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Kin One

Kin Two
Kin phones are priced like smartphones but lack smart features

Rumblings about Microsoft's new mobile phones started a while back when what was first dubbed "Project Pink" was unveiled as the Kin One and Kin Two handsets.

Both of the Kin devices are now available on the Verizon network. Microsoft claims the devices blend phone, online services, and the PC experience into one device. Both Kin handsets have slide-out QWERTY keyboards and touch screens. The Kin devices are designed for easy social networking and other features. The Kin One has a 5-megapixel camera and the Kin Two has an 8-megapixel camera that can shoot HD video in low light and post that video online with a single touch.

The Kin devices are also the first Windows Phones to offer a Zune experience with music, video, FM Tuners, and Zune Pass subscription capability. Bing offers local and web search on the devices and they support all popular email services. The Kin One will sell for $49.99 and the Ken Two sells for $99.99. Both of those prices are after a new contract and a $100 mail-in rebate.

Engadget went hands on with both of the devices for a review and found the camera was better on paper than the real world. Engadget wrote, "Once we could get the phones to snap a picture, the results were mixed at best. With the flash on or set to auto, the pictures ended up almost universally blown out, sometimes just revealing themselves on review as a white blur."

In the end 
Engadget says, "If a great price could cancel out the faults of these phones (which it can't) -- Microsoft and Verizon have failed there as well. The One and Two are being offered for $49.99 and $99.99 respectively after a $100 mail-in rebate... and they must be coupled with a standard Verizon smartphone plan, which clocks in at $29.99 a month."

Gizmodo also reviewed the devices and liked them a bit more, but still thinks they are overpriced putting them in the same realm as a smartphone without the smart capabilities. Gizmodo wrote, "This bizarre pricing will make potential Kin buyers' minds jump from messaging phones, which the Kin compares favorably to, to thoughts of smartphones, with app stores and full mapping and real browsers... The stuff that you might not consider if you were considering a phone like the Kin in the first place—overkill!—but which Verizon has made you consider by not giving these handsets the pricing they deserve, instead opting to pit them against monstrous foes, endangering the Kin concept, and slowing our inevitable progress toward cloud services like Studio."

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MS trying too hard.
By NubWobble on 5/5/2010 9:32:39 AM , Rating: 5
slowing our inevitable progress toward cloud services like Studio

They can slow that 'inevitable' process to absolutely nothing, because cloud computing can die in a fire, together with all its proponents.

And WinMo 7? Who wants another Apple-style OS?

RE: MS trying too hard.
By Brandon Hill on 5/5/2010 9:36:09 AM , Rating: 5
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Windows Phone 7 doesn't look or seem to function/interact in any way similar to the iPhone OS -- at least from a UI perspective.

Android, maybe so, but definitely not Windows Phone 7.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By Anoxanmore on 5/5/2010 9:37:21 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't mind some winmo 7 lovin' :)

I'm going to have a hard time picking a phone this winter.. I can see it.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By dani31 on 5/5/2010 10:01:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think he meant the UI, but the business model.

WinPho7 is proprietary like the iPhone OS and will be licensed to manufacturers for money, Android is open sourced and licensed for free.

WinPho7 UI cannot be customised (like the iPhone), Android can.


RE: MS trying too hard.
By omnicronx on 5/5/2010 10:31:58 AM , Rating: 3
Your entire post contradicts itself, neither of the three have the same business model.

Apple is closed platform, sells their own hardware.
Microsoft is closed platform, licenses to manufacturers.
Google is an open platform(kind of) and licenses to manufacturers for free.

Each one is a different business model and has its advantages/disadvantages.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By GaryJohnson on 5/5/2010 1:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
Google is an open platform(kind of)

What do you mean "kind of"?

RE: MS trying too hard.
By oab on 5/5/2010 1:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
Individual phone vendors can lock you in to updates by creating their own custom Android UIs.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By GaryJohnson on 5/5/2010 1:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
You don't have to use the vendor's UI if the phone can be rooted.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By NubWobble on 5/5/2010 12:00:59 PM , Rating: 1
It may be different but MS are doing exactly what Apple are doing with the proprietory OS and app store. Win Mo 7 doesn't support Flash or multitasking and the UI can't be customised.

