There’s a space in between modern smartphones like the iPhone or Google Nexus One and old fashioned phones that do little more than make phone calls. The T-Mobile Sidekick, for instance, is a feature-phone that lets you surf the web and chat, but which doesn’t support third party apps.
Now Microsoft is hoping to jump into feature phone space in a big way. The company introduced KIN today. KIN is a new cellphone platform with a heavy focus on social networking and sharing. The two phones Microsoft is introducing will let you connect to Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live, Twitter, and other services to share photos, videos, text messages, and other items.
Incidentally, that T-Mobile Sidekick I mentioned? It was made by a company called Danger… a company which Microsoft acquired a while back.
Sounds like a smartphone, right? But while the user interface looks a little bit like the Windows Phone 7 tiled UI, don’t expect any support for third party apps. The phone does what it does — which is to make calls, surf the web, check email, chat, take pictures, and share information. There’s a music player and a video player.
Microsoft is targeting young folks with the KIN. In fact, it’s particularly aimed at connected kids who are used to being able to share everything with their phones and computers.
The KIN user interface is built around sharing, and you can drag any content on your phone to a “Spot,” which is a little green area near the bottom that you can use to almost instantly upload photos, videos, and other content to social networking sites.
At launch, it looks like there will be two phones: The KIN One and KIN Two. The Two looks like a typical touchscreen smartphone with a sliding keyboard. The KIN One on the other hand, is a tiny litle guy that’s pretty much square shaped )with rounded edges), and a slide-out keyboard that’s much smaller. The KIN One has a 5MP webcam and 4GB of stroage while the KIN Two has 8GB of storage and an 8MP webcam that can shoot HD video. Both have Zune-powered media players.
There’s also web-based software called the KIN Studio that you can use to organize your data (photos, videos, text messages, etc). What’s interesting is that since KIN Studio is based in the cloud, you can sync your data with the KIN studio without connecting your phone to the computer. This means if you lose your phone you can also use the KIN Studio software to preserve your data.
Update: It’s not just third party apps that KIN is missing. Laptop Magazine points out there’s also no calendar or instant messaging app. And for some strange reason you can’t share pictures via Twitter. It’s like nobody told Microsoft about URL shorteners or Twitpic.