Microsoft unveils “Kin” social networking phones

Microsoft publicly introduced two new touchscreen mobile phones today, the fruit of its long running Project Pink. The devices are aimed at younger generations, presumably those who are looking for quick access to social networking services.

Similar to the Sidekick phones offered on T-Mobile, the two new Microsoft phones will be manufactured by Sharp.  The Kin One touchscreen smartphone is more of a smaller, square-shaped phone, while the Kin Two touchscreen is a rectangular shape — both phones will be available for Verizon Wireless only.

The Kin One has a 2.1-inch touchscreen with a 5-megapixel camera, multitouch displays, accelerometer, physical QWERTY keyboard, and the ability to easily record video.  The Kin Two has an 8-megapixel camera, 3.5-inch display, and also has a physical keyboard, multitouch, accelerometer, and video recording.

Microsoft unveils "Kin" social networking phones

Each phone model is powered by a preliminary version of the upcoming Windows Phone 7 software, but with a completely custom interface on top. Interested consumers can now visit the official Kin Web site, which went live this morning.

The biggest issue appears to be with apps support. The Kin phones will not support any 3rd party apps whatsoever, crippling the phones to function with the built-in capabilities alone.

Microsoft hasn’t released pricing information for either phone, with an anticipated release date expected early next month for both phones.  The Kin phones will make their way to the U.K., Spain, Italy and Germany during the fall, Microsoft confirmed.

Microsoft has been unable to compete with Google Android, Apple iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, and other smartphone platforms that have significantly cut into Windows Mobile marketshare.

AT&T already has the popular iPhone — which Verizon wants but hasn’t been able to get — so it’s no surprise Verizon decided to team up with Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is expected on mobile phones in time for Christmas 2010. I still think Windows Phone 7 can have an impact in the mobile phone market, but I highly doubt these two app-crippled phones will make much of a dent.