Microsoft Targets Mobile Youth With 'Kin' Devices


Microsoft wants younger mobile device users to conduct their social networking chatter and content creation on devices that bear its branding, and it's using the cloud to tie it all together.

On Monday, Microsoft took the wraps off Kin One and Kin Two, mobile devices that each feature a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, digital still and video cameras, loads of storage, and a Zune-powered media player, all tied together in a touch screen interface that's optimized for the "guess what I'm doing now" set.

Kin devices are believed to represent the fruits of Microsoft's $500 million acquisition of Danger and Microsoft's oft-delayed "Pink" mobile development project. Kin devices may also use the customized software and services stack that Pink was reportedly developing, but Microsoft isn't confirming this.

The underlying OS -- which Microsoft is calling Windows Phone OS for Kin -- shares "some common foundational element OS components, software and services" with Windows Phone 7, which is due to arrive on devices later this year, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Social networking is baked into the Kin user interface in three main areas. Kin Loop features social networking updates from friends and family; Kin Spot lets users share photos, Web pages and other content by dragging and dropping onto a designated circle; and Kin Studio is where all user content that's generated is stored, not on the device, but in the cloud.

Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, says using cloud storage will allow Microsoft to offer a solid mobile user experience.

"What's really powerful about this is that it's all done in the cloud, managing all the connections and bringing all the data together. If this was happening on the device it would quickly drain the phone's battery," he said.

 

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