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Microsoft Launches 'KIN' Social Networking Phones

Gordon Kelly


Microsoft Launches 'KIN' Social Networking Phones

We knew this was the day, and now Microsoft has finally gotten around to announcing its long awaited Project Pink social networking mobile phones...

Now officially (and dangerously - more later) renamed the 'KIN' range, the line comprises two curious looking models (both in line with previously leaked images) called the 'KIN One' and 'KIN Two'. Which is which? The bizarre squashed Pre-a-like is the One, the rounded variant of handsets HTC has been building for years is the Two.

Love/hate looks aside (remember these are 'young and hip' and we probably aren't either, so we don't get it man) the internals are potentially impressive with Tegra powered graphics, a 5MP camera and 4GB of memory inside the One and 8GB of storage, an 8MP camera and 720p recording on the Two. On the downside I'm hearing the models don't run as smoothly as you'd expect given this hardware, but with battery life designed to last a "full weekend" I suspect clock speeds have been reigned in.

Of more interest though is the software and it is here where the Kins will either live or die.

The Good: taking a leaf out of Windows Phone 7 (though built on software by SideKick maker and 2008 purchase Danger), the Kins have scrolling, graphically rich UIs with multi-touch support. They also have slick Zune HD influenced multimedia players and integrated social networking for Facebook, MySpace (remember them?) and Twitter. All content created on the phones is also automatically synced to The Cloud and this can be accessed via a desktop app meaning if you forget your phone you can still get your content and even view incoming text messages. That said, you can't make calls or send SMS.

The Bad: the whole OS is locked down meaning no apps and very limited functionality outside of media player, social networking and email. There isn't even expandable storage. Microsoft does say it will bring more functionality through OTA updates over time, but out the box it is essentially a pretty dumbphone - the posh SideKick or Chat 3G if you like.

Ultimately, I suspect whether you still 'kin care by this stage (ahhh, now we're on the same page) or not will likely depend whether you're under 18. Ultimately the handsets are fairly slick, if limited in functionality and expandability, but with such a young target audience they should come in with reasonably low RRPs.

Both KIN phones will launch on Verizon in May with an 'Autumn' release in the UK on Vodafone. Will they succeed or fail? I'd say it's 50/50. Personally I think we're looking at a bridging product here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - especially if you're about 15...




April 13, 2010, 10:57 am

So it's a phone with a Facebook, Twitter and MySpace app with an email client... I *truly* don't see how this is targeted to the teens/tweens. Not even any games? Seriously, am I missing something here?


April 13, 2010, 11:08 am

They look 'kin horrible. My 6 year old might like one though!


April 13, 2010, 11:14 am

All depends on the price.


April 13, 2010, 1:56 pm

facebook is for kids... myspace especially.

twitter... now i dont know who thats for, seems pointless across all spectrums.


April 13, 2010, 2:25 pm

I think the horizontal opening one should be called the "Kin H" and the lengthways one the "Kin L".


April 13, 2010, 3:09 pm

@Cub: So it's a phone

Is it?

"That said, you can't make calls or send SMS."

A lot of parents don't mind giving there kids phones due to them having one in case of an emergency, or were at least the parents can ring them to find were there are etc. A phone that can't make calls is surely going to fail, not from the kids POV but certainly from the parents who's money will pay for them. Also would putting facebook on a Kindle turn that into a phone, seems to me the meaning of phone has changed over the years.


April 13, 2010, 4:21 pm

@kdot - Your view. Facebook is by no means just a kids thing, it's for everybody. Myspace is more of a music networking site, although as I understand it, it's dying a slow painful death as we speak... It's an embodiment of a web developers nightmare, I can't stand it.

Twitter, however, I agree. Although it is rather popular, I know plenty of people that use it all they're all fully certified adults.

There's no reason for a kid not to have a smart phone, plenty already do... This can only go badly unless the gullible parent is still a large force out there in consumer electronics land


April 13, 2010, 4:33 pm

is Microsoft going to buy Palm? They will be real 'kin' to each other if they do.

They both look loke variations to the pre, which had a lot of attention but sadley didnt save Palm - I predict the same to MS's mobile business.


April 13, 2010, 5:02 pm

they might sell if they were launched in the UK now, but autumn is a long way away and any number of devices could have already confirmed it's place by then, or social networking could be dying out by then, I cant say I see some of the sites lasting very much longer anyway


April 13, 2010, 6:33 pm


Of course you can make phone calls and sms they're talking about the cloud desktop app

Please read the article properly.


April 13, 2010, 7:11 pm

@Keith. I think the line you quote was refering to the desktop app. It wouldn't be much of a device if it couldnt SMS or call. (I thought the same as you when I first read article)

I actually imagine this selling fairly OK. American kids loved the sidekick even though there were vastly superior phones out at the same time.


April 13, 2010, 7:14 pm

@Keith - what everyone has else has pointed out... ;)


April 13, 2010, 7:36 pm

Oops, yeah. I'll go and hide under a rug for a few days now. :)


April 13, 2010, 8:57 pm

I thought I read that these were based on WM7, but stripped down. Seems like a clever bridging device to get people into that platform. Well for a feature/dumb phone at the right price it's got potential and then when you are ready for a smartphone you get a WM7 phone (instead of iPhone/Android) as you are used to the interface. It really falls if they don't allow games however as the main market is kids.

It looks like they've got a good camera & general interface, I think the cloud backup & manager is great. Having Zune built in makes it very interesting (and interesting also to see if that means we finally get Zune in the UK).

The more I look at them the more attractive they (surprisingly) become. I mean sure they are missing a lot of things but then when iPhone/iPad/iEtc are also locked down and lacking they've still done great so perhaps these can as well. Let's see what they kin do (sorry, but I am Scottish).


April 13, 2010, 9:01 pm

Hope it's warm and comfy... @keith

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