KIN Is No Windows Phone 7 - InformationWeek

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KIN Is No Windows Phone 7

Microsoft exec Robbie Bach says KIN is aimed specifically at social networkers who don't need all the features planned for the company's next mobile device.

Microsoft KIN Phone
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft KIN Phone
Microsoft wants to make clear that its new KIN line of phones isn't for users who want a fully functional smartphone—and that's on purpose.

The company designed KIN phones for younger users who emphasize social networking above all else, knowing that it's got another offering in the works, Windows Phone 7, that's aimed at a broader customer base that includes business professionals and more mature consumers.

"Windows Phone 7 is about simplifying people's lives," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices unit, who spoke Monday at a KIN launch event in San Francisco. "These [KIN] social phones are about amplifying their lives," said Bach.

Indeed, Windows Phone 7, due in the fall, will host mobile versions of the bulk of Microsoft's major applications and services, including Office, Bing, and Xbox games. KIN phones, on the other hand, feature an array of social networking tools but are limited to the included software and won't run external apps.

Microsoft also has no plans to release a developers kit for KIN phones.

"As we were working on Windows Phone 7 we said, wow, we have a chance to go after this specific target audience" with social networking-oriented phones that carry only a subset of Windows Phone 7 features.

The idea, Bach said, is that Microsoft can capture the broadest possible spectrum of users with KIN phones and Windows Phone 7, Bach said. "We have a cohesive strategy around Windows phones," said Bach.

KIN phones, manufactured by Sharp, will debut in the U.S. in May on Verizon Wireless, and in Europe in the fall over Vodafone's network. Microsoft did not reveal pricing plans.

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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