Microsoft unfriends developers for Kin social device

Microsoft finally took the wraps off its long-rumored Project Pink effort by formally announcing Kin One and Kin Two, a pair of devices designed expressly for mobile social networking and multimedia sharing. Manufactured by Sharp and available in the U.S. from Verizon Wireless beginning next month, the touchscreen-based, camera-enabled Kin phones automatically bring together feeds from services including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter via the Kin Loop, an always-on homescreen UI that automatically prioritizes status updates, messages, feeds and photos from contacts identified by users as their favorite people. The cloud-based Kin Studio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and presents images and video content in an online visual timeline; in addition, the Kin devices integrates with Microsoft's Zune digital media services and Bing web search services.

The Kin phones introduce a new version of Microsoft's mobile operating system, separate from both the current Windows Mobile 6.5 and the forthcoming Windows Phone 7. During a media presentation Monday, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division president Robbie Bach said Kin incorporates some elements of Windows Phone 7 but adds a new interface layer. "If you are focused on social connection, self expression and a digital life, how do you bring that to a phone?" Bach said. "As we were working on Windows Phone 7, we decided we had an opportunity to go after this social group of people."

Microsoft notes that the Kin phones will not offer access to its Windows Phone Marketplace application storefront, nor will consumers be given the latitude to customize which applications are available to them. Instead, Microsoft will push out periodic app updates to all Kin handsets, group product manager Roger Snyder tells Forbes.

"We think Kin will be--finally--a successful foray for Microsoft into the consumer mobile world," blogs Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. "What is less clear is the role Kin devices will play in supporting the Windows Phone brand. Microsoft acknowledged that they envision an upgrade path whereby Kim owners will, eventually, step up to a Windows Phone 7. But developers will now see three different instantiations of the Windows Phone platform: the current (nee Windows Mobile) platform, Kin, and the upcoming Windows Phone 7. While the latter two share some code elements, Kin is not even available to developers... With Apple offering developers a single platform of more than 85 million devices (including iPod touch), and a gathering tsunami of Android devices hitting the market, we think Microsoft would be better off focusing their value proposition to developers, not making it more confusing."

For more on Microsoft's Kin launch:
- read this Forbes article

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