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Microsoft knew of Kin's shortcomings ahead of launch, according to leaked focus test videos

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Wired Kin screencap
Wired Kin screencap

The Kin phones will forever be looked upon as a sore spot in Microsoft's storied history. Targeted at younger audiences, the low-end devices were met with a tepid response at retail and were pulled off Verizon shelves after just 48 days on the market. But newly uncovered focus group videos obtained by Wired reveal that Redmond was well aware of potential (and significant) hurdles that consumers identified while testing the Kin hardware. The clips were apparently recorded in December of 2009 and focused on general usage feedback; needless to say, reception wasn't positive.

In one video, participants pan the sluggish performance across both Kin devices. "I can imagine my daughter would give this back very quickly," says one man. "The phone seems to be really slow in responding and that makes it confused as to what it's doing," he adds. The camera also comes under fire. "Just bringing up the camera, it's useless for anything spontaneous," he says before concluding, "this phone would have gone back if I'd paid for it." Things don't get any better in a video focusing on the dialer. "It just can't quite keep up, it seems," offers one tester, with yet another video showcasing more evidence of dramatic lag.

Whether Microsoft sought to make any changes with the input it received is unclear, but ultimately it marched forward with its launch plans. Many of the complaints reflected in these videos would carry over to the consumer Kin One and Kin Two. From there, we all know how the story ends.