Microsoft has spoken up to defend its KIN feature phones amid a flood of bad press for the newly introduced devices.
The KIN devices have been accused of being overpriced for what they offer, especially when it comes to the recurring data plan. Microsoft however claims the automatic back-up service (which it gives away free for Windows Mobile users) justify the price, as well as the data-intensive social networking applications pre-installed on the devices, including streaming Zune music.
"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]," Greg Sullivan, senior product manager with Microsoft’s mobile communications unit, said.
"Once they realize the value of this, they’ll realize it’s a great deal," he 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." She went on to claim that many feature phone users were already paying for smartphone data plans.
There is however no doubt the phones, which lacks the ability to install 3rd party applications, are very far from smartphones, but according to Sullivan this is set to change in the future.
"Over the longer term, we’ll be merging [Kin and Windows Phone 7] platforms and having downloadable apps," he said.
He also went on to say that future devices could also have additional features such as video chat, if the market demanded it.
"If the audience is really interested in that, we have the ability to update the platform," he said. But audience surveys showed that video chat was not a high priority for the first version, he added.
Sullivan said that the mood at Microsoft is "really excited" following the Kin launch and with workers anticipating the Windows Phone 7 launch later in the year.
"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.
Read more at ComputerWorld here.