As you have probably already seen, Mary Jo Foley posted about a Microsoft Job listing that mentions something called the Windows Phone Mobile Studio and speculates that this may be Microsoft’s updated Windows Phone version of the now defunct Kin Studio cloud synching service. I personally think that this “Mobile Studio” is actually a UI/UX design team within Microsoft and not an actual product or service. This is not to say that there isn’t a Windows Phone version of the Kin Studio in the works or that this team isn’t working on one though. Microsoft has already officially stated that it was working on this ever since Kin was pronounced dead.
Continue reading What is exactly the Windows Phone Mobile Studio ? →
With the imminent launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 it is only natural to see the company’s CEO quizzed about the subject by several newspapers. A few days ago it was the Seattle Times and today is the Wall Street Journal’s turn. The WSJ sat down with Ballmer prior to the Microsoft vs Motorola filling and asked him several questions about the Microsoft’s mobile strategy. Nothing really new comes out of it but similar to what he said in the ST interview, Ballmer doesn’t want to make any sales forecast and expects world of mouth and marketing to play a big role in the WP7′s platform success. Redmond has already done a pretty good job when it comes to developer relations and evangelism in the past few months but now every-body’s waiting to see how the marketing campaign is going to look like and more importently what the OEMs are going to offer this fall. Quotes after the break:
Continue reading Steve Ballmer: word of mouth and marketing are key to Windows Phone 7′s success →
The Seattle Times sat down with Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer for a quick Q&A session about the company’s current and upcoming products. It is interesting to see that Microsoft is really conservative and doesn’t xant to talk about any Windows Phone 7 sales forecast (contrary to what happened back in May..). Steve states that the primary goal with WP7 is to have a vast OEM ecosystem filled with great looking and interesting devices:
Q: Windows Phone 7 (a cellphone platform) is coming out this holiday season. How are you going to turn this into a billion-dollar business for Microsoft?
A: The place to start is, “Are we going to have cool phones out with our software on them this holiday season?” You put aside the questions of how you make money and blah, blah, blah. That’s all interesting in the long run. In the short run (claps his hands and rubs them together), people gotta want these phones. I think they’re going to look pretty good. … If we start the popularity chain and start kind of the buzz around these things, we’ll be able to make some money off them.
Continue reading Steve Ballmer talks about Windows Phone 7 →
Can’t say I didn’t call it…but it is now official: Microsoft’s KIN project is now officially dead. The KIN team will now be integrated into the Windows Phone 7 team. Just yesterday I posted that I found it strange that nothing was ever announced about the EU launch date…I wonder if the rumored update will ever see the light of the day now. On a brighter note; it will be interesting to see how KIN Studio will be integrated into Windows Phone 7.:
“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”
Continue reading KIN is DEAD! →
Microsoft’s KIN phone may be on the way out, at least that what all the signs are pointing out. Verizon and Redmond don’t want to communicate on the estimated sales of both handsets since their launch a little bit more than a month ago and this can only mean that they aren’t worth talking about (contrast this with Apple’s 1.7 million iPhone 4 sold in a single day…) Some Verizon workers are now claiming that they are being outsold by the Palm Pre (how lame is that?). To try to make things a little better Verizon is hopelessly going to lower the KIN One price to $29 and KIN Two to $49, unfortunately they will still require a $29/or more data plan. On a brighter note; A software update is apparently in the works and should be released this summer. I find it rather “strange” that we haven’t heard anything new about the worldwide launch of both device (and there still is no carrier enrolled in France!). My advice to Microsoft would be: Forget about it, integrate Kin Studio into Windows Phone 7. KIN is dead.
Source: Cnet, BGR and Microsoft
Chipworks just finished tearing down Microsoft’s KIN TWO
handset and posted some interesting pictures and info. Surprisingly they found out that contrary to what was officially announced, the camera is not from OmniVision but from Sony (Sony IMX046 8 Mp Image Sensor). The KIN TWO also features a Qualcomm
QSC6085 CDMA Processor alongside the nVidia Tegra APX2600
. The Capacitive controller of the touch screen is a T1021A ClearPad
Controller from Synaptics.
Mark/Space, makers of the award winning Missing Sync application for Mac have announced today that are the company providing the Mac synchronization software for Microsoft’s KIN handsets launching today.
