Apr 10

Microsoft unveils Thing One and Thing Two

Microsoft President of Entertainment and Devices Robbie Bach, holding his new pride and joy

Actually, it’s Kin One and Kin Two. I had my heart set on a “next of kin” joke, but I came up empty.

No matter, Microsoft has been throwing out plenty of straight lines this week with the Kin intro. These two phones are aimed at “the social generation” — further defined as the 15-30s who are “social networking enthusiasts.”

As such, the world of Kin is not a very grown-up place. It’s built with parts of Zune and the possibly soon-to-come Windows Phone 7. These phones are designed especially for the young ’uns — you know, with all that cool stuff the kids like to do.

They offer “the Zune experience,” except for one glaring omission: apps. So there will be no game-playing around these parts. Flash? Uh-uh. Kins are simply designed to be the perfect tool for social networking. Except for one other glaring omission: instant messaging.

But then that’s understandable, because they only connect to the Internet every 15 minutes. That interval is unchangeable (though you can force a manual connection). Hey, what’s a 15-minute delay between friends.

Watching the video demo, the interface does have some interesting features for its intended audience. And both models have pretty good cameras (although no photo or video editing). You can upload to any site that Microsoft chooses to enable — which currently does not include Twitter. Well, who uses Twitter, really.

To me, the two Kins just feel like a misread of the market. They don’t seem to be all that good at the one thing they’re supposed to do. More important, I question the need for a “kiddie” phone in the first place. The social networking crowd has plenty of great smartphones to lust after already, all of which provide a ton more capability. A Kin may be enough for a 15-year-old, maybe. For the 30-year-old, no way.

One thing these models will offer is an excess of logos. They’ll come wearing the badges of Windows Phone, Sharp and either Verizon & Vodaphone. I’m not sure if they’re all trying to take credit — or just spreading out the blame.

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  • Synthmeister

    Somebody needs to notify next of Kin, cause this thing is DOA.

  • It’s almost sad how clueless Microsoft has become these days. They’re not even close to being a threat to any other tech companies anymore.

  • I used one for an hour or so. When I thought of it like a smartphone, I thought the same stuff (no apps, why do I have to count on MS to support new social networks), but when I thought of it like a feature phone, it felt pretty amazing.

    A lot of the 20-somethings I know use their iPhone for Facebook, texting, and some phone calls and email.

    Using it felt like my iPad; the geeks are freaking about what it doesn’t have, but there’s something special (although hard to quantify) about it. It nails a particular use case in a way that I don’t think a lot of people see the benefit of yet.

  • rd

    Danger made sense when smartphone weren’t
    the hottest thing, when there was no high speed
    data network.
    but now with iphone, no teenager
    will drool at sidekick redux.

    What I wonder is why Microsoft
    is not telling us what KIN acronym stands

    Kill Iphone Now.
    KIN Is Not.

  • John Naitove

    Should I sell MSFT yet?

  • ken segall

    Sad story: I used to have a bit of MSFT stock. I was young and foolish. After holding it for eight years, one day I decided I’d just get rid of it, as it had stagnated. Literally the very next day, they announced a special one-time dividend (a significant one) to reward their shareholders. It defies belief that I would literally get screwed by a single day after sticking with it for eight long years. It could only be a plot!

  • hmmmmm… “kin” … is that some Klingon term for ‘irrelevant’?

  • John Naitove

    @Ken. I got that dividend. Shock and awe. I later got one like that from Vodaphone. Buy & hold.