New MS phones aim at the younger crowd

New MS phones aim at the younger crowd

New MS phones aim at the younger crowd

The Kin One and Kin Two allow users to keep closely synched with sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The start menu displays a montage of photographs from friends with notes about what they are doing rather than a more traditional menu that caters to phone functions. The Kins also have touch screens, links to the Zune music service and high-powered cameras for capturing photographs and video.

“This is aimed at 15 to 30-year-olds who are social-networking enthusiasts,” said Robert J Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, who introduced the phones at a news conference here Monday.

Phone makers like Nokia and Samsung have long built a variety of models, including those aimed at younger buyers, many of which also link to social-networking sites. But in its focus on social networking, Microsoft has taken one of the more aggressive stances in going after this market, which the company believes is receptive to a fresh pitch. Microsoft could use a runaway cellphone product since it has been steadily losing market share despite selling mobile software for far longer than Apple.

Designed as per costumer’s taste
The Kin One is square and fits easily in the palm of a hand. A full keyboard slides down at the bottom of the phone. The Kin Two has the more familiar rectangle shape, an eight-megapixel camera (up from five megapixels on the One) and can take high-definition videos.

Verizon Wireless has an exclusive deal in the United States for the Kins, made by Sharp; the phones are to go on sale in May for an undisclosed price. Vodafone will sell them in Europe. Kevin Restivo, an analyst with the research firm IDC, said many phone makers and carriers had recently emphasized social networking. But he commended Microsoft for picking a clear target. “For years, Microsoft has tried to be all things to all people and it hasn’t worked,” he said. “Microsoft has regrouped and decided to form a beachhead with the teens and tweens.”

John Harrobin, a senior vice president at Verizon, said he hoped the phones would attract a new crop of customers. “R I M went after a market that they knew was big, but didn’t know how big,” he said. “They did e-mail better than anyone, and the Kin does social networking, pictures and video better than other phones.” Harrobin said he expected the video-capable Kins to cost less than the popular Flip video cameras sold by Cisco Systems, which start at about $150.

Microsoft has been in the cellphone software market for years, trying to make a mobile version of its Windows software as popular on hand-held devices as the regular version is on PCs. But the strategy has not been successful.

In February, Microsoft showed off a new version of its smartphone software, Windows Phone 7. A large number of phone makers will ship products based on this software later this year, hoping their devices will slow the momentum of Apple’s iPhone.
The Kin phones build on the same core software as the Windows Phone 7 products, although they look different. And while the Kins emphasize social networking, the Windows Phone 7 software and devices merge consumer and business functions.
The Kins are largely updated versions of products Microsoft acquired in its 2008 purchase of Danger. Sharp and Microsoft designed the phones, which will display the Windows Phone, Sharp and Verizon/Vodafone brands.

One software feature unique to the Kin phones is the Spot, a place near the bottom of the interface where users can drag photos, messages, videos, maps and other content, which can then be sent to a friend with a flick of the finger.
Microsoft has decided to retain tight control of the Kin software, meaning that there is no applications marketplace for the products, and will determine which social networks have built-in support on the phones.
The New York Times