Over the last 24 hours or so, there's been a lot of talk about Microsoft's Kin messaging phones, particularly how many Redmond managed to shift before they pulled the plug.
Microsoft announced the axing of the Kin One and Kin Two less than two months after the phones hit stores, and most people drew the same conclusion: sales must have been absolutely abysmal. Well, John Gruber (Daring Fireball) and his well-placed little birdie seem to think so. According to Gruber's birdie, Microsoft and Verizon Wireless sold just 503 Kins.
Now, 503 phones over a period of two months isn't just bad; it's awful. Woeful sales like that don't come from poor marketing, they're the result of an uninteresting product. But don't fret Kin fans (if you really do exist), things may not be as bad as they seem!
PocketNow has its own source who says Microsoft sold way more than 500. PN's source is the Kin Facebook page, which puts the number of monthly active users for the Kin Facebook application at 8,810. You can't use the Facebook for Kin from anything but a Kin, so doesn't that mean Microsoft must have sold more than 500? In fact, doesn't that mean Microsoft sold more than 8,000? Not necessarily.
The first thing to note here is that companies launching new products often dish out samples by the bucketful. Whether they're given to the press for review, or given away free at company functions (à la Google at Google I/O), it's safe to assume that a big company like Microsoft would probably go through a fair amount of Kins before the device even hit retail.
The second thing to note is that Verizon Wireless has 2,000 stores nationwide and those 2,000 stores probably have had a few Kins on display for people to try out. A sensible number of display units per store would be about three or four. Considering these units are aimed at convincing customers this is the phone for them, Verizon staff would have to download all kinds of applications to flesh out the experience and show customers what it's really like to own a Kin. Microsoft touts the Kin as a social phone, so naturally, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook would all be there. At four units per store, that brings us up to about 8,000 active devices that haven't been sold, but were just sitting in Verizon Wireless stores.
So, discounting devices given to Microsoft employees, PR people and the press, how many Kins did Microsoft sell? That's a question Ballmer and his crew have yet to address. However, if you take a look at that Facebook app fan page, you'll see that while there are 8,810 monthly users, there are only 583 fans of the page. Really, at the end of the day, it's anyone's guess as to how many Microsoft actually sold. So until someone at Microsoft is willing to step up and reveal the magic number, we're free to speculate all we like.
Do you know anyone with a Kin? Let us know in the comments below!