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It's 'kin social
April 16, 2010 1:09 AM   Subscribe

This week Microsoft unveiled the Kin, formerly Project Pink (previously), which emerged out of the troubled Sidekick (previously). Built on the same foundation as the Zune HD, making it the first in-phone use of the NVIDIA Tegra, the phones operating system is a cut-down version of Windows Phone 7 with a focus on photo sharing and social networking. Will the Kin make Microsoft cool again? Perhaps. Of course all eyes are still on the Smartphone market, and how Windows Phone 7 will compare to the iPhone. Some see a clear lead for WP7 from a developers perspective, others are more doubtful.
posted by Artw (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Tastes great!
posted by birdherder at 1:14 AM on April 16, 2010


When was Microsoft cool, again?
posted by Auden at 1:22 AM on April 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was totally feelin' the first of the ad campaign they put on Facebook, but the end was all 'Wait.. what?'
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:23 AM on April 16, 2010


I think it's a fantastic idea. Phones need to change; not everyone needs a smartphone, yet nearly all young people will use Facebook at least as much as texting.

If it's cheap - including data costs - it will sell.
posted by deticxe at 1:23 AM on April 16, 2010


The Kin One is cute. I wouldn't buy one but it's pretty.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 AM on April 16, 2010


may it have all the success of the zune
posted by p3on at 1:33 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's like the Sarah Palin of mobile phones.
posted by inconsequentialist at 1:38 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


People I know like the Zune pretty well. If you have a Microsoft machine and don't mind being tied to Windows, it's apparently nicely friendly and has excellent sound quality, which hasn't been a strong point for Apple for some time. (my first-gen iPhone, for example, sounded like total shit... I could never use it for serious music listening.) The extra features, like wireless sharing, are crippled to the point of uselessness, but the basic player is supposed to be very good indeed.

But even that crowd seems to think this thing is going to be fairly awful.
posted by Malor at 2:16 AM on April 16, 2010


BING - Bing Is Not Google
KIN - Kin Is Not
posted by three blind mice at 2:22 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it likely that any of this stuff will work reliably out in the sticks, ever?
posted by maxwelton at 2:47 AM on April 16, 2010


It offers unlimited storage in the cloud for free. That means if you click more photos than what your phone can store on the device, it just gets moved to the cloud but not deleted. Deleting anything on the phone, though, means it will be gone from both the device and the online site.

That's actually pretty cool, assuming you can also download from the cloud to whatever the Windows equivalent of iPhoto is.

It's interesting that Microsoft seem to be going for 'lots of devices/mobile platforms for different types of people' rather than taking the Apple 'one mobile platform for everyone, customised with apps' approach. Lots of the Apple blogs I read are laughing at this launch, as if debuting Kin 'phones when Windows Phone 7 is coming out soon-ish shows that MS are hopelessly confused and flailing, but I don't see why having different products for different people is intrinsically a bad idea.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 3:01 AM on April 16, 2010


I quite like it. It's not for me and it's heavily dependant on other people using the same system, but I think it's a natural direction for phones to go in. They are becoming social tools with wider application than just basic two-way communication.

What really needs to happen is for the price to come down to a reasonable level so that they can actually have these in the hands of teens all over the world. Apple's target audience is slightly more upmarket.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:03 AM on April 16, 2010


The kin ads on hulu are incredibly annoying, with some girl crossing the county to see if her online "friends" are real FRIENDS. I know there is this whole backlash against the whole facebook friending thing, but when you are selling a device that is basically social networks in your pocket it is incredibly annoying to make that kind of argument, unless you are being trite.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:25 AM on April 16, 2010


Yeah, it's exactly what I don't want, but I bet there are about a billion teenagers who do.
posted by pracowity at 3:26 AM on April 16, 2010


"It's interesting that Microsoft seem to be going for 'lots of devices/mobile platforms for different types of people' rather than taking the Apple 'one mobile platform for everyone, customised with apps' approach. Lots of the Apple blogs I read are laughing at this launch, as if debuting Kin 'phones when Windows Phone 7 is coming out soon-ish shows that MS are hopelessly confused and flailing, but I don't see why having different products for different people is intrinsically a bad idea."

I think having different products is fine, and trying to cover the non-smartphone market is fine, but OS fragmentation is very problematic. It costs Microsoft a lot more, makes them slower to respond, and confuses both consumers and third-party developers. Maybe they'll consolidate all the mobile devices around Windows Phone 7/8/9 in a couple of years or so, but in the meantime Apple and Google can march onwards with less confusion.

Clarity is important. Microsoft seems like a muddle from here.
posted by malevolent at 3:35 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's too cute for me. I want a phone that reflects my personality. I want a phone that likes Lady Gaga too much, is into homebrewing beer, is uncomfortable around strangers and won't require me to buy an internet plan.

