Microsoft will debut its Kin One and Kin Two phones in stores May 13. While the devices are targeted at a social-networking-happy demographic, their high monthly price for calls and data could put them out of reach of teenagers and younger users. Reports indicate that Microsoft may eventually merge the Kin platform with Windows Phone 7, scheduled to debut near the end of 2010, which would in theory allow Kin users to download mobile applications. Analysts say Kin phones will need a number of factors to work in their favor to succeed.
Microsoft's Kin phones, designed to appeal specifically to a younger demographic
interested in social networking, are due to debut in stores May 13. Carried
exclusively in the United States by Verizon, the Kin One and Kin Two
include hardware and applications meant to deliver a constant stream of updates
and other social data to the user-but the high monthly price for the devices
might prevent many members of the target demographic, such as teenagers, from
The Kin One will retail for $49.99 and the Kin Two for $99.99, after a $100
mail-in rebate with a two-year service plan. Talk plans start at $39.99 per
month, while e-mail and Web for Smartphone plans start at $29.99 for unlimited
The Kin One's form factor mirrors that of the similarly rounded Palm Pre,
with both a touch screen and a sliding QWERTY keyboard, while the Kin Two has a
more rectangular shape along with the same input features. They are, for lack
of a better term, cute.
That monthly connectivity price may seem pretty steep for a phone that lacks
a good deal of smartphone functionality, but some reports are indicating that Microsoft
could eventually merge
the Kin platform with its upcoming Windows Phone 7
making the Kin One and Two a more economical proposition in the process by allowing Kin owners to download mobile applications. Such a
transition would presumably occur after Windows Phone 7 makes its debut near
the end of 2010.
Moreover, reviews for the Kin devices have been mixed; there has been praise
for Kin Studio, which uploads user content to the cloud, but tech Websites have
expressed qualms about the user interface, the slow pace of downloading new
social networking updates and a handful of hardware issues.
That could spell trouble for the Kin, which needs all those elements to work
in concert in order to attract users in a crowded smartphone field.
"Success will depend on how well Studio and Windows Live support
integrate with the phone, and since only Microsoft can deploy a new service to
the device, how well it does so is critical," Jack Gold, principal analyst
of J. Gold Associates, wrote in an April 13 research note. "Success will
also depend on what types of service plans are available, how they're priced
and how good the service is (i.e., the AT&T/iPhone fiasco would be a killer
for Kin). Finally, what specialized services will the carriers offer to try and
garner some of the potential cloud revenue?"
Vodaphone will take over carrier duties for the Kin when the devices appear
in Germany, Italy,
Span and the United Kingdom
later in 2010.