Microsoft’s Kin: Why Apple Should be a Little Worried

By Rahul Dowlath | Microsoft

Microsoft this week unveiled their own branded mobile phones, the Kin 1 and Kin 2. The phones are being marketed at social networking devices, aimed at teenagers who are living the online social life on services like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, but who aren’t interested in buying a smartphone device. They’re affordable, stylish, and cleverly fill the gap between a feature phone — a “basic” phone — and a far more high-powered smartphone.

The plan would be for the Redmond giant to introduce teens to their mobile ecosystem with the Kin range of phones, and later graduate them to their range of business-orientated and powerful Windows Phone 7 devices (due to release later this year).

A quick overview of the Kin mobiles: there are two of them, the Kin 1 and Kin 2. Both are stylishly designed to appeal to the youth demographic. They both have Facebook, MySpace and Twitter integrated into their user experience.

This eliminates the need for teens to be tied-down to an app store, as is the case with the Apple iPhone. The Kin mobiles focus largely on social networking, and even have some cool features like allowing users to “prioritize” their friends, so that they can receive status updates more frequently from their closer friends, and at the bottom of the list, for online acquaintances.

Interestingly, Microsoft has chosen to use their Zune platform to serve music on these devices. This is a clever move on the Redmond giant’s part, as it captures a lucrative market — teenagers and young adults, being so immersed in the online scene, are prone to purchasing the latest trends — and this extends to the music scene as well.

Even better, users of the Kin have the ability to access unlimited music tracks for only $15 a month via Microsoft’s Zune Pass. This is the part where Apple perhaps should step back from their endlessly raging feuds with Abobe and Google over trivial issues, and take stock of what Microsoft’s unleashed into the tech world.

Currently Apple doesn’t have an “unlimited” pass for their iTunes store that allows users to download as much tracks as they want for a fixed price; Nokia has one, and now Microsoft’s gotten themselves one too.

If Apple’s clever enough, they should catch on to what Microsoft’s done quickly. The Kin devices, whilst novel in their approach at selling to a niche demographic, are sure to take off quickly, earning Microsoft a good place in the mobile scene. Apple should have realised this earlier on, when the iPhone became a hit with the young adult demographic. Sure, they’re marketing it more towards the gaming and business side, but small things like an unlimited pass to their music store can go a long way towards securing profits in the long run.

About the Author

I'm a young writer from South Africa, chronicling the changing tides in the ever-flowing river of technology. Focusing mainly on Apple-related technologies, I enjoy sharing my opinion and giving a few tips and tricks here and there on the latest and greatest from 1 Infinite Loop. I'm an avid blogger, and an even more avid reader.

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(1) comment

Craig Mc June 28, 2010

Its a pity that we pay on average 3-4 times the price for phones in ZA. The kin would be a great phone and a very cheap one, saldy I doubt we will see these any time soon in SA.

Till then the best bet is an HD2, with an XDA hacked rom for mobile win 7.

And now that Open Screen has announced full Flash and Flex working on WinMobile in the next few months the app store idea is going to explode. Although after ten years there are already millions of good apps for the CE platform, sadly they are just not centralised in one common store.

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