Microsoft’s Kin tries to improve your social life (video)

April 12, 2010

kinMicrosoft officially entered the feature-phone wars on Monday, unveiling its new Kin device at a media event in San Francisco.

It’s tough to stand out in the exploding phone space these days; just keeping all the new gadgets straight takes some work. Device makers are increasingly targeting specific slices, such as gamers or video lovers.

Microsoft made it clear who its target demographic is. BlackBerry can have the middle-aged businessman and road warrior, and Apple’s iPhone can have the trendy folks who can’t do without their 175,000 apps.

But if you’re young, connected and just can’t be peeled away from your social networks — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like — Microsoft thinks it has the phone for you. As Robbie Bach — head of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices unit — put it, the Kin is “designed to navigate your social life.”

There are two Kins, both with slide-out keyboards. The Kin One is short and squat, with a keyboard good for the truly dexterous, those who only need one hand to type. The Kin Two has the size and shape of a more traditional smartphone.

At first blush, the Kin software interface did seem unique, with a variety of tools for staying connected to everything and everyone at once. It will certainly have more appeal for those who want to walk, chew gum and social network all at the same time. That will not be everybody, of course.

The device even lets you rank your chums and connections, lumping them into convenient barrels: the celebs you follow, people who are mere acquaintances, and your tried-and-true, can’t-do-without, BFFs.

Derek Snyder, a product marketing manager, says the Kin “keeps close friends close and treats them differently.”

Here’s a hands-on demo of both Kins with Snyder:

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Kin appears to be Microsoft’s way of saying they know who your friends are, better than you do, which would mean it’s for people who don’t have any.

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