The daring fireball article did say "sold". Other comments here have indicated that Verizon were giving the units away just to get rid of them. Maybe they didn't pay MS for those. Who knows what was in their contract. Maybe MS decided to scrap the deal 2 months ago and told Verizon to dump its stock. Until Microsoft releases its Official Kin Sales Report, it's all just speculation.
I am inclined to believe Gruber. If he stakes his reputation (very important to his massively inflated ego) on a specific number, it means he's satisfied it's correct, and that's a pretty strong vote in my book. Could be wrong of course but in the absence of hard evidence I go by gut & human nature...
I have no problem believing Gruber believes it. And I have no problem believing whoever told Gruber believes it. And no offense to your gut... but there are just too many ways for numbers like these to be messed up. Maybe it was 503 on opening day. Maybe it was 503 for the state of California. Maybe someone at MS who wanted to politically annihilate the kin team and leaked some false numbers to someone honest who took them at face value. But 503 never seemed remotely plausible to my gut. As others have said, it seems like MS employees would have bought more than that. 8,000 kins on facebook - ~2,000 display models still seems like an embarrassingly small number, but at least it exists in the realms of plausibility.
This can easily be solved with MS coming out with there own number. Or verizon.
And I am pretty sure if someone told me that they had sold 503 phones, I would have asked some more questions.
"They only sold 503 phones on the weekend"
"What, for the enture country"
"Oh no, just at this one store in Arizona, and they were only open for 1 hour, and they ran out of stock".
"Oh, not so bad then"