I am sticking with my Win Mo 6.5 Omnia II as it does everything I need it to do.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By sticksabuser on 5/5/2010 10:11:14 AM , Rating: 2
WP7 does ot have and iPhone ui design. It has something else that I don't get yet, but it sure isn't iPhoney.

I do agree that MS tried too hard to build the image, however didn't try hard enough to finish the software.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By Smilin on 5/5/2010 1:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
The Kin interface is nothing like WP7.

WP7 is going to share a lot more in common with the Zune HD than anything else...and that is one awesome interface for a portable device.

RE: MS trying too hard.
By CZroe on 5/5/2010 11:24:26 AM , Rating: 2
It stores things in and retrieves things from "the cloud." Last time I checked that was completely different from "cloud computing."

By damianrobertjones on 5/5/2010 10:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
Heck, when the iPhone arrived, it lacked certain features that had been mainstream for a number of years, but, for some reason, they sold like hot cakes (After the initial price drop)

New phones arrive and they are smacked for missing features. In this case, probably due to quite a few negative articles, I seriously don't think they will sell.

Once again, marketing wins over the actual products merit.

RE: Word
By theapparition on 5/5/2010 10:56:28 AM , Rating: 3
In this cases, it's the actual package that has a problem. The Kin devices are a step above messaging phones, but no where near smartphone level, yet are being saddled with the same data plan costs. $30 extra over two years (not including text messaging) adds $720 to the cost equation, all for something that gives you less.

If Verizon gave them the $10/mo data plan, I'd see them selling better.

And what's up with Engadget's review. All they care about is the camera?

RE: Word
By MozeeToby on 5/5/2010 11:41:53 AM , Rating: 3
I assumed based on the specs and target use that they would be getting the cheaper data plan. Why would someone buy one of these when they can get an Android for $50 if the data plan is going to cost just as much? I honestly think that it was Verizon that dropped the ball on this one more than Microsoft.

RE: Word
By mcnabney on 5/5/2010 2:49:46 PM , Rating: 3
You can get Android for $50, a Pre for $30, and I think the Pixi is free now.

If they have the same data cost there is absolutely no reason to buy these. They have smaller screens, lack key email features, and lack an app store. I thought there were supposed to be feature phones and use the lower data cost. Yeah, this is going to crater.

RE: Word
By strikeback03 on 5/6/2010 4:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
Considering Verizon gives you nothing for the $10 you pay on a feature phone data plan, I can't see them offering phones like these which would actually be using data (esp if uploading lots of pics and video) at that same price. Though they probably need to create a $20 data plan to make these more attractive.

RE: Word
By hiscross on 5/5/2010 11:33:52 AM , Rating: 2
"Heck, when the iPhone arrived, it lacked certain features that had been mainstream for a number of years, but, for some reason, they sold like hot cakes (After the initial price drop)"

The iPhone sold so well because it redefined how a person could interat witha phone. It is true that touch technology was available in mobile phones before the iPhone came out, but their interfaces were horrible at best. Even after a number of phones started using touch did they offer a good user experience. Remember how bad the 1st touch RIMS were?

Just keep in mind that Apple products do so well because people who buy them really appreciate a good user experience. Sadly, the rest of the industry still thinks like a mainframe with a Windows 1.0 interface. I also wonder how long Google will give away thier OS. That seems like a dumb buisness plan to me.

RE: Word
By Sazar on 5/5/2010 11:53:06 AM , Rating: 2
Giving away Android == increasing market share and having the ability to generate revenue from applications == a decent enough strategy for now.

RE: Word
By hiscross on 5/5/2010 12:39:48 PM , Rating: 1
The Housing Industry has huge market share (compared to rentals) and they have been tanking since 2007. Market share doesn't equal success in terms of profit. It is the margins that matter the most. Googles current mobile OS business model is a sure failure in motion.

Zune Phone
By lightfoot on 5/5/2010 12:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
4 and 8 GB of storage seems a tad light for what is essentially a Zune Phone.

I'd be somewhat interested if it had any one of the following three things:
More storage.
More functionality.
No required data plan.

RE: Zune Phone
By Smilin on 5/5/2010 1:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
No required data plan...But you still want to surf the web and download from Zune?

I mean look I'd be happy if the thing coughed up dollars every time you shake it but..

RE: Zune Phone
By lightfoot on 5/5/2010 2:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
No required data plan...But you still want to surf the web and download from Zune?