KIN Media Sync for Mac syncs whole playlists of music you’ve created in iTunes to your phone – your tunes, to take with you and listen to wherever you go. And, sync music from your phone to your Mac, easily.
Pictures of friends. Photos of family. Sync albums of photos you create in iPhoto on your Mac to your phone. Snap a photo. Share a photo. Sync photos you take with your KIN phone to your Mac, too.
Your movies – to go. KIN Media Sync converts and transfers digital video and home movies for a great viewing experience on your KIN phone. Plus, shoot video with your phone and KIN Media Sync will bring it to your Mac.
KIN users who wish to sychronize their handst with a Mac can just head over to the KIN Media Sync for Mac page and download the application.
Microsoft is in small PR nightmare with the launch of the two KIN handsets this month. On one hand they are heavily promoting Windows Phone 7 as their new mobile platform while at the same time launching to feature phones that have in my opinion no place in Microsoft’s upcoming mobile catalog (once WP7 is out). Since the very beginning the company has said that KIN’s features will, in the future, found there way into Windows Phone 7 and it seems that things may be (hopefully) accelerating a tiny bit now that people are openly criticizing the KIN’s pricing plan and wondering if project will ever be a success. When asked about the possibility of seeing downloadable applications on the KIN ONE and KIN TWO, Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan had this to say:
Neither the Kin One nor the Kin Two has the ability to download applications and games — taking it out of the realm of most smartphones — but Microsoft said it plans to allow app downloads in a future version as services are merged with upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices.
“Over the longer term, we’ll be merging [Kin and Windows Phone 7] platforms and having downloadable apps,” said Greg Sullivan, senior product manager in Microsoft’s mobile communications unit.
I don’t wish failure for the KIN phones but the sooner some of the features (KIN Studio, KIN SPOT) find their way into Windows Phone 7, the better. Microsoft could still sell KIN handsets in the future but only if the price plan is lower than what is currently offered.
I can’t say I’m really optimistic about Microsoft’s KIN success but this doesn’t mean that I’m right. ZDnet’s Matt Miller is currently doing something really interesting: He actually gave both KIN handsets to his daughters and later asked them their first impressions.I encourage you to head over to his blog and check out his daughters first impressions. He will post a full review of both devices in the coming days which should be interesting.
Here’s Maloree’s first impressions of the KIN ONE:
When i first opened this futuristic cylinder of a box I thought the packaging was very unique! But when i first saw the phone it was quite small and very light weight, which made me feel it wasn’t very good quality. After putting in the battery and starting it up the set up and main operating was very confusing because it wouldn’t recognize my Gmail password. My dad had to help reset my password on my Windows Live account so I could login. I think they can make it a little more user friendly. When I first started texting the space bar got a little annoying, it clicks in an odd way. When looking through contacts it was very disappointing because it includes all friends on MySpace and Facebook who include there phone numbers and I didn’t really want all of that information in my contact list. I think it would be easier to add your own contacts instead of it automatically putting people you may not want in your contacts. I do enjoy the unlock screen when you have to flip a virtual page with a welcome message reading “Nice to meet you.” Under settings they have a very personalizable feature of color schemes including my favorite blue also green, red, and pink. Texting on the keyboard is very easy to text with and also I love the fact that it shows it as a conversation. I think the texting features will be very teenage friendly. But the music you have to have a Zune Pass to get music so I will need my dad to help me set that up on the computer. The volume button on the side is very handy and easy to operate. The camera seems to also be very high quality, compared to my other phones! After using the phone for a couple of hours I have started to really like this phone and have gotten used to the form factor and keyboard. The speed is quite brilliant compared to the HTC Touch Diamond since it doesn’t take as long of a time to get from place to place. I’ll keep using and messing around with the Kin One and keep you in touch.
