WP7 effort.

Price was a factor in the failure, and reports have indicated only about 10,000 were actually sold. Specifically, many users objected to paying for a $30 per month data plan on top of voice and text plans when the Kins didn't download apps and didn't have all the features of many other smartphones .

"A lot of the Kin phones were built and they didn't sell well largely because of the data plans," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group. By comparison, with the Microsoft Sidekick, data plans were heavily discounted, he noted.

"So this looks like an attempt to reduce the stockpile of phones," Enderle added. "They may have been sold in bulk and someone is blowing away the inventory now. Priced as a feature phone they could actually be a deal."

The tech Web site Engadget said it confirmed the PPCGeeks report and that a source had said data features won't be in the resurrected devices. That debundling of data leaves out features like the Kin Loop , which is designed to show the many things happening in a user's social world. It also excludes Kin Studio, which was highly praised for allowing users to keep a digital journal of texts, call history, photos and videos in a cloud -based server.

But evidently as a feature phone, users would still get voice and text functions as well as Wi-Fi access to Zune Pass for $15 more a month to listen to music in Microsoft's Zune Marketplace.

Analysts said that what Verizon is reportedly doing with the Kin could be used as a business school case study for what to do with a failed product. "It's either sell them for something or recycle them for parts," Enderle said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationMobile and Wirelessconsumer electronicsMobile Apps and ServicesMicrosoftat&tsmartphonesPhonesmobileVerizon Wireless

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?