A niche handheld device- Microsoft Kin

May 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

Microsoft’s Kin mobile experience is being unleashed on the suspecting public in the coming week [Official Website]. The two devices being launched as part of this social experience portfolio of Microsoft are the Kin 1 and Kin 2. Early reviews [1][2][3] are middling and while the design sensibilities have gotten some praise for its uniqueness (something very refreshingly new for Microsoft) the performance of the next generation social networking driven OS has come for some criticism. There seems to be universal praise for the Kin Studio feature and backup of social experiences- read posts, tweets and thus.

The one thing I found extremely interesting is that the Big V network is positioning this as a tween device but with a data plan akin to an iPhone or Droid. This makes no sense. Why would I pay more for a half baked browsing experience with poor phone performance and a good social networking interface when I get all the good stuff and a much better phone, awesome screen and a Webkit based browsing experience with the Droid or an iPhone.

Coming on the heels of its acquisition of Danger, the maker of the teen crowd friendly Sidekicks, Microsoft has attempted to make a unique device to target the iPhone generation but with Sidekick sensibilities. It should be lauded for this attempt at redefining a niche genre. This also bodes well towards what we can expect from the Windows Phone 7 launch later this year. At the same time, Verizon needs to figure out what it wants to do. Drive more people to the Droid/iPhone combine or truly create a niche in its network- similar to what T-Mobile did for years with its Sidekick fans.

For the design minded reader, there is a nice press kit from Microsoft detailing the design thinking behind the Kin. I liked it. Recommended viewing/reading here.

Disclosure: I do not own a Kin nor is this a review of the actual device. It is just my thoughts based on what I have read about it over the last few months leading up to its launch.

One more thing: For a device platform like this, you dont get to download apps of your choice. MSFT apparently polled 50000 strong target audience and identified apps that it built into the system. Until the Windows Phone 7 marketplace arrives, whenever that is, no more apps for you. Seriously.

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