updated 09:40 pm EST, Thu November 11, 2010
Kin One and Two reappear on Verizon roadmap
Microsoft's ill-fated Kin One and Kin Two are returning to Verizon, a leaked fall roadmap revealed tonight. Despite having sold just 8,810 phones, the phone designer is bringing the two devices back as the OneM and TwoM. PPCGeeks' copy of the roadmap would have both sold as basic feature phones and consequently dodging the $30 smartphone plan requirement widely credited for killing the popularity of the devices in their brief six-week initial run.
As a consequence, both are likely to lose advanced features like the Kin Studio online sharing and backup service but should still have support for Zune music as well as a calendar, e-mail and messaging. The hardware appears to be unchanged and would have the squat Kin One toting a five-megapixel camera and 4GB of built-in storage while the more conventional Kin Two gets an eight-megapixel camera and 8GB of storage. The Kin Two would also have the higher resolution display and record 720p video, a rarity in the category.
When exactly the line would return isn't known, but they would both be slated to return before the end of 2010.
Until the launch of Windows Phone 7 just this week, the Kin was symbolic of Microsoft's seeming inability to adapt to modern phones as well as a tendency towards internal corporate rivalries. The project may have been sabotaged from the inside by a Windows Phone team that believed it detracted from Microsoft's main smartphone efforts. If true, the company's mobile lead Andy Lees forced a switch away from the leaner and largely ready code from the Danger Sidekick and towards Windows CE, leading to an 18-month delay that may have blown a deal with Verizon for smartphone-level data at much cheaper prices. By the time the Kin One and Kin Two shipped, devices like the Motorola Droid and Palm Pixi Plus cost as much or less but had many more features and more advanced apps.
The youth-focused design's emphasis on data may have also cost it some ground. Most teenagers thrive on texting, but the requirement of a smartphone plan not only raised the minimum cost of a plan to $70 per month but didn't include any messaging whatsoever.
Recent Verizon data plan changes could improve the phones' adoption significantly, as it no longer requires a data plan for certain non-smartphone devices and has a $15, 150MB tier that could significantly lower the total cost.