KIN, the morning after. Now what?

In the days leading up to yesterday’s KIN announcement, I figured I could very easily just ignore this thing (then known as “Pink”). After all, it was going to be a feature phone, a side-product that had little if anything to do with Windows Phone.

That is clearly not the case. KIN shares some technological underpinnings with Windows Phone and is, more important perhaps, a version (of sorts) of Windows Phone.

I’m going to review the thing, and of course the device will provide an early look at some Zune functionality that I can write about for the book.

The question here is… Do I need to cover KIN in the Windows Phone Secrets book?

My knee-jerk reaction yesterday was that maybe it deserved a chapter. But the more I think about it, the less that makes sense. Now, I’m thinking it can go one of two ways:

I just ignore it, aside from a mention upfront about this side-product.

Or I mention it lightly throughout the book.

Either way, I think it needs at least a mention. The question is how much space to devote to it. It’s possible that Windows Phone owners will get these things for their kids. I’m not sure how much value there is in talking about that regardless.

But on the flipside, if I’m purporting to reveal the secrets of this thing, shouldn’t that include all of it?

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33 Responses to KIN, the morning after. Now what?

  1. sideshowjim says:

    Hey Paul,

    I think just for completeness you should mention something. I was blown away by it. They’ve captured the market they’re aiming at perfectly. Sure it’s never going to be useful to me, but it fits in perfectly with the intended audience.

    However, as your book is aimed at people like me, a light mention won’t do any harm. Maybe Gen 2 / Gen 3 things could look more interesting?

    (by the way, Threemote for Android released on Sunday)


  2. kellings1 says:

    Am I correct to say that this book is going to be for users wanting to learn how to use Windows Phone 7 and looking for information about it? I think that the core audience for Kin is going to open the phone box, throw the phone manual off to the side, and start using the phone. No reading required for them.

    I agree a few pages might be OK, but I think that it should be considered a completely different product that serves a completely different user and their needs.

  3. tliles says:

    I think the fact that it has Zune makes for an interesting item. I get 3 Zune devices per Zune pass. Now I can have it on my Win 7 phone when it comes out and my wife can get it on her Kin (when it comes out). Plus if there was another person in the household now they could carry a device and take advantage of the Zune pass. That’s pretty compelling to me and shows some good connects, at least on the media side of the house, of these platforms.

    Also, I think the idea that this is just geared toward the younger market is sort of off. Not everyone wants a “smartphone” to put apps on. Take my wife for example. She likes to text, take pictures, check/update facebook, and occasionally check email or browse the web but that’s it. She does not live with her face glued to a phone screen. A full blown smartphone with an app ecosystem is just never going to be used by her no matter how great it might be. I think that is an interesting market segment that is probably bigger than we think, especially if the cost of the phone is low and the data plan is not outrageous to get.

    Short answer, it probably has it’s place in the book where it shares features with Phone 7,

  4. mooreshelby says:

    After showing the website to my son and seeing his eyes light up with “I want this.” I think you should include a chapter in your book, after all this looks like a segment of the market Microsoft is going after.

  5. pastorwelker says:

    It is interesting to see how the bloggers have been reacting to these phones. All the posts leading up to Monday were uniformly negative about the potential about Pink/Kin. Microsoft certainly exceeded expectations – including mine.

  6. Gary Russo says:

    I agree with all the replies especially tliles. I believe the market for a low tech bare bones device like this may be significant.

    For MSFT revenue, I assume Microsoft is using the razor blade model.
    Loose money on the development, subsidize the devices but make it up with the back end subscription services.

    I believe it should be covered in the Windows Phone Secrets book because it looks like the core OS is Windows CE as is Windows Phone 7 and Zune HD.

    (Actually I’m not sure about Zune HD being Windows CE based).

