Microsoft Nixes KIN; Apple Sued over iPhone 4 Antenna

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It’s been a rough week for mobile phone makers.

Microsoft has pulled its KIN phones from the market only two months after it began selling them due to low demand which CNET estimates at between 1,000 and 10,000 units, according to one source.

Separately, several iPhone 4 users filed suit against Apple over the unit’s finicky antenna (see below in this post).

Microsoft’s swift pullback on the KIN was a surprise to many industry members.

“It’s an absolute failure,” Forrester Research analyst told the New York Times. He was surprised to see Microsoft kill a product so quickly, given the company’s history of sticking with new products and improving them over time.

Microsoft will also kill the European launch for the KIN. And the KIN team members will now work on Windows Phone 7 due later this year.

Microsoft had invested heavily in the KIN phones, purchasing the company Danger, and launching a sizable TV ad campaign for the KIN One and KIN Two social media phones aimed at the younger “texting” audience. But while the KIN was attractively priced, it required a pricey data plan. The product had unique features such as the ability to store photos and media in the Cloud and the inclusion of Zune but the phone was complex to operate and sluggish, said CNET, which gave it 3 stars out of 5.

The demise of the KIN is the latest debacle at Microsoft’s consumer unit. It recently nixed its Courier tablet PC before bringing it to market, after 5-years of tablet development, said reports. Top execs at the division, Robbie Bach and J Allard both left the company in May (replaced by Andy Lees).

Verizon had recently slashed the price of the KIN ONE single handed slider to $29 from $49 and the higher end KIN TWO to $49 from $99 to $49.

For its part, Apple may find its problems with the sensitive antenna on the iPhone 4 are not quietly going away.

The company has been sued by consumers accusing the company of unfair business practices and false advertising, reports Bloomberg.

Separate complaints by a N.J resident and MA. resident were filed in federal court in San Francisco, each seeking to broaden into a class-action, or group lawsuit. A third complaint was filed in MD.

Numerous users complained on web sites after the iPhone 4’s June 24 launch that the phone produced dropped calls if a user held it a certain way.

“Apple’s sale of the iPhone with this unannounced defect, assuming Apple’s prior knowledge of the defect, constitutes misrepresentation and fraud,” Christopher Dydyk of Cambridge, MA., said in his complaint. “In omitting to disclose the defect in the iPhone 4, Apple perpetrated a massive fraud upon hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting customers.”

Dydyk, in his complaint, said Apple should ship free bumpers to customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 4.

The MD. Complaint says Apple and AT&T “actively suppressed and concealed the fact that the iPhone 4 could not be held in a manner consistent with the normal usage of wireless communication devices.” They seek unspecified damages and a jury trial.

Apple, issued a statement recommending users hold the phone a different way or buy a rubber “bumper” case to solve the antenna problem.

Source: CNET, The New York Times, Bloomberg via BusinessWeek

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