Verizon Wireless is offering Microsoft's Kin One and Kin Two phones on its Website, officially marking the return of the previously defunct social-networking devices.
Verizon Wireless is offering Microsoft's previously defunct
Kin One and Kin Two phones via its Website, confirming earlier reports.
Having retrieved the devices from the dustbin of history, Verizon
plans to market them as feature phones. The Kin One (now branded the KIN
ONEm) will retail for $19.99, and the Kin Two (now the KIN TWOm) for $49.99,
with a two-year contract. Both phones offer access to Microsoft's Zune Pass
music-subscription service and access to social networks via the Web
Microsoft had originally developed the Kin One and Kin Two
as phones for teenagers and young adults obsessed with social networking. Both
offered their users a steady stream of updates, and allowed for the seamless
uploading of photos and data to the cloud.
Within weeks of the phones' May release, however, it became
clear that neither device was seizing the hearts and minds of its target
audience. The Kin Facebook application registered only 8,810 "monthly active
users," and rumors abounded that less than 10,000 of either Kin device had
Microsoft then pulled the plug. "We are integrating our Kin
team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and
technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases," the company wrote in
a June 30 statement.
Analysts generally laid the blame for Kin's demise on
Verizon's doorstep, noting that the carrier's data plans were likely too costly
for teenagers and budget-conscious parents. Others suggested that Microsoft
failed to clearly articulate the phones' potential advantages over competing
"Microsoft did not do an adequate job of differentiating
itself from the other vendors and defining Kin's value proposition," Jack Gold,
principal analyst of J. Gold Associates, wrote
in a July 1 e-mail to eWEEK. "I think they now realize that Windows Phone 7
has to be a big success if they want to stay in the mobile game."
But whether because it had a passive overstock or it wants
to surf a renewed interest in Microsoft mobile products sparked by the release
of Windows Phone 7, Verizon has decided to revive both the stubby, circular Kin
One and more rectangular Kin Two.
News of the Kin resurrection first appeared on the blog
posted a purported roadmap for Verizon's fourth-quarter 2010. Both Kin
phones feature prominently in that document. Additional
news sources then seized on the report, adding how the new Kin would lack
data-heavy features such as Loop, which constantly refreshed the user's
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.