Microsoft, Verizon Reveal Pricing For Kin Phones

Microsoft and Verizon Wireless late Tuesday revealed how much Kin phones will cost and when they'll be available, but anyone hoping for an affordable price structure is going to be disappointed.

Microsoft's Kin One and Kin Two will be available through Verizon Wireless' Website on May 6 and in Verizon stores on May 13. After a $100 mail-in rebate, Kin One is priced at $49.99 and Kin Two at $99.99, and both devices require a two-year Verizon service contract.

But as noted by the mobile blog Boy Genius Report, Kin devices also require a $30 monthly data plan on top of the Verizon text and voice plan.

Given that Kin devices are designed with a laser focus on social networking, to the exclusion of third party application support, it will be tough for Verizon to justify charging the same amount for data as AT&T charges iPhone subscribers.

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"Verizon and Microsoft really needed to hit a home run on pricing, and that doesn't seem to have happened," said Chris Leckness, an Alabama-based Windows Mobile MVP. "With the target audience that Microsoft is targeting with this release, they had to knock the data price down considerably to make this worthwhile and attractive for this generation."

"If a parent is going to pay this amount of money for a device for their kid, they're likely to consider an iPhone, or an Android or Blackberry device instead," said Todd Osagawara, a San Francisco-based Windows Mobile MVP. "These are known quantities, and Kin is an unknown quantity right now."

Kin is getting mixed reviews, but most of the negative points have to do with pricing. Some analysts are describing Kin's features in glowing terms. One example is 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.

"The first time I opened Kin Studio felt like magic. An entire website was created to hold my Kin’s content, yet I had done absolutely nothing extra to put it there," Boehret said in a Wednesday blog post.

Next: Kin Supports Sidekick's Cloud-Based Storage

Microsoft has brought the Sidekick's cloud-based storage to the Kin, but the architecture from its Danger subsidiary, which runs the Sidekick service, experienced a major failure last October which forced T-Mobile to halt Sidekick sales for over a month and resulted in lost data for many Sidekick customers.

Kin One and Kin Two carry the Windows Phone, Verizon and Sharp brands. But Windows Phone 7 isn't finished yet, and the underlying Kin OS -- which Microsoft is calling Windows Phone OS for Kin -- merely shares "some common foundational element OS components, software and services" with its full fledged cousin, according to Microsoft.

If Microsoft added the Windows Phone brand to Kin because it wants to tease the market with a glimpse of the range of functionality Windows Phone 7 will include, this seems like an odd way to go about it.

If Kin devices end up selling well, Microsoft will have the unique opportunity to tout Windows Phone 7's success even before it hits the market. But if they don't, then Windows Phone 7 will already have one strike against it before it comes to the plate.