Has Microsoft Really Only Sold 500 Kin Phones?

Microsoft hasn't had a successful gadget in ages. And its new line of smartphones, the Kins, doesn't look like a threat to break the losing streak. The phones are "deeply flawed" and even Microsoft doesn't seem to know what they're for, marketing them to teens even though they can't watch YouTube videos or take a crisp photo (two things that any teen who's played with their friends iPhone are likely to want to do). But is it really possible that Microsoft has only sold 500 of the crappy little phones?

This completely unsubstantiated rumor was first floated in a post last Friday on Business Insider. Since then its pinballed its way around the interwebs, with one website polling its readers to see if any of them had actually bought a Kin. (At last count, only 9-percent of the respondents had said "yes.")

The general consensus seems to be that, no, it's not possible that a partnership between the world's second-largest technology company and Verizon, a service provider with stores in every strip mall in the country, could only sell enough phones to equip a Pasco middle school. And the tech bloggers perpetuating the myth have one very obvious blindspot: they're all outside of Microsoft's intended audience of 13-18 year olds.

But when taking a closer look at the information that's available -- since Microsoft is unlikely to offer sales numbers that could dispute or confirm the rumor -- its easy to see why this tall-tale has legs.

Not only did the Kin debut to tepid reviews, it also got a price cut when it was still an infant: Best Buy slashed the cost of the Kin 2 to $50 after only three weeks on the shelves. It's smaller brother, the Kin 1, is now available for a penny on Amazon.

(It also doesn't have a single user review, which any dedicated Amazon customer can tell you only happens when your product has a narrow reach, like a lamaze book for transgendered amputees.)

Despite the firesale, Kin still has a fatal flaw when it comes to cost: at $30 a month, its data plan is prohibitively expensive for a phone that doesn't actually deal in much data. And seeing as how it's mom and dad that will be paying the bills, not the tween market Microsoft is so gung-ho to corner, it's easier to understand why a silly little rumor could provoke such kinship in all the Microsoft-hating corners of the web.

 
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