Here are some (live) thoughts from the Microsoft KIN (formerly “Pink”) launch event. I’ll update this as it goes…
First up, the KIN web site is live.
There are two models, the KIN ONE (“Turtle”) and the KIN TWO (“Pure”), the latter of which is a candy bar design.
It syncs via Zune PC software (!) and works with Zune Pass. Has a built-in FM radio.
Touch-screens all around. Touch-based web browser.
Dedicated search button, just like Windows Phone.
Dedicated emoticon button on the keyboard, which is interesting.
KIN “Spot” is the UI for sharing – literally a round green dot at the bottom of the screen. You drag items (photos, video, texts, sites, people) to the dot to share them with friends.
Billed as a “Social Phone” (i.e. not “feature phone”).
KIN Loop is the feed of real-time info from your contacts, via multiple social networking sources.
Both phones feature a camera with video capabilities.
KIN Studio is the online site (like My Phone??) for storing and backing up KIN-based photos, videos contacts, and messages.
Target market, as expected is young and annoying people. :) They like to share. What they’re sharing is banal. but whatever. It’s the “social generation.”
Friends (real friends) vs. “friends” (people you sort of know, usually online, or acquaintances of other kinds) .. and how to juggle those different kinds of friends.
“Lifecasting” – they’re doing it every day. Focused on self-expression. A multi-screen digital life. Bringing that to the phone? One that is designed just for them.
Windows Phone 7 – best multi-purpose phone for business users and consumers – (told you so) :) – but there is a need for a specific target social audience – customize for this audience around social communication.
“Crank social to 11″ just like they did for Xbox Live.
Nice: Windows Phone 7 is about simplifying life. KIN is about amplifying life.
Knit together a community of kindred spirits. Newest member of the Windows Phone family. Interesting that that’s the focus. It is not Sidekick, technologically. That is unexpected.
A packaging picture …
Music – first Windows Phone to ship with Zune. UI looks/works like Zune HD. Nice!
Photos – has to be a better way. 5 and 8 megapixel lenses with flash. KIN TWO shoots in HD. Wow. Vast majority of people use phones for pictures, but for one third, the photos are stuck on the phone. Thus, KIN Studio. Web site as noted above. Integrated with the SPOT. It’s like capturing a life journal. Added timeline so you can go back and revisit what happened. Auto geotagging of photos.
KIN is much more than a phone … is a social experience.
Sharp is making the hardware
Verizon/Vodafone because they want to release it worldwide
Mobile experience built from the ground up for the socially connected – share anything: Pictures, videos, whatever – with anyone, from wherever you are.
Keynote is over … some notes from the event…
Microsoft started looking at the market a few years ago … Not an audience Microsoft has focused on in the past, but is literally the future. Needed to understand what was happening there, and develop branded end to end experience on the phon.
Building for a world where every phone has an IP connection. Data is as important as voice and text.
Services in the cloud behind the KIN: Camera experience includes high res photos trickling to the cloud automatically. No way to run out of space. Can’t fill up the phone. KIN service has connections to all the social networks, resides in Windows Live.
Customer base spends beyond their income. On family plans. 15-25 years old. Fantastic opportunity, good timing. Do something different than traditional phones with cables, tethering.
Unique and differentiated. Phones are used to store memories.
Actual hardware … comparing to an iPhone. (Heh.) Both a KIN ONE and KIN TWO.
Home screens are customizable … Social feeds, news feeds, interesting presentation. Find something you want to share, dump it into the Spot. Square portions of UI are vaguely similar to Windows Phone 7. Has an Xbox-like green theme made to match the hardware, but is customizable. Timeline-based UI with newest stuff on top. Can drop into individual services (Facebook) if you want.
Studio was called the Connector before.
KIN ONE stays in one orientation; KIN TWO has accelerometer and can rotate.
Zune software – called Music + Video on device, like with WP7. Very familiar UI (if you know the Zune HD).
Studio demo (via PC and web browser) – It’s written in Silverlight. Zune-esque but super-graphical. Nice timeline view. Unlimited storage (!). Nice map view that work with the geotagging. SPOT is available on the Studio too; drag items in from the desktop. Your most favorite photo becomes the background in Studio. If you change the theme in the device, it changes it on Studio.
Zune PC software on the PC, but MS is supporting Mac with KIN Sync software. So no plans for Zune on the Mac.
Supported services: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (but not photos), Windows Live (photos and content)
Internal storage: 4GB on KIN ONE, 8GB on KIN TWO. There is no memory card slot (contrary to rumors).
Apps? This crowd wants social networking. So we integrated that. Not siloed apps. And no third party apps. No app market. No games. But we will OTA updating. As the market evolves, will continue to add things to the device.
Carrier services? This was developed with Verizon. These are the services we are shipping with.
No IM for 1.0. Suggests they’re looking at that.
Under the hood – a lot in common with Windows Phone. Common kernel (but not exactly the same). KIN service is different. Rendering layer and UX is different. Slightly different web browser. Phones will get updated differently. KIN and Windows Phone are not “in sync” with each other. Low level stuff is shared. But they’re not on the same trajectories. Some KIN stuff will move into WP and vice versa, over time. These are two distinct customer segments. Only a little overlap.
Started down this path before linking with Danger. They are not technologically related at all. Spiritual relation? They’re part of the team. Sidekick is a T-Mobile brand. This is not the next Sidekick.
Marketing. Joint investment with Verizon. Releasing next month, in May. Fully integrated ad campaign. New brand, distinct. KIN is Microsoft’s brand. There could be future devices on different networks?