Microsoft Releases The “Kin” Phone To Fight The iPhone

When it comes to smartphones, if you’re not RIM (Blackberry), Google (Android), or Apple (iPhone), your an afterthought. Just look at Palm and the troubles they’ve had. Microsoft has been in that category for a while now, but they’re trying to change that. Today Microsoft released the “Kin” smartphones on the Verizon network in the U.S. and Vodafone in Europe. Their press release tells you what Microsoft intends for these phones:

“Working closely with our partners, we saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation — a phone that makes it easy to share your life moment to moment,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “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.”

Okay. That’s pretty much what every smartphone vendor aspires to. There’s gotta be more to it, and there is:

  • These phones have a version of the Zune software. So they can play video and music that is loaded onto the device from a PC, and Kin owners can also stream music over the air while they’re on the go. Zune? Are they kidding? The Zune devices haven’t set the world on fire, what makes Microsoft think that this will help?
  • There’s a web browser on the phone. Ho, hum.
  • A camera with Geotagging capability is included on the phone. Nothing new there, but it’s an 5 or 8 megapixel camera (depending on the model) so at least that is half decent.
  • The phone automatically brings together feeds from leading Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter together in one place. Gee…. Isn’t that what the WebOS promised? Look how well that worked out.
  • Anything that is on the phone gets transmitted to “Kin Studio” which is a cloud based app that allows your friends and enemies to see everything you do. Since it also backs up your contacts and the like, I hope it has better reliability than the Sidekick for the sake of their users.
  • Kin users have access to the “Kin Spot” which according to Microsoft “is a new way for people to share what’s going on in their world. It lets them focus first 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 simply 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 consumer can choose how to share, and start broadcasting.” Oh yea.

There’s no pricing mentioned, but they’ll be available next month. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can gain any traction with these phones so that they are a credible alternative to the iPhone, or will they be as popular as the Zune.

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