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7/1/2010
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KIN Price Falls To One Cent

Microsoft's ill-fated social networking phone can now be had virtually for free for users willing to commit to a contract.

Gadget fans who, if only for posterity's sake, want to get their hands on a phone from Microsoft's soon to be defunct KIN line won't have to shell out much.

Both KIN One and KIN Two are now on sale for just one penny at online retailer Amazon.com. The purchase isn't risk free however, despite the low-ball price. To get either phone for one cent users must agree to a two-year contract. It's unclear how long Microsoft plans to support the KIN line given its decision, disclosed Wednesday, to cancel the product.

KIN One was originally priced at $49.99, while KIN Two sold for $99.99

Amazon's sales data sheds some light on why Redmond decided to axe the KIN phones. KIN Two is ranked 1,575 in the retailer's cell phone category, while the less powerful KIN One is ranked 7,094. In other words, both phones turned out to be massive sales flops.

Microsoft's decision put KIN out of its misery comes less than three months after the company introduced the devices amid huge hype and a high-profile, national marketing campaign. "These [KIN] social phones are about amplifying" lives, said Microsoft Entertainment and Devices president Robbie Bach, at the time of the launch in May.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Bach announced plans to retire from Microsoft shortly thereafter.

Despite Microsoft's marketing push, KIN's somewhat unique interface never caught on. Both devices in the family—KIN One and the more feature-rich KIN Two—emphasize touch-based social networking above all else.

The phones' main interface, the KIN Loop, offers real-time feeds and status updates from Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft's own Wonder Wall, and other Web 2.0 sites. To share an item with a group of friends, users just drag it into a small circle called the KIN Spot. Graphically, the item then disappears down the circle like Alice through the rabbit hole—and it's shared.

Also, critics knocked KIN for its lack of third-party apps and comparatively pricey service plans. Microsoft recommended that KIN users subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan, which starts at $39.99 per month, and a Verizon Wireless Email and Web for smartphone plan, which starts at $29.99 per month.

KIN One is the lite version. It's got a smaller keyboard, a 5 megapixel camera, and 4 GB of storage. KIN Two's keyboard is meant for two-handed texting, and it includes an 8 megapixel camera and 8 GB of storage. Both feature a built-in media player powered by Microsoft's Zune software.

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