Microsoft is trying to home in on a younger, chattier demographic with two new cellphones centered on social networking.
The Kin One and Kin Two allow users to keep closely synced 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 on 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.
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 8-megapixel camera (up from 5 megapixels on the One) and can take high-definition videos. Made by Sharp; the phones are to go on sale in May for an undisclosed price.
The Spot feature on the phones allows users to drag photos, messages, videos, maps and other content near the bottom of the interface and send them to a friend with a flick of the finger.
Microsoft will retain tight control of the Kin software, meaning there is no applications marketplace for the phones, and it will determine which social networks have built-in support.