You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd tuned into a hip church youth group show on cable access rather than Microsoft's presentation of its new social networking phones—Kin, to friends.
Against the backdrop of an adult's version of a kid's clubhouse presenters shared with the media two two flavors of its new phone: the bubbly Kin ONE with a compact slide-out QWERTY keyboard (above) and the longer, more iPhone-shaped Kin TWO, which has a larger slide-out QWERTY setup—both made by Sharp (of Sidekick fame). The Kin 2 has an eight megapixel camera (the ONE has a five megapixel cam) and shoots HD video in 720p—impressive. For the most part, the devices lived up to speculation. They're essentially Windows phones branded not with Microsoft logos but Kin badges and pared down for social networking with Zune music player functions and few other bells and whistles. The homescreen is a "lifestream" that users can respond to with a swipe or a pinch. A single touch updates multiple social nets.
There are some other handy features worth nothing (though detailed specs have yet to be released): People are organized based on how often you're in touch with them. You can upload your videos and pics to a central Web site for easy "lifecasting," and more.
The phones go on sale in May.
The gadgets are nothing if not teen-tastic, and there's clearly big hopes for them appealing to the youths of today (especially given today's report about high school teens gobbling up iPhones). In case there was any question about the phone's intended target consumers, Microsoft preceded today's presentation with a slideshow of candid snapshots that looked a Terry Richardson photo shoot with a Ken Burns treatment. Presenters referred to "BFF's" and rabid social network users as "sociologists" (heads up: that term might actually be taken), called their phone's OS "couture software," showed off pics they'd snapped of giant pastrami sandwiches at New York delis and referred to being "hangry," and said things like, "We're going to crank social up to 11."
That's a reference to 1984's This is Spinal Tap, kids. Ask your dad.
There were also multiple comparisons to print media—in pitches that often sounded more like they were selling the concept of social media rather than phones that help savvy kids navigate it. And untucked Microsoft duders said things like, "It's like publishing a magazine every day of their lives," and "It's like giving me the magazine of my life."
Magazines, by the way, are like iPads on paper. Ask your dad again.