The Competition: KIN fails to impress | webOS Nation

The Competition: KIN fails to impress 48

by Dieter Bohn Wed, 05 May 2010 10:54 am EDT


We're not going to lie: Microsoft's new KIN phones gave us a twinge of worry. The basic idea is they're socially connected phones, with innovative new user interfaces designed for sharing, focused on the teen set, landing on Verizon, with great cloud backup and integration, all wrapped up in a very cute vertical slider with a QWERTY keyboard underneath. Add in the fact that Microsoft (and their piles of cash) is behind them and the Kin One and Kin Two looked like they had the potential to be Pre and Pixi killers.

So much for all that.

The reviews are in and the consensus seems to be that the devices are a little slow, a little confusing, and a lot overpriced. Slow and slightly confusing we can forgive - webOS wasn't exactly a speed demon at launch and the UI does take some learning. Since Kin is aimed at teens, who are likely more adept at adapting to new OS paradigms, the UI wasn't a concern either. The deal killer is the price, though: $99 for the Kin Two and $49 for the Kin One. That's more expensive than the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus on Verizon right now. What's worse - these phones require full data plans from Verizon, not the cheaper, teen-and-family-friendly solution I was genuinely expecting. In other words: the Kin kills featurephones but doesn't compete well against smartphones ...yet the Kin is priced like a smartphone.

The Kin offers Zune integration (but you have to pay for Zune Pass too). One thing it doesn't offer: games. Don't kids like games? Anyhow, here are some choice quotes from last night's reviews - and by 'choice' we mean 'we are ruthlessly quoting the nasty bits.'

  • Engadget: Kin is one side of the family that needs to be disowned... quickly.
  • PhonescoopQuite frankly, I haven't been this disappointed in a phone in a long time. The list of complaints and missteps far outweighs the positives this time around. 
  • GizmodoAs a dumbphone killer, the Kin is an easy pitch. As a smartphone competitor, it's hopeless.
  • BGRThe concept is fine, but the execution is more a mashup of glitter, key lime pie, and a crappy stained glass window artist all thrown together under Sharp’s assembly lines.
  • PCMagWith the right service plan, the Kin phones could still have cleaned up. Send a bunch of teenagers into a Verizon store and give them a choice between a Kin Two, an enV3, and an Alias 2, and I'm confident that they'd pick the Kin.

It's not all bad, though:

  • AllThingsDThe first time I opened Kin Studio felt like magic. An entire website was created to hold my Kin’s content, yet I had done absolutely nothing extra to put it there.
  • Michael Gartenberg on SlashGear:  Is there a market for KIN? Absolutely. The key challenge will be how well Microsoft and Verizon can tell the KIN story to the target market. Neither the analysts, pundits or journalists will make or break this platform, the real and only question is how well the message resonates with target audience.

We end with Gartenberg on purpose because his point is salient: The tech world has gotten it wrong with first impressions before and the real audience - teens - has yet to weigh in. Do you think the Kin will cut into webOS?


48 Comments's that bad.

better quality than the pre and pre plus

What makes you believe it is better quality than the Pre Plus?

because my mom has a pre plus and i seen the kin 1 and kin 2 and i actually got to play with them. so yeah stfu

Ugly shoes and bad cellphones are built to last forever. That makes Jordan right, but not necessarily smart. It's just a physical law.

Again, like we've all done before, I call BS on this.

I have a first release Pre from last June. It doesn't have a hard case. It only has a screen protector. No problems. None. No "cracks around the bottom button", no "oreo effect", none. ZERO. Got dust down in the microphone port once, fixed it in a few minutes. And that's something that happens with lots of smartphones with 3.5 mic ports.

Shut up and take your fud back to Gizmodo.

You can call BS all you want, but the original Pre has a great deal of horrible hardware... just like the original Touch Pro, Diamond, and even the HTC Touch. All terrible hardware at first.

Just because you didn't have a problem, doesn't mean it wasn't a widespread problem. I'm on #3, and I still have a garbled/vibratious earpiece, phone gets fairly hot and terrible battery life with no patches in good service areas. My slider sticks sometimes, my power button doesn't work half the time, phone calls don't always ring, even though my ringer volume is at 100%... camera sometimes lags for 15 seconds when I open it to take a quick picture, and sometimes up to 20 seconds between pictures. It seems the only solution is to Doctor my phone every time an OS revision is released.

