I've spent about 24 hours playing with the more robust Kin Two model and I am surprisingly impressed. On sale today with Verizon, these new teen focused social phones represent a bold step for Microsoft in both price and design. They cost $49 and $99.
These phones don't have the one feature we've come to expect in a snazzy head-turning mobile device: An App Store. In fact there are really no apps at all. The beautiful interface is designed to look like one big social networking app.
Microsoft is betting that teens are going to find everything they need in this phone. After all, no teens I know are reading PDF's or keeping up with family finances using a Mint application. In fairness, I don't know any teens. (God I'm old.) But I do know that teens love Facebook and social networking is the point of this phone.
The big attraction here is sharing and being shared with. With a swipe of your finger the user can share photos, videos, news stories or status updates with friends or a select group of friends. Microsoft calls this The Loop, sort of a social hub or the nexus of a teen's universe. Obviously I'm a few years past my teens, but I found it a great way to experience my social networks in one place. Simultaneously I could post to both Facebook and Twitter without having to jump to different apps.
The real story may not be the phone at all. Microsoft created a social website of it's own called The Studio where Kin users can view and share all of their daily activity in one place. All of my status updates, text messages, photos and locations show up along a timeline. A user can visit any date along the timeline and see what his life was like on that day. It's like having someone keep a diary for you.
Microsoft and Verizon nailed the pricing and design of these two phones. But let's be clear -- they aren't smart phones, they're messaging phones. Would I give up my iPhone for a Kin? No. But then again I'm not 17.
Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host and the tech godfather behind the Gadgets and Games show. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris and by reading his daily updates at his blog.