Microsoft is devoting significant marketing dollars to building buzz around its Kin mobile devices, but apparently teens and twenty-somethings still aren't interested in what Kin brings to the table.
Best Buy, which sells the Kin One and Kin Two, has already lopped $50 off the price of both devices, Engadget reported earlier this week. For customers that sign up for a new two-year Verizon Wireless contract, Best Buy is offering Kin One for free and Kin Two for $50.
Best Buy's offer actually undercuts Verizon Wireless, which is selling the Kin One for $50 and the Kin Two for $100 when paired with a two-year service contract.
Kin One's retail price is $330 and Kin Two retails for $430. Both devices are made by Sharp and are also embossed with the Windows Phone and Verizon brands.
Microsoft has been credited for bringing a unique, edgy approach to its social networking-oriented Kin devices. And features like Kin Studio, which consists of a Web page and cloud-based storage for all photos, videos, and texts created with Kin devices, laid out in timeline format, have also been well received.
However, the $30 monthly data plan Verizon requires for Kin remains the biggest obstacle to its success. Both Microsoft and Kin have defended the data plan requirement on the grounds that Kin devices are prolific at content creation and include cloud-based storage that's been carried over from the Sidekick.
Still, in the market Microsoft is aiming for, Kin's overall costs might be a deal-breaker.
"In terms of its demographic appeal, pricing for the standard Verizon data plan doesn’t seem like a good match with the intended market," said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for twentysix New York, a Microsoft solution provider in New York City.
Added Brust: "It’s good that the devices are cheap, but if the service pricing isn’t comparable to feature-phone voice and text plans now, then I think it misses its mark."
But Kin's problems run deeper than just pricing: User reviews on Verizon's Kin Web pages are largely negative and include recurring complaints about battery life, keyboard design and buggy performance. Users are also grumbling about Kin's lack of GPS, calendar and calculator, as well as the absence of an application marketplace.
Like so many aspects of Microsoft's mobile strategy these days, Microsoft says it will address Kin's deficiencies at some point the future. Microsoft says it plans to eventually merge Kin with Windows Phone 7, which would bring third party application support to devices. But at this point, the company isn't saying when that will happen.