So how about having an open mind and realizing that the hardware was a real issue. There's a reason why pretty much the whole internet agrees that WebOS was/is pretty cool, but the hardware was junk. First-impressions are everything, even if the Plus, or later hardware revisions have fixed some of this.

almost forgot, using my headphone jack causes all sorts of problems as well... like the speakers not working.. gotta re-insert it 10 times in a row, at times, just to get it to work properly.

but, I guess that's how it's supposed to work, right?

with respect for BOTH sides of this argument.... I read all the complaints about the Pre before i was able to purchase it so i've been extra gentle with opening the slider by using two thumbs (one on each side of the lower case) and by opening the usb door after sliding open so its easier to maneuver for example and i've not broken anything so far. i only had to get a new unit after the bricking of 1.4.0 download.

the pre is a ton more fragile than the treo 650 and 755p i've been used to so i can see how its been easily broken by the mostly male customer base here.

it IS still the best OS i've had though and i'm a techy-type girl :)

how the hell can you call bs on a FACT?

even john r admits sprint pre hardware problems.

i had a pre and on day 2 the top layer was already showing its loose side.

just because you lucked out or dont care to see it doesn't mean it's not true, the effing ceo admits it.

Until the data plan comes back to reality, this won't have a chance.

I still can't figure out why people consciously pay extra for data on Verizon. I'll keep my slightly slower Pre over paying extra for the data anyday. My girlfriend has the Pre Plus and her bill is something like $110, and I get the same on Sprint for $83. I think sooner or later Verizon will do something about it, but we'll see. Sadly, despite costing less, Sprint isn't in much better of a place, which I find even more strange.

That's easy, because whether reality or perception, most people believe Verizon has the best coverage. Folks are always willing to pay a premium for more coverage / fewer dropped calls.

What in the world does she have on there? I have the pre plus on verizon and my bill is roughly $85 a month.

all microsoft has to do is advertise opposite of how Palm did and they'll get sales. Face it, it's all about the advertising. Of course, that's asking alot from Microsoft..... Although their Windows 7 commercials aren't bad at all.

I agree with everything said here... EXCEPT...

Think of the target demographic that will pick up this phone. Some of them are the same kids who picked up a Pre Plus and hated it because it "felt cheap," never mind that its software blows the Kin outta the water.

Hopefully these kids will be smart enough to consider the data charges........ but then again that might be giving some of these folks too much credit. Verizon has made a killing on all their smartphone deals to attract new customers who don't realize that it's with the PLANS that Verizon sticks it to ya.

"I Kin Haz Moar Kin Now? OMFG!!" LOL


Right, same marketing plan as inkjet printers and replaceable blade razors (give away the hardware, [over]charge for the supplies)...

One problem is the all or nothing way in which data plans are often priced here in the US. If VZW could figure out a way to offer a limited data plan they could have a niche product that wouldn't be quite as cringe-inducing to parents. OTOH, if there was a profit to be made in variable data pricing plans you can be sure VZ and other mobile carriers would already have figured it out. I suspect that most people actually overpay for the amount of data (bandwidth) they actually use, in effect subsidizing the very heavy data users and putting lots of money in the carriers' pockets. If you paid for only the data you used (the pricing model used for your electric and water utilities for instance) it'd be better for customers but not a good deal for the carriers.

i've never touched a kin but it LOOKS like it was made by the Pre mold and then shrunk in the "shrinky-dinks" oven. i may feel more solid because its flat instead of banana slider? just a theory.

Reminds me of a clever Hello Kitty calculator.

The killer in the decision is price, and the key complaint is a $99 and $49 price tag?

They're new devices, and that price point is more than reasonable for a new device that's well built.

It's not for me, but the target demo is youth - college, teens, and pre-teens that don't need or want a smartphone but want the always connected feel that the Kin is shooting for. I think they have a real chance to explode that target market, even for the 'bloated' price of $49"...

There is no sense to compare those phones.
Kin are feature phones.
Pre and Pixi are smartphones.
Two different worlds. That's all.

My thoughts too. Who cross-shops the Pre versus these phones? Maybe the Pixie, but even that comes with a much better screen. They really aren't aimed at the same market.


One thing Verizon should immediately do is update the Pre-Plus features on their on-line listing of smartphones. The currently displayed features for Pre-Plus do not include video shooting/editing which is almost every buyer's requirement list from smartphones in the same category of Pre-Plus.