I should really be saying that to the phone salespeople. It worked when I bought my car (PT Cruiser, BTW).
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:54 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, are they going to lose all their users' data "in the cloud" again?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:34 AM on April 16, 2010


The Kin one is cute and looked like it would feel nice in your hand, but the animation on the Kin website showing social networking looked exactly like my idea of hell. Different strokes, different folks.

In the bigger picture, I like the idea of more phones aimed at the middle ground between a basic phone and a full-on smart phone. Even though I'm not a social networker, a phone like this probably comes closer to meeting what I need than does an Iphone or Droid, where I am not going to be using 90% of its capacity.
posted by Forktine at 4:40 AM on April 16, 2010


This is dumb. The kids this is aimed at already have iPhones. The kids who can't afford iPhones are doing prepaid dumbphones until they can get an iPhone. This kin is just a bowl of cocks. MS trying once again to sell to a market segment that doesn't want to have things that are designed for it -- they want to have things that their cooler, richer, hipper friends have.

Also... 15 minute refresh on your social network? What the FUCK? 15 minutes is like FUCKING FOREVER. My god, I could hook up and break up with two guys in 15 minutes and NO ONE WOULD KNOW about it!
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:12 AM on April 16, 2010


I guess the theory is that if I'm willing to have FaceBook know everything about me, I'm willing to let Microsoft eavesdrop on that?
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


No silverlight?! What were they smoking?
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:24 AM on April 16, 2010


seanmpuckett, the folks over at Gizmodo argued the same thing about the advertising campaign in an article entitled, "Hey Microsoft: Enough with the Hipsters."
posted by Atreides at 5:50 AM on April 16, 2010


Kin? It's a terrible name, sounds like something a yokel would say "I need tah meet up with mah kin". Who picked that?

Anyway, I'm not sure what's so interesting about this. It's just a cheap phone, right? Or integrating "Social" features into a non-smartphone? Who cares? Having different products aimed at different market segments is nothing new. Since it's running a modified version of windows 7, the fragmentation won't be too bad.

But really this just seems like a non-event.

Although it is kind of annoying to see this whole "monetize people's social networks" trend. The idea of companies making money by mediating people's relationships is pretty annoying.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 AM on April 16, 2010


The resident teenager (She of the 10,000 texts a month) wasn't too impressed with it as she loves her current phone, an LG.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:07 AM on April 16, 2010


Interesting that the entire site is Flash, as opposed to Silverlight, as the Windows Phone 7 site uses.

"KIN IS COMING. SOON."

Is that Windows Phone 7 end-of-the-year-(hopefully) soon?
posted by scottreynen at 6:35 AM on April 16, 2010


10,000 texts a month

Ah, there we go, I was waiting for my daily reminder that my youth is most definitely gone.
posted by cmonkey at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


10k texts/month ~= 20 texts/hour in a 16 hour waking day. W.T.F.
posted by DU at 7:08 AM on April 16, 2010


"OS fragmentation is very problematic"

What makes you say that? I heard when you buy a new Windows 7 phone you have only a small number of choices, just like you would with Windows: Windows 7 Phone Base, Windows 7 Phone Home, Windows 7 Phone Home (Special Commemorative E.T. Edition), Windows 7 Phone Academic Edition, Windows 7 Phone Professional, Windows 7 Phone Semi-Professional, Windows 7 Phone Unprofessional, Windows 7 Phone Business, Windows 7 Phone Small Business, Windows 7 Phone Non-Profit Business, Windows 7 Phone Bankrupt Business (Special "Thanks, Wall Street!" Edition), Windows 7 Phone Ultimate, Windows 7 Phone Ultimate Frisbee... and don't forget the European versions of all of these, that don't come bundled with any Microsoft software aside from the OS!
posted by caution live frogs at 7:17 AM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Will the Kin make Microsoft cool again?
"We're going to crank social up to 11," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment division. Wrapping up the event, Bach also described KIN as "couture software for Generation Upload"—rather an odd sentiment, since couture clothing is known primarily for its absurd price.
No.

The Kin One does remind me a bit of the late unlamented Modo though.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2010


If they had actually branded it the "Troubled Sidekick", I would have been all over that shit.
posted by everichon at 7:42 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Deaf acquaintances of mine are all about the Sidekick, as much because T-Mobile offers it without a voice contract as because it's a really good device for communicating through text, chat and Twitter. None of them want iPhones because they can't type as quickly, and because AT&T doesn't allow data-only contracts.

If the Kin is a replacement for the Sidekick, then... that might be a good thing. It will also mean that touting the Zune heritage, its Welcome to the Social motif, and media capabilities will ensure it doesn't promote what the Sidekicks' userbase wants. Once again Microsoft will take a promising product and completely misunderstand its potential market. I predict MS will attempt to compensate for a tone-deaf ad campaign with overwhelming ad buys before giving up, letting it stagnate in a niche for a while and then killing it when they think nobody's looking.
posted by ardgedee at 8:00 AM on April 16, 2010


The idea of a cut-down OS for low-spec phones makes a certain amount of sense. What doesn't make sense is that Microsoft can't bring themselves to admit that's what Kin is. Instead they feel this obligation to spew marketing bullshit differentiating Kin from WinPhone 7, saying one is for "social connectors" and the other is for "lifestyle maximizers" or whatever.

