San Francisco -- Barely six months after taking initiative into the phone market, hoping to lure the Facebook and Twitter crowds, software behemoth Microsoft on Tuesday took a giant leap into the phone market by launching its first mobile handset “Kin,” designed specifically for users who are actively accessing social networking sites.
Microsoft unveiled two models, “Kin One and Kin Two” are directed at the younger consumers in the age group of 15 to 25 years, who want access to social networking sites and videos from their mobile phones, Microsoft said in a statement.
While both the phones have common features such as touchscreen, with a slide-out keyboard and camera, and is based on mobile software platform Windows Mobile.
Microsoft said the new devices would empower people to “publish the magazine of their life”. The Kin One is a compact instrument featuring a touch-screen interface and slide-out Qwerty keyboard, while the Kin Two has a larger touch-screen, bigger keyboard, more storage and a better camera.
“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, and Kin is the one place to get the stuff you care about to the people you care about most,” Microsoft President, Entertainment and Devices Division, Robbie Bach said.
With hardware manufactured by Sharp, the Kin will come in two models: the Kin One, and a wider, more powerful model called Kin Two. The devices will be sold exclusively in the U.S. by Verizon, starting next month. In Europe, Vodafone will be the exclusive provider, starting around October.
“We saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation -- a phone that makes it easy to circulate your life moment to moment,” said Bach.
“Kin is an excellent illustration of when mobile and social networks meet,” said Michael Gartenberg, a mobile industry analyst. “Different audiences have different needs and want optimized experiences.”
Microsoft's decision to launch phones is being seen as the company's attempt to tighten competition for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd (RIM) and Apple Inc in the growing smartphone market.
When Microsoft introduced Windows software for devices manufactured by handset makers HTC Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd among others six months ago, it was considered as an assault to Apple's iPhone and Google Inc's Android phones.
The handset would be available in the US from May and in European countries like Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK from this autumn.