  7. TekDragon says:

    The way I look at it is the way you approached things like Zune, Home Server, etc. in the Windows 7 Secrets book. Those things aren’t part of Win 7 but are complimentary. And while most of those who pick up WP7 Secrets are probably wanting to learn about those phones, they may have children, relatives, or friends for whom Kin makes more sense and I think it would be useful to them to know more about it, especially as a parent. I think it’s worth devoting a chapter to, especially since the two platforms will share some elements (Zune) intially and it sounds like perhaps even more down the road given some of the MS interviews I’ve read.

  8. gpsarakis says:

    A small chapter would be good I’d say. As many have pointed out, and MS has said, these Kin phones and WP7 will share more things going forward. It’s best to talk a bit about them just to have all bases covered in the future.

    The whole Kin studio for example could be what MyPhone turns into later on (well, more professional looking ofc), the basic idea of backing up everything on a WP7 automatically is huge. Data plans are one thing but heck, it could just do it when you have a wifi connection like at home or at work for example. And the Spot, I think we could see something like that on WP7 at some point as well.

  9. palavering2u says:

    Paul, unless you think the Kin deserves a complete book, I’d throw a chapter in your book devoted to it. By doing this, you can attract to audiences, or help parents who own a Windows phone to assist their kids who own a Kin. Kids aren’t wont to buy a book about the Kin; they want sinple instructions to turn it on! But their parents, who pay for their kids’ Kins, might want to know how it functions and how to control its usgae, too.
    This is a conjecture on my part, obviously, but I wouldn’t make a decision too quickly.
    Best to you.

  10. palavering2u says:

    tewo audiences–sorry for the typo.

  11. palavering2u says:

    sorry for the second typo–two audiences. This is what macular degeneration can do to its victims. But at least I can still see!

  12. palavering2u says:

    Wow, too many typos. My wife is out, so I can’t seek assistance. Sorry.

  13. huwjones says:

    My tuppence worth – you should put in a single chapter on Kin (or, alternatively, have some Kin-related sections or ‘boxes’ spread through the book, indicating differences or similarities between the platforms). As TekDragon pointed out, you had sections in your Win7 secrets book that referred to WHS, Zune etc, and you didn’t go into the secrets of all of those, so I think that it makes sense. You can’t just ignore it, surely?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Thanks, everyone, for the feedback on this. Still not sure how this will end up, but thanks. I don’t think I’ll ignore it. Just a matter of how much to cover this, I guess.

  14. Mike Cerm says:

    You wouldn’t write a book on the iPhone without mentioning the iPod and iTunes. So, you should probably treat Kin however you intend to treat the Zune HD in the book. Both are related to the Windows Phone ecosystem, they sync with the same software, and in the future, the Kin, Zune, and Windows Phone products and engineering teams will become even more unified.

    You know what would be pretty cool? Kin as application on WP7. The same way the music and video experience on Kin and WP7 is basically Zune, the whole Kin-experience could just be another hub.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Interesting, thanks. Yeah, actually, adding this into some competitive chart does make some sense (in addition to whatever else).

  15. Gary Russo says:

    Good point about the Zune, KIN, WP7 ecosysterm. There are common client and backend services in each. For a roadmap perspective, I suspect you’ll want references to WM6.x too.

    You and your audience know best but there are rumours of an equivalent low end KIN-like device from Apple.

    Within the next 12 months, I’m expecting to see an iPhone Nano or iPhone Shuffle product targeted at the low tech folks that don’t want to deal with App Store complexities. It’s possible that Microsoft beat them to it for a change.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      One thing I was struck by in seeing the devices is that the Music + Video (“Zune”) interface was virtually identical to that on the Zune HD.

  16. steveymacjr says:

    Any one know if there have been any parental control features announced?
    The phones sound cool, but for some parents if they don’t have control over who their child communicates with, and what they send out they will not get this for their child, especially if they are paying for it.

    Anyway these phones do look cool… I guess you could call them “Dumb-Phone killers”…
    Oh any wagers on a price for the device, and the rate plans…

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      No, and I don’t believe there will be any. It’s more of an older kid’s/young adult’s phone than a children’s device.