I also get the impression that the two phones have unrelated codebases, which really doesn't make sense (if that's so). It's as if MS is looking for new and interesting ways to waste money.
posted by adamrice at 8:11 AM on April 16, 2010


Malor: "…excellent sound quality, which hasn't been a strong point for Apple for some time"

Huh? I'm not much of an Apple fan (I liked them better back when they were a computer company) but the iPod's audio quality has always seemed to be one of its strong points. It got picked as "Budget* product of the year" (I think that was '03 or '04) by Stereophile, of all places. This would have been the 3G model.

Has their audio quality really gone down that much since then?

* Yeah, "budget" product of the year. It is Stereophile, after all.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:15 AM on April 16, 2010


Do they really still make mobile devices with hardware keyboards? Device designers: no more hardware keyboards. Really.
posted by rusty at 8:27 AM on April 16, 2010


Errr...no, just no. That's one pink skin away from being the Barbie phone.
posted by arcticseal at 9:10 AM on April 16, 2010


Kin? It's a terrible name, sounds like something a yokel would say "I need tah meet up with mah kin". Who picked that? -delmoi


Aw man, don't hate on the kin. It's a cool word originally from Old English. No one pokes fun at the word kinship! (And cause folks don't talk the same way you do - that isn't grounds for making fun of them, either).

You're absolutely right on it being a terrible name for a phone, tho'!
posted by Atreides at 10:51 AM on April 16, 2010


The kids who can't afford iPhones are doing prepaid dumbphones until they can get an iPhone.

A lot of teens like Blackberry devices because of cheaper texting
posted by KokuRyu at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2010


Errr...no, just no. That's one pink skin away from being the Barbie phone.
posted by arcticseal


God damn it!

Can Microsoft ever stop doing bullshit like this?

This is semi-subliminal marketing for Tea Party kids who are white (actually Pink, of course) and racist, just like their Kin.
posted by jamjam at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2010


Although I use an Iphone now, I still miss the Windows Mobile/Windows CE application base. On my $200 HTC phone, I have Garmin BlueChart installed. Garmin BlueChart is a GPS marine navigation application that allows me to access nautical navigation charts on any Windows Mobile/CE device [with realtime GPS positioning, of course]. The phone also allows me to tether the GPS via bluetooth or USB cable for extensive data logging.

On the fun side, I can have NES, SNES, PSX, Commodore 64, MAME, and many more emulators, in my hand -and I can play them via a bluetooth gamepad, using the hardware buttons, or touch screen. Most of the low end machine emulators run at 100% speed, so I have portable game playing at its best. A full version of "NetHack" or the SNES's "Desert Strike" on your phone is a great time waster!

The Iphone and Android OS's do not allow for this much freedom, yet. According to XDA's comparison chart, Windows Phone 7 doesn't have much of a usable/accessible API either, so for a lot of my hardware/software hacking needs, I'll be stuck with WinCE/WinMo 6.5 and its freedom from the "walled garden" that the other OS's seem to have.

I guess my point is, I'm not excited about Windows Phone 7, unless I can run the many thousands of WinCE/WinMo applications developed over the last 10 years.
posted by ill13 at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2010


First "Zune," then "Kin" ... who the hell is choosing these names? Zune is just goofy, and Kin just doesn't roll off the tongue well. Motorola comes up with decent names for their phones, what is it about Microsoft that makes basic things like choosing a name so difficult?
posted by malapropist at 3:35 PM on April 16, 2010


Their website looks like HTML 1.0 on my iPad, and their mobile site looks like WEP. Eww.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2010


People are going to shovel all of their personal photos into the cloud attached to this, thinking it is going to be free and supported forever, and then 3 years later, like your "digital locker" or any number of other services MS has previously fronted, they will unceremoniously pull the plug on this thing.
posted by newdaddy at 7:47 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why would you trust your data on Kin in the cloud when the same company lost all this data back in October with no backups?
posted by reiichiroh at 9:07 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kin doesn't roll off the tongue? It's like one of the easiest possible CVC syllables.
posted by No-sword at 10:47 PM on April 16, 2010


Do they really still make mobile devices with hardware keyboards? Device designers: no more hardware keyboards. Really.

That didn't work so well for BlackBerry. I am not really a fan of the touch screen for a keyboard. Some of us need real keys.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:41 AM on April 17, 2010


Apparently, they had to get rid of the sexting campaign.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the Consumerist did them a favor by helping them to nix that commercial. Ugh.
posted by Atreides at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2010


Ooh, pretty.
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on April 21, 2010


Pieces of Windows Phone 7 puzzle forming attractive scene
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on April 27, 2010


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