Surfing the net and downloading files has nothing to do with a required data plan. There are several options available to people who don't have data plans. Wi-Fi, buying an optional data plan, and in some cases doing a prepaid data plan. Microsoft would also be wise to partner with Verizon and do free data for music downloads from the Zune store (similar to how Amazon does the Whispernet on the Kindle.)

At $50 or $100 a phone doesn't need to be a smartphone to be worth it. If it were just a basic phone with a Zune quality music player it would still be a good value. It is the data plan that makes the price seem excessive.

RE: Zune Phone
By Smilin on 5/6/2010 10:37:57 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah I see what you mean. I don't think I have a gripe with it needing a data plan (that makes sense)...I just have a gripe with what the data plan costs.

But the good news... it's a *verizon* data plan. Expensive sure, but fast and reliable (in my experience).

I also get a bitching discount on data plans from my work.

RE: Zune Phone
By Smilin on 5/7/2010 10:08:43 AM , Rating: 2
Someone pointed out something to me about this..

You basically only need the onboard storage for permanent (non zunepass) music.

Everything else including the HD vidoe and big assed 8 megapixel pictures are immediately whisked away to the cloud.

Still not huge storage but on par with the Zune 8 that I'll be replacing with this. (pry my Zune HD from my cold dead hands)

I'd be interested if...
By nafhan on 5/5/2010 9:53:44 AM , Rating: 2
It was free (rebate would be OK) and didn't require the data plan. My wife and I would both like to have something smartphone-like on Verizon that doesn't require me to pay for the data plan. So, I agree the reviewers.
The price of the phone will drop, but I don't think the no data plan thing will happen. Verizon has really been pushing the data plans lately. I haven't upgraded because I currently have a smartphone with no data plan, and if I upgrade I'm either going to have to drop the smartphone or pay for the data plan. Despite how great the network is, I've been thinking of checking out Sprint. I'd be able to get unlimited text and data for the same price I'm paying now with no data plan.

RE: I'd be interested if...
By mcnabney on 5/5/2010 2:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
You can buy a lot of dog food for the same price as a steak dinner. Hey, maybe you will get lucky. The Sprint network is bound to work somewhere. It doesn't in Kansas City, which is kind of embarrassing because that is their headquarters.

If only...
By Pod2 on 5/5/2010 10:11:31 AM , Rating: 2
There are rumours of a Free Use (FU) version, although it's features are cut down (Lite).
It's likely to be called:

FU Kin L

RE: If only...
By acase on 5/5/2010 11:11:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have an Advance free use version: FU Kin A

Zune pass wireless
By MadMan007 on 5/5/2010 10:06:10 AM , Rating: 2
If it's possible within bandwidth constraints to stream music Zune Pass on a wireless mobile device would be pretty interesting. Too bad the 'unlimited' data plans are falsely advertised.

Pricing really that high?
By strikeback03 on 5/5/2010 10:09:51 AM , Rating: 2
Seems like with all the sharing and music features these phones are designed to use a lot of data, much closer to smartphone levels (on verizon, $30/mo) than featurephone levels ($10/mo). so if they were going to introduce a lot of similar phones maybe they could introduce a new tier of data plan. But ultimately these seem to be in line with what other high-end non-smartphones have launched at on Verizon, IIRC phones like the enV Touch were around $100 when they launched.

The bulk of Verizon's phones (both smartphone and not) are at less than $100 right now anyway. The feature set of the Kin phones seems a bit odd to begin with, seems like they are basically smartphones missing some features, so when a phone like the Pre Plus already costs much less than a phone like the enV Touch (before data plan) what do you do with something like the Kins?

By funkyd99 on 5/5/2010 11:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
At $50 and $100, these phones are cheap. It's the network that's expensive, and that's what you get with VZW. They require a data plan on all but the most basic phones. Probably part of the reason they've gained almost no new subscribers in Q1 of 2010...

Data Plan
By Smilin on 5/5/2010 11:16:15 AM , Rating: 2
I've no gripes about the data plan. I get a decent discount from work which helps too.

Surfing and email aside, I've got a Zunepass so being able to pull down any music I want on the fly more than justifies the data plan. a couple smartDJ picks and it will be just like Pandora except I get to KEEP the music.

This is for the Mrs. She could care less about most smartphones but she digs her Zune and loves to text and facebook. I'm holding out for the Windows Phone 7 myself.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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