SAN FRANCISCO--The fact that Microsoft and Verizon picked a nightclub to launch the Kin tells you a lot about their target market.
The short and squat Kin One and the wider-screened Kin Two are two shapes for the same idea--the mobile phone for those who want to broadcast their every thought, sight, and sound--"lifecasters," as Microsoft's Robbie Bach called them. Although many phones have Facebook or Twitter applications, social networking is at the heart of the Kin. Sharing has its own dedicated green button and is at the center of the Kin experience.
The target demographic is men and women between 15 and 30, said Bach, who runs Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices unit. The two companies said the phones would launch next month, but didn't say exactly when during the month, nor would either company talk at all about pricing.
Aside from their shape, the two devices are very similar. Both are touch-screen sliders running the same software. The Kin Two has a better camera (8 megapixels versus 5MP), double the memory (8GB versus 4GB), and a bigger screen.
These aren't a run at the iPhone. Bach stressed that Microsoft's general smartphone play is the Windows Phone 7 operating system, which will start showing up on devices this fall. In fact, there's not even an app store for Kin users to go to, although Microsoft and Verizon can push updates or add-on programs themselves over the air.
There are several key things built into the Kin, including the first phone implementation of the Zune service. The phones can play Zune video and music that is loaded onto the device from a PC, and Kin owners can also stream music over the air while they're on the go. … Read more