Microsoft KIN One and TwoMicrosoft, with Verizon and Sharp, launched a new line of Windows Phones last Monday, the KIN One and KIN Two (yes, the names are not that innovative…).


This new line is aimed at young adults, and focused on the social networking. Now that the noise calmed down a bit, let’s see what are KIN all about.


The One is the same device that has been spotted several times before, known as the Turtle: a small form-factor, with slider qwerty keyboard. The Two (code name Pure) is bigger, with a more normal form-factor, sporting also a qwerty keyboard, but sliding out to the side. Besides this form-factor difference, you can check out the main specs in the table below.

KIN specs

Both have capacitive touch screens, capable of multi-touch, and good cameras with image stabilization and LED flash for low light conditions, as they are primarily intended to capture and share multimedia content, anywhere, anytime.

KIN devices were introduced as Windows Phones, but the operation system is not Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7, although some resemblances with 7 can be found on the main screen of KIN. In fact, KIN is based on Danger/Sidekick (and Sharp was the company behind many Sidekicks), not Windows CE as the 7. So, Microsoft is opening the brand "Windows Phone" to a new concept/system. KIN devices are also the first Windows Phones with Zune.

Now for the main features:
KIN Loop: the main screen, updated with your favorites news, events, web sites, social networks, etc., all in real time, and prioritized by order of importance to you.
KIN Spot: a green spot on the screen, where you can drag any content, and then choose how and with whom to share that content.
KIN Studio: your KIN web page, where almost every content on your KIN gets uploaded and backed up. You can view your photos, videos, messages and friends on any browser, and if your KIN gets lost, stolen, or broke, you don’t lose the content.

So, who would want a KIN? Microsoft claims that there is a generation that don’t want the technology to get in the way, but depend heavily on social networks, and sharing whatever happens, with family, friends, virtual friends, and "friends". For those young adults, KIN is the solution: a smart/dumb phone, finely tuned to social interaction, and not much more.
Although it seems logical, KIN have some limitations that teens or young adults would miss: a calendar program is the first to come to mind. Or a app store, for extra programs.

Besides, KIN devices need a fast always on data connection, as every content is uploaded automatically and on real-time. So, unless a data plan with lower prices than the present ones comes bundled with KIN, and the devices are sold very very cheap on such a contract, I don’t see KIN  flying of the shelves. With data prices as of present, a full smartphone like Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, and many Symbians make much more sense, as they can do so much more for the same value.

I’m betting that, if KIN really takes up, it will be amongst younger teens. Microsoft may be trying to get these new generation onboard of "Windows Phone", as a way of ensuring that when the time comes for them to upgrade to a real smartphone, they will pick up a "full" Windows Phone device.

Now, pros and cons, from a theoretical point of view, as we cannot get our hands on a KIN, yet:

Good interface
Qwerty keyboard
Good camera
Easy social networking and sharing content
Online backup (KIN Studio)
Good camera
FM radio
Battery good for a full weekend, at least

Not a smartphone
No 3rd party programs or app store
Very specifically targeted
Needs data plan, but uses it for storage, e-mail and web surfing, only
Limited onboard storage, no memory card slot

Availability: next month on the USA, next Fall for the rest of the world.

More info at KIN website.