updated 06:50 pm EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
Kin seen missing target as few teens agree
Teens' cellphone habits may have thwarted sales of Microsoft's Kin before they even begin, according to new study. Even though Kin requires a $70 smartphone plan with no built-in text messaging, Pew Research shows that just 27 percent of teens actually go online and 72 percent of them text message their friends. Most of the new phones' e-mail and social networking would actually go unused as just 23 percent visit social networks and 21 percent send e-mail.
The averages in many cases would virtually demand an unlimited text messaging plan. A typical teenage male messages friends 30 times a day, while a female does so 80 times a day. At the extreme, 11 percent sends over 200 messages every day.
Most teens use their phones for taking photos, as 83 percent say they snap pictures with their phones. Voice is still significant at an average of 38 percent, but it's most often used for talking to parents rather than to friends.
The demographics have the potential to change but could be a blow to Microsoft's ambitions for Kin. Its custom UI focuses heavily on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, all of which are only in the minority among teens and are often too expensive. High school students often either can't afford the cost of a smartphone-level plan themselves or have parents that can't justify the extra costs themselves. At Verizon, an individual Talk and Text plan costs at least $10 less than what's offered for the Kin and offers unlimited messaging. To get the messaging, a Kin would need to be attached to at least an $80 plan.
Competitors like the $99 iPhone 3G will often have similar plan costs to the Kin but support third-party apps and more social networks than Microsoft's devices. They may also have the advantage of gaming, as 46 percent of all teen phone users play games on their phones. Many of them have also been predisposed towards Apple as the iPod touch is a gateway that gets some teenagers used to the iPhone's game-heavy app ecosystem.