And not only that, in the Review List, they have reviewers complaining about not having videos on Pre-Plus !!!

does this phone remind anyone else of a turtle? My friend and I both see a turtle.

One of the reviews said its pre-release code name was in fact, Turtle. Also, apparently the name is well deserved in light of the terrapin-esque responsiveness of the phone's OS.

The cloud storage feature does look very interesting, i wonder if they will have something similar in the windows phone.

Being 16 I think I can actually weigh in on this. If the Kin was priced with a data plan like the enV 2 or any other featurephone on Verizon then it would have a decent shot at selling well but most teens have moved on from feature phones, I see many in the halls toting an iphone or more common a droid eris(which is now free on Verizon with a data plan). Most teens don't want limited functionality like the Kin offers and would much rather grab an Eris or Pixi. Microsoft is way off target with these phones and I don't think that if they were free they wouldn't sell well due to the other better options on Verizon.

+1. I haven't been a teen for a while now, but I think most connected teens these days are smart enough to know what they'd be missing with the KIN, especially with the all-or-nothing data pricing.

My 11 year olds' friends all want really app phones. With games.

sounds to me like vzw is targeting the teens to get more data plan business. The number one feature kids look for is texting...although now that the likes of facebook and such are facilitating mobile uploads that's gonna change I'm sure. Still tho, most teens don't need a data plan. It's just another way the big red gives ya the..well..big The phone reminds me of that weird nokia twister thingy with the keyring hole..

Here we go again, people comparing a super feature phone to a smartphone.

You guys still don't get that this isn't competing with the Pre at all.

looks like a tacky, cheap little gadget gizmo for kids !
Nowhere close to the sophisticated WebOS/Pre !! Whats all the talk about ?

sounds to me like vzw is targeting the teens to get more data plan business. The number one feature kids look for is texting...although now that the likes of facebook and such are facilitating mobile uploads that's gonna change I'm sure. Still tho, most teens don't need a data plan. It's just another way the big red gives ya the..well..big The phone reminds me of that weird nokia twister thingy with the keyring hole..

Didn't this thing already get reviewed here a couple months back?

M$ KIN = Big FAIL.

Seriously, how derivative is the hardware? The KIN 2 looks like a cheap knockoff of the Pre, and the KIN 1, well, it's just plain ugly IMO.

M$ should stick to software and OSes and leave mobile phones to those who know what they're doing...

Just FYI, Microsoft didn't make these devices. Only the OS. Sharp made these devices. Also for the record, Sharp is the leading phone manufacturer in Japan. So they make quality devices (most of the time).

Right you are Daniel. Read that in the reviews and then promptly forgot. I stand corrected.

I don't see how this even compares to the Pre. One is a feature phone the other is a smartphone. Kind of like saying the Samsung Gravity 2 fails to compete with the Pre... well duh?

you people who say the kins don't compare to the palm phones are confused. While we webos users may know what features their phone has, most do not. When someone walks in a store to buy a phone, all they see are what is in front of them and what the sales people tell them. Most people don't know about or read websites like these. Palm needs people who don't know about smartphones and their capabilites to buy pre's and pixis. People will most definitely compare the kins and pres/pixi's when they go into a store to make a purchase.

Absolutely agree. Most people don't go into the phone branch knowing what they want. They don't do their research. They are entirely at the mercy of the phone salespeople... for better or worse.

Why do you think the Pre sold so badly at Verizon? The salespeople were pushing Droids as hard as they could. You can't blame the customer for that.

As the mother of a tween who steals her pre to play games every chance he gets, I say, NO WAY. He has an ipod for music - lots and lots of it. He wants phone and games and (when I let him loose) texting.

Frankly, palm should push the games, facebook app and hotspot linkage for that same target market.

Plus - big plus for parents - he can text for free with a dataphone and I don't have to pay for a text option on my family plan.

Key marketing point:

Pre: Geek phone (think of all those tweaks - this is the old palm user community)

Kin: Chick phone (social, social, social). It looks like a makeup case with a social schedule.

There is NO Reason to compare these phones. The Pre is competing against the EVO, Incredible, Iphone 3G, Iphone HD, Blackberries, Droids, etc. Are we lowering the bar now?

I wouldn't let my dog use that phone..check this out..

I might get this.
Just to try it out

i think its cute
but reakky a palm rip off

"the Kin One and Kin Two looked like they had the potential to be Pre and Pixi killers.", they didn't. Because they are entirely different products meant for different markets. These are social networking phones for teenagers, not full smartphones.