Microsoft has unveiled two new Windows smartphones designed around social networking in an attempt to woo the youth market.
The two devices – Kin One and Kin Two – feature touch-sensing screens and slide-out physical keyboards, and will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the US starting May.
In the autumn, Vodafone will launch the devices in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The devices do not offer apps, games, document editing or viewing functions, according to Wired.
Rather, they integrate social networking updates, news feeds and contact information in a way Microsoft hopes will appeal to the youth demographic.
The Kin smartphones are part of Microsoft’s big picture plan to become more hands-on in handset design as it attempts to win back share from Apple’s iPhone.
To date, Microsoft has steered clear of being involved in hardware, focusing only on its Windows Mobile OS.
The Kin smartphone release has already raised eyebrows, with technology writer Chris Ziegler from Engadget questioning why Microsoft rolled out Kin separately from Windows Phone 7 OS.
“While both products share common underpinnings, they're different enough so that there's really no user-facing commonality beyond some shared compatibility with services like Zune and Windows Live,” Ziegler said.
“Frankly, we don't get it - why not start from a generic, extensible platform like Windows Phone 7 and work outwards to create Kin as a specialized sub-product?”
Microsoft general manager Matt Bencke refuted: “We're going to share more and more in terms of code."