PhoneArena has posted a fairly in-depth review of the KIN ONE and KIN TWO handsets yesterday with lots of info of a camera sample for you to check out. Some interesting bits are also found in there like the fact that video’s capture in HD on KIN TWO can’t be synced to the KIN Studio over-the-air because of their size so the user will have to plug-in his handset to his PC via USB to manually upload them. What is worrying though is the quality of the web browser which is based on the IE Mobile version found in Windows Mobile 6.5.3; loading performance is said to be abyssal and rendering is only passable (takes a while for the page to re-render when zooming). Windows Phone 7′s browser is supposedly based on a newer version (based on IE 7 and some IE 8 ) that will hopefully don’t suffer from all those drawbacks (performance in the CTP Emulator isn’t really great right now tho…). KIN’s saving grace may come from the upcoming update that are scheduled to be pushed before the end of the year (and more in 2011).
Continue reading In-depth KIN ONE and KIN TWO Review →
The first KIN reviews are popping up today and the general consensus is that the products just doesn’t have a place in the market now. It isn’t that the hardware is bad or that the software lacks several key features (both aren’t stellar and having a Tegra APX2600 is useless if it can’t be used for anything remotely interesting…), what kills it is the fact that both devices will be priced like smartphones and with smartphone data plans even though they are far from being such phones (no calendar,no gps mapping, no productivity suie etc..). Ever since the announcement last month I (and virtually every other website out there) said that in light of the current market and lack of features of the KIN phones (and now that Windows Phone 7 is announced and heavyly consumer oriented); KIN’s only saving grace will be the price of the hardware and the data plan associated with it. Unfortunately, Verizon and Microsoft have decided to screw the whole thing up:
To get the most from KIN, Verizon Wireless customers will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan and an Email and Web for Smartphone plan. Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access. Email and Web for Smartphone plans start at $29.99 for unlimited monthly access.
Who the hell would pay for a KIN One or KIN Two $49.99 and $99.99 respectively after a $100 mail-in rebate when you can get an iPhone 3GS, HTC Legend or a Palm Pre PLus for a similar price?
I still stand by what I said a little while ago: Microsoft didn’t have the balls to can the project last year (especially after “wasting” $500M on Danger). Now let’s forget about all this and integrate Kin Studio into Windows Phone 7 please.
Here’s Engadget‘s conlusion:
You could get a Pre Plus — an immeasurably better phone with much of the social networking integration of the Kin devices — for $29 coupled with a smartphone and voice plan. Or you could spend a little more upfront and get a BlackBerry Tour 9630, Droid, Incredible, or Droid Eris — all much, much better phones with excellent social networking options. The list really goes on — and again, if you were a teenager or young adult with all of these great options laid out before you, the idea of choosing this severely limited device which doesn’t do a single thing better than even the most basic Android device is kind of crazy. Microsoft has hinted that it wants to shake up the text-centric featurephone market with Kin, but guess what? You categorically cannot even fathom to do that when you’re charging for smartphone data. It’s insulting to suggest otherwise.
And that about sums it up — there are much better choices for much less money on the market, and Microsoft hasn’t demonstrated to us why you would choose this phone over those. You could argue that the 720p video recording is a hook, but our results weren’t that outstanding, and we don’t know anyone who needs HD video on a phone so desperately that they’re willing to overlook all of these faults. In the end, we’re left with two orphan devices — phones that feel like they should have been killed before they made it to market, but somehow slipped through. It’s clear to us from conversations we’ve had with Microsoft that there are people at the company with good ideas about what phones should and shouldn’t do, but we don’t feel the Kin is representative of those ideas. The execution (or lack thereof) on these products makes us legitimately concerned about what the company will do with Windows Phone 7. We can only hope that the similarities between those devices and the Kin handsets don’t stretch much further than the “Windows Phone” label, because in our estimation, Kin is one side of the family that needs to be disowned… quickly.
This bizarre pricing will make potential Kin buyers’ minds jump from messaging phones, which the Kin compares favorably to, to thoughts of smartphones, with app stores and full mapping and real browsers. Droids. The similar looking Pre. Or a BlackBerry. The stuff that you might not consider if you were considering a phone like the Kin in the first place—overkill!—but which Verizon has made you consider by not giving these handsets the pricing they deserve, instead opting to pit them against monstrous foes, endangering the Kin concept, and slowing our inevitable progress toward cloud services like Studio.
As a dumbphone killer, the Kin is an easy pitch. As a smartphone competitor, it’s hopeless.
