Microsoft’s new Kin phones are not truly smartphones, but Verizon Wireless is charging users a minimum monthly $70 service fee anyway – $30 alone for data – over a two-year contract. Microsoft and Verizon representatives defended the fee on Tuesday, partly because of the Kins’ automatic cloud-based backup of video, pictures and other data.
“Over the longer term, we’ll be merging Kin and Windows Phone 7 platforms and having downloadable apps,” said Greg Sullivan, senior product manager in Microsoft’s mobile communications unit. Critics have drubbed the new the new Kin phones for charging its mostly younger user base a $70 monthly minimum smartphone service fee over two years. Negative comments have flowed from bloggers and reviewers.
“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,” Sullivan said. Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon, said that the Kin phones were “designed … to be a full-service device for the person whose life is about networking.”
Raney said the Kins’ biggest feature is backing up video files, photos and other data in the Kin Studio cloud, which is accessible via a Microsoft Silverlight-capable PC or Mac. That kind of backup will lead to plenty of Internet usage, which Verizon is trying to cover with the $70 fee, some critics have pointed out. Sullivan said customers will get used to that monthly charge. “Once they realize the value of this, they’ll realize it’s a great deal,” he said.
“There’s a realization that this market is nascent and there’s a tremendous opportunity over the next many years in smartphones, and we expect to be there,” Sullivan said.