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Microsoft’s Kin Aimed At Social- Network Users

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.