Microsoft has launched itself into the mobile phone market with a new Windows-based device that it says is desgined to enhance users' social lives.
The new Kin phone blends the phone, online services and the PC with features called the Loop, Spot and Studio.
The device is currently available only in the US, but will be launched into limited European countries in the third quarter.
"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,” says 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."
Social networking is built into the Kin phone. A simple interface helps people make people and "stuff" the focus rather than menus and icons.
The hardware design was developed in partnership with Sharp.
Initially, there are two models: Kin One and Kin Two, both featuring a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. Kin One is small and compact, while Kin Two has a larger screen and keyboard, in addition to more memory, a higher resolution camera, and the ability to record high-definition video.
Both feature high-resolution cameras.
The home screen of the phone, or the Kin Loop, 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. Customers can also select their favourite people, and Kin will automatically prioritise their status updates, messages, feeds and photos.
The Kin Spot lets users focus on the people and stuff they want to share rather than on a specific application. Videos, photos, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates are shared by dragging them to a single place, the Spot, from where he can choose how to share and start broadcasting.
Almost everything created on the phone is available in the cloud from any Web browser.
In addition, Kin will be the first Windows Phone to feature a Zune experience — including music, video, FM radio and podcast playback.