The Kin phones Microsoft unveiled last week are neither smartphone nor dumbphone but rather something between the two. With an integrated social networking twist like we’ve seen on the Motorola Devour, the Kin devices are targeted towards a younger demographic consumed in Twitter and Facebook. Is it strange then that the Kin pricing will make or break it’s success?
The Kin don’t fall in the class of smartphones as smartphones have become known today. Sure they’re smart, but there is no calendar, no maps, and no additional apps. That means no instant messaging and no games, nothing beyond the state the device ships in. Smartphones have become synonymous with applications and the Kin will ship and support none. At the same time, the Kin support much more than the typical dumbphone, a device often limited to calling and texting with a terrible UI.
The 5 megapixel camera in the Kin One and the 8 megapixel, HD video-capable camera in the Kin Two will both automatically send all your pictures and video to the cloud, accessible though the web’s Kin Studio. No doubt this alone will add up to some significant data transfer. Add the cloud synchronization to the web browser and email and there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that these phones with require some sort of data plan. The comparable Sidekick data plan ranged from $20-$30.
So how much should they charge for a non-smartphone, non-dumbphone? Both devices, especially Kin Two, look and sound like hardware that they won’t be giving away for free. The problem is that as soon as the price hits the $100+ range in a 2-year contract, it’s got some heavy competition from the iPhone 3G, Palm Pre, Blackberries, and numerous HTC handsets. When you’re signing a 2-year contract though, the device’s upfront cost should pull less weight than the price over two years. That’s where Microsoft has to negotiate attractive data plans for the Kin that give them a leg up on the competition.
How do you think the carriers will price the two? Will we see consumers choose smartphones over the Kin or will the social networking be enough to set them apart? Let us know in the comments.