Mobile
Commentary
5/13/2010
12:59 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Microsoft And Verizon Defend Kin Data Plan Charges

After the Kin rate plans from Verizon were announced, many of us in the world of mobile devices had to rub our eyes to make sure we were seeing the numbers correctly. This is a phone that seems to be aimed squarely at teens and people right out of college, yet Verizon basically has a $70 per month minimum charge for the device. Now the mobile partners are left to defend the pricing.

After the Kin rate plans from Verizon were announced, many of us in the world of mobile devices had to rub our eyes to make sure we were seeing the numbers correctly. This is a phone that seems to be aimed squarely at teens and people right out of college, yet Verizon basically has a $70 per month minimum charge for the device. Now the mobile partners are left to defend the pricing.The mere fact that they are having to explain the value to you tells you the value isn't much of a deal. The minimum voice plan is $39.99 per month and the data plan is the same they charge smartphone owners, $29.99. On top of that, this is a Zune device so one of the selling points is the $14.99 monthly plan for a Zune Pass, a service that lets you download basically any song in the Zune store and keep it on your device as long as you keep paying the monthly fee. That means you could spend $85 per month on this device. How many kids do you know with that kind of disposable income?

FierceWireless has listed the arguments that Microsoft and Verizon are using to justify the data plan cost. Keep in mind that $30 per month is the same as a smartphone, yet the Kin is not a smartphone. It is a high end feature phone. Very high end. Microsoft is trying to say it really sits between the smartphone and feature phone, but honestly do we really think there is reason to develop a class between the two phone strata? Either the Kin is a high end feature phone or a crippled smartphone. Whatever you call it, it is not a smartphone, so why the smartphone pricing for the data plan?

Apparently it is the cloud that justifies it. You cannot install apps on the device as you can on a smartphone, so there is no real feature expandability available, therefore there is no bandwidth needs for downloading apps. There is also no risk to Verizon of adding apps that are bandwidth hungry. What you get on the device is pretty much it. The reason for the charge though is photos and videos are geotagged and time stamped. Those are then automatically uploaded to the Kin Studio, along with all of your other important data like contacts and text messages.

So? You'd have to be taking a ton of pics and video to come close to the bandwidth a smartphone consumes, especially since Microsoft's own Windows Mobile platform does this very same thing with the My Phone service. In fact, I think the My Phone service and Kin Studio share the same ancestry from the Danger Sidekick service that keeps all of your T-Mobile sidekick data in the cloud. You know, things like photos, texts and contacts. I am honestly not sure if the Sidekick supports video. I know that WinMo devices do though and My Phone gobbles all of that data right up.

So now the Kin and WinMo 6.x devices have similar cloud storage services, yet WinMo devices can also install apps, some of which are bandwidth hungry, like the Slingbox client or streaming radio. The Kin cannot.

Why is it then worth the same $30 per month charge for data again?

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