Microsoft recently hosted a special event where they finally revealed the worst kept secret in mobile technology, their Microsoft Kin – previously known as Project Pink – line of phones aimed at teenagers. Two very Sharp devices.
The pair of phones, both manufactured by Sharp, are web-enabled and have been dubbed, somewhat lazily, Kin 1 and Kin 2. Microsoft predicts these touchscreen phones will appeal to their target demographic by having a huge focus on social aspects of the web, from social networking to content sharing.
Loop, Spot, Studio
Kin’s primary differentiators from Windows Phone 7 Series devices are Kin Loop, Kin Spot and Kin Studio, while they do borrow from the same great Zune Marketplace integration headed for MS’s OS.Kin Loop acts as a central, single-page hub for following all your social network contact across Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and whichever other networking sites you use. The concept is very similar to what Motorola has been trying with its Motorola Blur function.
Kin Spot is the place where users can share information with their friends, such as location, pictures, and links to webpages. Kin Studio, finally, is a nifty little web-based service that backs up all the content created on the Kin device, such as images snapped, videos recorded and messages shared. This content is organized in a timeline, so users can access their content according to when it was created.
Fantastic Zune integration
One of the major surprises of the Windows Phone 7 Series was how well Microsoft services like Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live were integrated. Kin borrows this concept by integrating the device into Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace, which on initial inspection is blisteringly quick. Zune Marketplace, with its £10 monthly subscription model to an unlimited library of music, is a great example of Microsoft beating Apple at its own game.Early impressions show that tech bloggers are in agreement that the phones are very well-built and have very accomplished touchscreen interfaces, though they try to do too much at once, inadvertently making the experience uncluttered and unpleasant.
However, one needs to bear in mind that tech bloggers are not the target market, and how much traction the Microsoft Kin phones will have with teens will only be seen once teens get their hands on them. Moreover, it will be interesting to see if teens are really looking for phones aimed at them as opposed to the Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and other smartphones everybody else is focusing on.
The Kin 1 and the Kin 2 will be available on Verizon in May, with Vodafone availability scheduled for later, meaning the UK may get these handsets yet. Look forward to a thorough review of the Microsoft Kin devices closer to the release date.