Mobile

Verizon brings back Microsoft Kins as feature phones — tech world says "I told you so"

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If you thought you were safe from hearing more about Microsoft’s ill-fated Kin phones, think again. Verizon is apparently gearing up to offer the phones a second chance on its network, except this time in a stripped-down feature phone capacity, according to a leaked Verizon road map revealed by mobile site PPC Geeks.

As easy as it is to ridicule the Kin phones (even Microsoft employees hated them), they could actually make decent feature phones — devices that sit between smartphones and “dumbphones”. The problem is that they should have been feature phones from the start. Instead, Verizon marketed them as smartphones and paired them with expensive data plans. Since phone buyers could pay the same $29.99 monthly data plan for a killer Android phone like the original Droid, it’s no surprise the Kin phones died an early death.

With feature phone data pricing, perhaps somewhere between $10 and $15 a month, the Kin phones can actually appeal to the youth demographic Microsoft completely misread the first time around. The phones will be losing the data-heavy “Loop” feature — which automatically uploaded users’ pictures and other media to a personalized website — Engadget reports.

Still, the phones will be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s Zune Pass, which offers users unlimited access to music for $15 a month. At this point, the Kin phones are more like Windows Phone 7-lite, as they should have been from the start.