Microsoft Has Two New Kin

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is finally following Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) into the gadget game with today's unveiling of the "Kin" smartphones, which will be sold under its own name. (See Next For Microsoft: 'KIN' Windows Phone.)

There had long been rumors that Microsoft would release a phone around its Zune digital music platform. Redmond CEO Steve Ballmer said in late February this year that this was not the case. (See No Smartphone for Microsoft.)

"It is not our strategy to build our own phone," Ballmer said. "It's our strategy to build software that can stretch across many devices."

Technically, this statement is still true, since the Microsoft phones will be built by Sharp Electronics Corp. , much in the same way that High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) builds the Google-branded Nexus one. Microsoft, however, has never tried to sell a mobile device with its own logo front and center. Previously, it has always worked with partners like Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), so the move does represent a shift in strategy.

The Kin One and Two will be released in the US by Verizon Wireless in May. Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) will carry the phones this fall in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Microsoft is describing the devices as "the next generation of social phone." They will link Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Microsoft apps; allow people to share photos and videos; broadcast status updates to selected people; and offer access to the contents of the phone online. As expected, the phones will also incorporate Microsoft's Zune music application, which is Redmond's rival to Apple's iTunes. (See Gadget Watch: Awaiting the Apple Tablet.) The software giant isn't releasing many technical details for the phones yet. It has said that both phones will feature a touchscreen and slide-out keyboard, while the Kin One is a smaller version with a 5-megapixel camera. The larger Kin Two has more memory and an 8-megapixel camera. Neither Verizon nor Vodafone has said how it will price the devices yet.

Microsoft's shift into branded hardware comes as it is trying to revamp its presence in the mobile space. Redmond unveiled a major overhaul of its mobile operating system this February at Mobile World Congress with Windows Series 7. (See MWC 2010: Microsoft Bites Back.)

Microsoft has needed to do something to reinvigorate its mobile strategy against the onslaught of BlackBerry, the iPhone, and Android-based handsets for a while. Google's Android, in particular, has been stealing market share from Microsoft, with traditional Windows supporters like HTC and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) heavily pushing new Android handsets. (See CTIA 2010: Enter the Handsets.)

Market analysis firm comScore Inc. said recently that BlackBerry remained top of the US smartphone heap with a 43 percent share in the first quarter, followed by Apple with a 25.1 percent share. Microsoft is next with 15.7 percent, but comScore says that was a drop of 4 percent, while Android-based phones, fourth in the running, climbed 4 percent to extend its share of the market to 7.1 percent. (See Gadget Watch: Android's Growth Spurt.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:39:53 PM
re: Microsoft Has Two New Kin

Guess, i just need to say Kin, more Microsoft crap.  What does Microsoft develop, or build that you really love, or If had a choice would live without?  I am hoping that new Google docs provides a great alternative to Word so I can remove more of MS from my desktop.  


I just can't imagine the Kin (silly name) be anything but a me too POS.



FredStein 12/5/2012 | 4:39:53 PM
re: Microsoft Has Two New Kin

Once again, Ballmer refuses to see his failure and tries to change the game. No one in MSFT can tell him - you're not a monopoloy - you can't change the game.

So, what am I saying? Windows Mobile is losing mkt share like crazy. What's more, there is NO REASON, for any hardware maker to continue with Windows Mobile, when there is Android and heck why not - and Symbian. So Ballmer is now buying (and reselling) someone else's HW in order to sell SW. A creative approach to denial.

He tried the same denial trick when he tried to buy Yahoo. Hooray for Jerry and board of wall flowers for derailing that. My guess is same denial game. Rather than admit losing out to GOOG, he tried to buy flawed YHOO who was also losing to GOOG. My guess, Mr G. finally put his foot in and told Ballmer he was nuts (I'm being polite).

tsat 12/5/2012 | 4:39:50 PM
re: Microsoft Has Two New Kin

I hate Microsoft so much just becuase every day at work I am forced by my IT department to use the 10 year old, slow, archaic OS known as "Windows XP".


die microsoft, die die.  If you are so great, why are we all stuck with your crappy 10 year old technology?  I just don't get it.


Microsoft can't fail soon enough, IMHO.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:39:50 PM
re: Microsoft Has Two New Kin Ha! How do you really feel?

I have a love hate thing with MSFT. Love my IPTV system, the search function, cool menu, performance, VoD, all that.

My laptop at work? Runs on Win XP. Horrible. Hate it. Puzzling how something so bad got so popular.
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