Microsoft Kin on Verizon

For a fleeting second -- but not much more than that -- I was worried. Here's Microsoft, unveiling its new "Kin" (or KIN, if you ask them) dumber-than-a-smartphone, smarter-than-a-dumbphone pair of devices for Verizon and Vodafone. And here's me, imagining the following conversation:

MOM: OK, All I want is to get my daughter something that can take pictures, text, post to her Facebook and maybe that Twitter thing.

VERIZON DUDE: Sure thing, ma'am. Here's the Kin One. It's new. It's hip. It's perfect for someone your daughter's age. Facebook? No problem. Surf the Web Sure thing. She texts a lot? Well, this one (Kin Two) has a bigger keyboard, and a better camera, with a whopping 8 megapixels. Couple of swipes, and she's sharing with all her friends.

MOM: Sounds great! And it can download apps, right?


And therein lies the problem. Taking the operating system out of the equation -- be it Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, whatever -- is fine. HTC's Sense does a pretty good job of that with Android (and a really good job in Windows Mobile). Motoblur we're not nearly as smitten with, but the principle's the same. Same with Samsung's Touchwiz 3.0. Make the phone do the social networking work for you.

But take the heart out of a platform -- and these days, easily downloadable applications are the heart of any smartphone experience -- and you're left with a less-than-capable platform. Kin One and Kin Two might well be priced less than every Android phone available on Verizon. But they also will be capable of less, and that will be their downfall.


Reader comments

Should Android be worried about Microsoft's Kin One and Kin Two?


I love Android, but I can't see how this means WP7 will be a massive fail. These phones are to WP7 as what MOTOBLUR is to Android.

They're cheaper versions of their "big brother" phones, meant to concentrate more on the social networking that junior high and high school kids use more of. Just enough hardware to run the modified OS, but keep the costs down. Kids get a phone that lets them talk, text, surf a bit and check Facebook. Parents get a phone that probably won't cost them an arm and a leg.

The high-end WP7 devices will be much better than these devices. I'm curious to see what gets released at the end of this year.

Not necessarily. It really depends on a few factors. First, I've read one report that the KIN phones do not have apps. Second, it's not WinMo anymore. It's Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 7 might be based upon WinMo's codebase, but it has a completely different UI. The Metro UI is very pretty, useable, & is an amazing non-iPhone experience. Third, WP7 has apps. The apps will make the WP7 scalable.

However, I don't think WP7 is a threat to the iPhone or Android yet. However, it does present an alternative. I do think WP7 is a threat to RIM's Blackberry non business phones, Nokia, Sanyo, Palm, & many others. We'll see how it pans out.

First, no self respecting Jr. High age kid is going to want a phone called Kin. Beyond that, the whole idea of dumbing down a phone to make it appeal to kids just won't work.

What is Motorola smoking? ...or not smoking??

After looking at the actual site... Im pretty impressed with the UI on the phones. They look nice, intuitive, and responsive. The only problem I see is the lack of downloadable apps. Yea people want social networking, but theres more than just that. What about games, themes, and different apps to improve your social networking? If this is is any indication of what Windows 7 will be, they definitely seem to be headed in the right direction.

why are people confusing wp7 with kin?

the only thing that is similar b/t the two at the moment is the ability to use zune for music/video and that they both use winCE6

Kin won't be a threat to android becuase it's not positioned to compete with android, it's supposed to compete with featurephones like the env, chocolate, sidekick and the like.

although they have stated that they most likely will merge the two at some point in the futute, as of now, they are different. moreso than the motoblur skin on top of android.

if they get paired with the featurephone data plan on vzw, then i can see these being a hit in their targeted demographic.

they also run tegra internals, so they should run quite fast compared to the arm11 handsets that they are probably going to be priced against, that, coupled with the cheaper data plan would get me to buy one for my kids if i was a parent.

in short - no need to worry.

I know of someone on the windows 7 mobile development team. He is looking for another job. Why - he says microsoft doesn't get it. The direction windows 7 mobile is going is horrible. If this is how microsoft's senior developers feel about it, imagine how the public is going to receive it.

In the distant future - yes, everyone should be worried. It takes microsoft many failed attempts, but they historical (ie office, xbox, windows itself) have eventually gotten it right, and blown everyone else away. Keep in mind that the 'personal wallet' was a bigger goal for bill gates than windows itself was. It will happen and it will be microsofts, eventually.

This I find interesting. I have had an HTC phone for years and I am presently using the HTC Dream. It comes with all the bells and whistles that smartphones have to offer....App store (have not purchased 1 app - d/l a few free ones)etc...
BUT I have to say, as we are being told that without the apps its just a phone, it makes me think who is telling us we need the APPS? How many apps in the Android, iPhone and RIM marketplace? Too many...lots of useless shit... The corporations do their "job" by telling us we consistantly need to consume. Buy buy buy cause Mr.Jobs' and the rest of the CEO's say so. And there are many who drink that kool-aid on all platforms..
If you look at what this phone does (and I am not going to buy one) it pulls all aspects of social media to the phone. And from the reviews I have read, it does it better than any of the smartphones. Even if you buy an app and add that to your smartphone.

That being said, Windows will come out with a true Winmo and these phones will be the poor step-children.
But it does make you think about what it is we really need out of our phone.