Nothing is official yet but according to an internal Verizon report (pics) Microsoft’s KIN ONE and KIN TWO handsets are going to be available for pre-order on May 6th and will starting shipping on May 13th. This isn’t really surprising given that we already knew that both devices are expected to launch this month. The info that everybody wants to know now is; what kind of data and voice plan is Verizon going to offer and how much are those plans going to cost. The success of KIN will be highly depended on the price of the devices and the carrier contract.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise especially for those who have been following nVidia for a while. The big green company has always been known to be good on the PR front but severely lacking when it comes to product delivery and real functionalities. According to Semiaccurate, Samsung has decided to drop a major contract it had with Nvidia for Tegra based phones. I’ve been following Tegra news and developement ever since it was announced back in 2008 find it kinda ironic that the only handheld products shipping with a Tegra SoC are the Zune HD and the Samsung M1 PMP (this thing shouldn’t even count given that it was only released in South Korea and nearly didn’t sell at all). Interstingly the first (and probably last) Tegra based phones are only coming out now, the Kin One & Two. Here again there’s nothing exceptional given that those two products are basically Zune HD phones as I reported here they have the exact same Tegra APX2600 and run on the same WinCE Kernel. As Charlie points out in his post, nVidia totally messed the whole thing since the beginning by partnering exclusively with Microsoft. Tegra was supposed to be the preferred SoC for Windows Mobile 7 handsets (launching in Q3/4 2009) and if memory doesn’t fail me, a couple of WM7 Motorola products were supposed to hit the market in Fall 09 and even HTC had a Tegra based phone (SuperStar) in the works back then,same for Samsung (see linkedIn info on WM7/Tegra work). Unfortunately Microsoft decided to scrap WM7 aka Photon in Q2 2008 leaving nVidia only with the Pink Project that was supposed to launch at MWC 09 (it didn’t and MS only unveiled WM6.5.) Because Tegra was only compatible with WinCE, nVidia had to go back and work on Android/linux support if it wanted to have a chance to sell its chip to OEM/ODMs. But it was too late, Motorola decided to goo 100% Android and use TI OMAP and Qualcomm MSM SoCs, HTC didn’t see any reason to continue developing a Tegra device given the availability of the more advanced Cortex A8 based Snapdragon SoC etc…And to make matters worst, Microsoft has decided that Qualcomm’s SnapDragon will be the only supported chipset in Windows Phone 7 in the near future. That leaves nVidia with the KIN phones which are basically the result of the initial partnership with Microsoft 2 years ago. So don’t expect to see any Tegra smartphones in the market soon (and Tegra 2 is currently aimed at the smartbook/netbook market now).
I asked Microsoft if they could tell me which Tegra chipset was used in the KIN handsets and finally got an answer: it’s the Tegra APX 2600. I basically wanted to make sure that it was not the 2500 version (see full KIN specs here). The APX 2600 is indeed the same SoC used in the Zune HD so it should be pretty clear now that the underlying OS used on the KIN handset is closer to the Zune OS than it is to WP7 (which doesn’t use the same Kernel). One has to wonder why Microsoft didn’t announce some kind of A/V connector for the KIN Phones to output HD content bought in the Zune Marketplace orsShot with the 8Mpix camera of the KIN TWO. It would be great if their was a HDMI dock similar to the Zune HD one IMO.
When it comes to world wide availability of the handsets, Microsoft has already announced that Vodafone is set to launch them in Germany,Spain, italy and the UK. Microsoft didn’t ink a deal yet with French operators yet, but they expect/hope to release them this fall. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft is going to deal with the nearly simultaneous launch of Windows Phone 7 and KIN in Europe. The Zune Pass/Marketplace will also officially launch in Europe at the same time. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean the Bing is going out of beta in those countries (expect in the UK where it’s already out of beta), Microsoft told me that the Bing roadmap isn’t tide to the Windows Phone 7 and Kin launch in Europe.
