Reviews for Microsoft's Kin phones may have been mixed, but one thing almost everyone agreed on was that paying for smartphone level data plans was too much for the reletively feature deficient devices targeted at the younger population. The minimum you'll pay under Verizon is $70 per month, which the intended market may find too steep. Bundle that with a lack of support for downloaded apps or games and having to pay $100 post-rebate for the Kin Two ($50 for Kin One), and you've got yourself a deal that's hard to swallow. In a world where you can get a Palm Pre Plus for $30 on a two-year contract, you'd think Microsoft and Verizon could do better.
Computerworld reports that Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Microsoft's mobile communications unit, is defending the price points. He says that "we'll be merging [Kin and Windows Phone 7] platforms and having downloadable apps," but doesn't give a time frame for that functionality or details of the merge. He emphasizes that Kin is more than just a buffer product to fill the gap between feature phone and smartphone.
"We're introducing a new category that's not exactly a smartphone and certainly more than a high-end feature phone -- a social or cloud phone -- with a rich browsing experience and rich multimedia social networking where everything I do on the phone is automatically backed up in the Kin Studio [in the cloud]."
While Microsoft was busy aggresively marketing the "socialphone" aspects of Kin, the seemingly intuitive nature of the social media sharing capablities (a statement many disagree wholeheartedly with), and the seamlessness of social network integration, it seems that the true value of Kin, at aleast according to Sullivam, is in the cloud backup and orginization features it provides in the form of The Studio.
Even the negative reviews came back positive on The Studio, with Gizmodo in particular lauding it as the new standard of cloud-based mobile communications that every company should be trying to emulate. Brenda Raney, Verizon spokeswoman, echoes this sentiment when she says that Kin's biggest feature is automatic, cloud-based backup of social media. This automatic backup of relatively large media files could be the reasoning behind the smartphone-values data pricing.
Sullivan is confident that critics of the pricing will come around once they realize the value they're getting with the combination of a strong focus on social networking and the convenience of full cloud backup.