Microsoft is taking a shot at capturing some of that mid-range, feature-rich, hyper-texting, social smartphone market through its latest joint-venture with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp. The company on Monday announced KIN, a new Windows Phone designed specifically for the younger social networking set.
The services combine the phone, online services and the PC with new services called the Loop, Spot and Studio.
The Bellevue, Wash., company says KIN will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the United States beginning in May and from Vodafone this autumn in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. There were no immediate details on price.
“We built KIN for people who live to be connected, share, express and relate to their friends and family. This social generation wants and needs more from their phone. KIN is the one place to get the stuff you care about to the people you care about most,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, at a media event in San Francisco.
The home screen of the phone is called the KIN Loop, which aggregates all of a user’s social networks in real time. KIN automatically brings together feeds from Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Customers can also select their favorite people, and KIN will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds and photos.
Another new feature, the KIN Spot allows users to focus on the people and stuff they want to share rather than the specific application they want to use. Videos, photos, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates are shared by dragging them to a single place on the phone called the Spot. Once all the people and content are in the Spot to share, the user can choose how to share, and start broadcasting.
KIN Studio allows offline access to content. Microsoft says that everything created on the phone is available in the cloud from any Web browser. Photos and videos are presented in an online visual timeline so they can be viewed and shared. The KIN Studio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalized digital journal.
KIN will also feature a Zune experience, which includes music, video, FM radio and podcast playback. With a Zune Pass subscription, customers using Zune software on their PC can listen to songs from Zune Marketplace on their KIN while on the go, or load their personal collection.
Accompanying the new KIN services are KIN ONE AND KIN TWO, a couple of devices that Microsoft is billing as “a new kind of social phone.” Both phones feature a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. KIN ONE is small and compact, and TWO has a larger screen and keyboard, in addition to more memory, a higher resolution camera, and the ability to record high-definition video. The KIN ONE and TWO boast 5- and 8-megapixel cameras respectively.