The early reviews of the Kin show the device itself to be unremarkable, even as a feature phone, and the user interface "obtuse" and shaky, especially the more you use it. That's too bad because there are some interesting concepts in the Kin UI. But perhaps this incompleteness is inevitable: When was the last time Microsoft issued a product that wasn't fully baked until at least its third iteration? It looks like the Kin is living up to Microsoft's tradition of using paying customers as beta testers.
Verizon has pulled this "pay more than you should" stunt before. If you get an Android device, you pay an extra $10 each month if you let it slip that you intend to connect to Microsoft Exchange. Why accessing Exchange email should cost you more than accessing POP or IMAP email is beyond me -- clearly, it's a ploy to soak the business user.
Now Verizon has turned to fooling the Kins' 20-something target market, hoping the Microsoft name and "social media" branding will disguise the fact that pretty much any feature phone can do the same basic social networking stuff as a Kin -- and often better. Kin Studio, its cloud-based archive of your social networking history -- the one thing that sets it apart from feature phones -- is not worth $30 per month.
I'm not surprised that Verizon is trying to fool young adults into paying $30 more per month than they need to. The phone companies pull this kind of stunt all the time, rivaling only Wall Street in their ethical barrenness. But I am surprised that Microsoft is enabling this behavior. Didn't it learn anything from Vista?
Shame on them both.
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This article, "Beware the smartphone pretenders," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.