Here’s a 20 Minutes long hands-on video of the KIN devices and KIN Studio from MS’s Channel9:
Micrososft has just uploaded a couple of KIN videos on YouTube showing the product and UI in action:
Continue reading KIN Studio, KIN Camera, KIN Loop and KIN Spot Videos →
REDMOND, Wash. — April 12, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. today announced KIN, a new Windows® Phone designed specifically for people who are actively navigating their social lives. Brought to life through partnerships with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp Corporation, KIN is designed to be the ultimate social experience that blends the phone, online services and the PC with breakthrough new experiences called the Loop, Spot and Studio. KIN will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. beginning in May and from Vodafone this autumn in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
“Working closely with our partners, we saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation — a phone that makes it easy to share your life moment to moment,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “We built KIN for people who live to be connected, share, express and relate to their friends and family. This social generation wants and needs more from their phone. KIN is the one place to get the stuff you care about to the people you care about most.”
A New Kind of Social Phone
With KIN, social networking is built into the fabric of the phone. KIN has a fun, simple interface, which is designed to help people publish the magazine of their life by making the people and stuff they love the focus rather than menus and icons. The unique hardware design was developed in partnership with Sharp to create a new kind of social phone. There are two models called KIN ONE and KIN TWO. Both phones feature a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. ONE is small and compact, making it a perfect fit for a pocket and to operate with one hand. TWO has a larger screen and keyboard, in addition to more memory, a higher resolution camera, and the ability to record high-definition video. The 5 and 8 megapixel cameras in ONE and TWO, respectively, are designed for use in low light with image stabilization and a bright LumiLED flash.
The New Way to Share
The home screen of the phone is called the KIN Loop, which is always up to date and always on, showing all the things happening in someone’s social world. KIN automatically brings together feeds from leading Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all in one place, making it easier to stay connected. Customers can also select their favorite people, and KIN will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds and photos. Another unique feature, the KIN Spot is a new way for people to share what’s going on in their world. It lets them focus first on the people and stuff they want to share rather than the specific application they want to use. Videos, photos, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates are shared by simply dragging them to a single place on the phone called the Spot. Once all the people and content are in the Spot to share, the consumer can choose how to share, and start broadcasting.
Your Phone, on the Web
KIN Studio is your phone online. Almost everything created on the phone is available in the cloud from any Web browser. Photos and videos are freed from the confines of the phone and presented in an online visual timeline so they are easy to view and share. The KIN Studio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalized digital journal so it’s easy to go back in time to relive a crazy weekend or recent birthday. And the KIN Studio gives customers tons of storage to keep all those photos, videos, contacts and texts so they’ll never run out of space on their phone and lose a memory.
Music and More
KIN will be the first Windows Phone to feature a Zune experience — including music, video, FM radio and podcast playback. With a Zune Pass subscription, customers using Zune software on their PC can listen to millions of songs from Zune Marketplace on their KIN while on the go, or load their personal collection. KIN also has other features customers want in a phone including a rich browser with the ability to share pieces of the Web, local and Web search by Bing, and an RSS feed reader to pull down information on people and stories from the Web.
We finally have the full specs of Micrososft’s Project Pink
KIN ONE specs:
Form factor: Vertical slide, QWERTY
Display: 2.6″ TFT, QVGA (320 x 240), capacitive touch screen
Chipset: nVidia Tegra APX 2600
Camera: 5.0MP CMOS anti-shake, autofocus, dual LED flash
Memory: 256MB DDR RAM, 4GB storage
Battery: 1240 mAh
Connectivity: EV-DO Rev A, Bluetooth 2.1 w/A2DP, Hi-speed USB, 802.11b/g
Other: Assisted GPS, FM radio, accelerometer
KIN TWO specs:
Form Factor: Vertical slide, QWERTY
Display: 3.4″ TFT, QVGA (480 x 320), capacitive touch screen
Chipset: nVidia Tegra APX 2600
Camera: 8.0MP HDR CMOS from Omnivision with anti-shake, autofocus, Lumi LED flash
Memory: 256MB DDR RAM, 8GB storage
Battery: 1390 mAh
Connectivity: EV-DO Rev A, Bluetooth 2.1 w/A2DP, Hi-speed USB, 802.11b/g
Other: Assisted GPS, FM radio, accelerometer
Here’s the official website: www.kin.com
Update: added the Tegra APX2600 info
Micrososft is going to webcast tomorrows Pink (Turtle & Pure) confernce/announcement live on the press website at 10AM PT. Yes this is the Trutle handset in the picutre above… The live webcast will be available here.