NPR logo Microsoft Releases A Phone Of Its Own

Microsoft Releases A Phone Of Its Own

With these two phones, Microsoft is looking to break into the young, female market. Press Photo/Courtesy of Microsoft hide caption

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Press Photo/Courtesy of Microsoft

With these two phones, Microsoft is looking to break into the young, female market.

Press Photo/Courtesy of Microsoft

They were code named "Pink" but Microsoft is calling the phones "Kin."  I got a glimpse of the phones last week but promised not to write about them until today. 

The idea behind these phones is to cater to the 15- to 30-year-old crowd. Microsoft research shows that these users are most interested in social networking and the average smart phone doesn't really cater to them. 

The strategy with Kin is to get a part of the market that isn't really interested in traditional smart phones. Microsoft has been losing share in the mobile phone market to Google's Android system and the iPhone.

On Kin it will be possible to have pictures and updates from all your friends on the touchscreen of your phone all the time and to send out pictures, videos and messages to all your friends on several social media platforms — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Windows Live. 

Microsoft's John Starkweather gave me the demo and it was pretty cool the way it was possible to drag a message or a picture down to a small spot at the bottom of the screen that directs the message or picture to a group of friends. 

There are two versions of the phone presumably at two different price points. (They aren't announcing the prices today.) Both have built in video cameras.  The higher end one has HD quality video.  Both phones have flash cameras and the high end one has eight megapixels. 

But, what I found most intriguing about the phones is that everything you do on them is automatically backed up to a password-protected online site.  That means there will be no limits to the number of photos, videos and messages you can store.  So even though the phones only have 4GB or 8GB of memory it really doesn't matter. The phones will also let you access and store music online that you can access from your phone.

As long as you stay with the Microsoft brand of phone you can access your a virtual multi-media diary of your life online that goes back years.  If you leave Microsoft you can take it with you but you will lose access to the site. 

That gets me to business side of this story.  Microsoft has been losing smartphone market share to both Google's Android system and Apple's iPhone.  With these phones MS is hoping to get an untapped slice of the market.  If they give these phones the right price it could be a good strategy.

The Kins are on the Verizon network, made by Sharp and they will have a Microsoft logo.  So officially, this is the first time that Microsoft is getting into the phone business.  But, it won’t do like Google and sell it from the Microsoft Web site. It w ll se l fro  the Verizon site.

The phones are due out next month.