Leaks Expose Rebirth of Microsoft Kin Not-So-Smartphone
By John P. Mello Jr.
Two feature-challenged smartphones designed by Microsoft for younger mobile users look like they will be revived by Verizon. An internal Verizon document leaked to PPC Geeks shows the phones, the Kin ONEm and Kin TWOm, as part of the company’s upcoming product lineup. Both units have touchscreens, full Qwerty keyboards, and support Zune Pass, Microsoft’s music service. The ONEm has a 5-megapixel camera and 4GB of internal memory; the TWOm, an 8-megapixel camera, which records HD video, and 8GB of memory.
The reappearance of the phones is surprising since Microsoft announced in July that it was quitting work on the platform to concentrate all its resources on Windows Phone 7, which launched this month. “We are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases,” Microsoft stated at the time.
In its attempt to cater to younger mobile users–teens, tweens and twenty somethings–it apparently created a product that appealed to nobody. The phones were more powerful than feature phones, but less powerful than smartphones, yet they were priced more like smartphones than feature phones. That pricing included a minimum data plan of $29.95 a month. The new Kins will be completely cut loose from a data plan, according to Engadget. Moreover, as a feature phone, lower cost plans are available to consumers, plans in the $10 to $15 range.
The revival idea may not be Microsoft’s. Betanews, citing unnamed sources, reported that Microsoft, when it walked away from the project in July, handed over all the updates to Verizon. “If we gave them all the technology, they could run with it on their own,” the source said.
Some skeptics doubt that the Kin is being revived at all. They maintain that all Verizon is
doing is clearing inventory.
If the phone is being revived and Microsoft is behind it, maybe it’s Redmond’s “Plan B,”
should Windows Phone 7 flop, added one web wag.