  17. Gary Russo says:

    My guess on pricing:

    Device Cost: $100 and $150

    Voice: $30 per month
    Data: $50 per month
    Zune Pass: $15 per month

    Total Monthly Cost: $95

    • tliles says:

      Man, I hope not. My Zune cost is sunk and already assumed so I can pull that out but that $50 a month data is hopefully high. Come on $30 dollars max!!!

  18. Gary Russo says:

    Yes, I think the $15 per month Zune Pass fee covers 3 devices so this can come out.

    If Verizon/MSFT can do this for less than $60 per month ($30 for Voice and $30 for Data) then it may fly off the shelves.

    • Corgan says:

      I’m with you, Gary.

      I’m hoping that despite it’s constant backup of data, it’s limitations from no application ecosystem will lend itself to a lower service cost. If it comes in at below 60, Verizon and Microsoft have won me over.

  19. brentgv says:

    Before the launch, I probably would have said ignore it. But since many of the technologies of KIN are based on the underpinning structure of Windows Phone 7–and since the devices and online ecosystem have a real “wow” factor–I think it’s worth a whole chapter that informs people just about this interesting side bet that Microsoft is making. Most Android phones look the same, there’s only one iPhone, but Redmond is saying there’s more than one way to make a phone.

    For what KIN wants to be AND for what it is, it’s cool in my book.

  20. The fact it has a number of “smart” features, primarily sinking with the Zune software it probably deserves a chapter.
    I can’t see them charging for full data plan. You can buy a full smart phone for $99 so why pay more for less. Verizon now makes you get a $10 a month data plan for anything more than the most basic phone, I
    m guessing $100 for the phone with a 2 year plan and you should be able to get the monthly down to $50.

  21. roberthleeii says:

    I think the KIN Phones are important to talk about. If they are successful in the market it could be a big game changer for Microsoft’s future. I think what Microsoft is trying to do is steer this generation in and around high school and college out of the iTunes ecosystem and get them in the Zune ecosystem. Imagine what will happen when “kids” start using the Zune software: First they will realize that not all software is as slow as iTunes and when they go to buy their next phone, media player, tablet, or computer that is not bought and paid for by their parents why not buy Microsoft/Zune/WP7 because that is what they already have and are use to, not iTunes. I think Microsoft attempt to target the next generation of buyers while WP7 is targeted at the mass market and is the upgrade path for KIN Phone users. But this all relies on KIN being successful and I think apps would have helped this. If I was a developer I would love to be able to develop one app that would work for WP7, KIN, and any future Zune HD or WP7 tablet based on WP7.

  22. mikerisner says:

    My $0.02: Mention KIN fairly early in Secrets, and specify its strengths, weaknesses, and compelling features relative to Windows Phone. Then don’t mention it elsewhere unless there is a true need to do so.

    KIN could be covered effectively in a somewhat lighter reference book. For Dummies comes to mind. And I sincerely don’t mean that in a bad way. The Dummies line is comprised of great reference books.

  23. palavering2u says:

    “Comprised of” is a tautology; read: . . . comprises great reference books. Hey, what else can a 70 yr old English prof do to amuse himself? Watch your language, Mike!!! Lol.

    • mikerisner says:

      @ palavering2u: You’re too funny, my friend. I knew I was using it wrong (I mean, incorrectly) but couldn’t help myself. You’d never guess I’m the person with prepared diatribes for using “can/may/might” and “use/utilize”, among others… Thanks for keeping me honest!

  24. palavering2u says:

    @mikerisner: Thanks for having a sense of humor and being so civil. I’m a real gadfly about English and most people don’t appreciate my comments. And I can’t say that I blame them.
    BTW, if you enjoy English, Bryan Garner has a great word usage book available everywhere. He’s not stodgy and fun to read–and he writes very well, indeed.

  25. palavering2u says:

    @Paulthurrott Ditto!

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