Microsoft’s Kin Aimed At Social- Network Users

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REDMOND, WASH. — Microsoft took the wraps off the Kins last week, two mobile phones the company said are designed for social-network users.

But how they will stack up against fellow smartphones will depend on how Verizon Wireless prices their data plans, according to Ross Rubin, industry analysis director of The NPD Group.

The Kin phones — the 4GB Kin One and 8GB Kin Two — are the result of a partnership with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp, and they will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. beginning in May, Microsoft said. Vodaphone will carry the device in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom in the fall.

Although the Kins do not feature operating systems that are open to third-party developers, and therefore do not exactly fit the defi nition of a smartphone, Rubin said, they will likely face competition from the Droid Eris, the Palm Pixi and the Motorola Devour in addition to the iPhone.

“The prospect depends a lot on how Verizon prices the device and service … Verizon did not come out and say standard data pricing would apply to the Kin, which holds out some chance it will create special service pricing, somewhat like AT&T did with the iPhone,” said Rubin.

Both Kins come with touchscreens and slide-out keyboards, but Kin One is more compact and meant for one-handed use while Kin Two comes with more advanced features, including the ability to record high-defi nition video in 1,280 by 720 resolution. Both phones’ cameras (5 megapixels for Kin One and 8 megapixels for Kin Two) come with image stabilization and LumiLED flash. The Kin One has a 2.6-inch screen and the Two has a 3.4-inch screen. Further specs, including size, weight and pricing were not being provided at this time, a Microsoft spokesperson told TWICE.

They will be the first phones with the Zune media player on them, Microsoft said, and buyers can use a Zune Pass subscription to download music and video content. Kin One has a mono speaker while Kin Two comes with stereo speakers.

Meant for social-network enthusiasts — or “Generation Upload,” as Rubin termed them — the Kin’s interface is said to bring together feeds from Microsoft, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter into one location.


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