Kin network pricing is youth extortion: $85 a month

Summary:The KIN One and Two, Microsoft's new youth-aimed smartphones, are the best smartphones you'll never buy. Why? Because it'll cost you $85 a month for two painful years.

The Microsoft KIN devices are aimed at students and the younger user in particular, to take control of their online lives and stand out from the crowd as part of the cool-kid collective.

As I strongly suspected, the pricing issue and the potential for an inability for networks to play ball has indeed arisen, meaning while the device itself may be relatively cheap, the network costs for the full package will be extortionate.

In short:

  • The KIN One will be priced at $49.99 and will be available on 6th May 2010 on the Verizon network.
  • The KIN Two will be priced at $99.99 and will be available on the same day on the same network.
  • Both devices will cost as such after a $100 mail-in rebate with a two year network contract.

All good and well on the device front. I'd say that's relatively cheap off the mark, and $99 after a $100 mail-in rebate isn't too bad. But here's where it gets tricky.

  • Verizon is the only network that supports the KIN devices, so you're already stuck if you're not a customer.
  • If you're to use Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools - which the device is designed and marketed for - you'll need a smartphone plan. This costs $29.99 a month according to Engadget.
  • Seeing as it's a phone, you'll also need a voice plan. This wil cost you $39.99 a month.
  • For a Zune Pass, you'll need to cough up another $14.99 a month, says LiveSide.

All in all, if you were to go with just voice and data - which frankly is the very least you will need for these phones - that's going to cost you over a two-year contract:

  • KIN One + voice only: $1,010
  • KIN One + voice and data: $1,727
  • KIN One + voice, data and Zune Pass: $2,086
  • KIN Two + voice only: $1,060
  • KIN Two + voice and data: $1,777
  • KIN Two + voice, data and Zune Pass: $2,136

In short, it's roughly $85 per month for two years. Gizmodo has some figures; though mine and theirs don't completely add up (there's a chance they don't have dyscalculia, which really doesn't help).

Figures are rounded up to the nearest dollar and is a rough estimate of how much the total device plus plans will cost over the two year service agreement with Verizon. Of course, this may fluctuate based on how much usage you actually consume.

So, it's not the hardware or the software, the social networking aspect, or the lack of downloadable and installable applications that is the issue with these devices. It always has been, and always will be the price - even before it was announced today.

*thud* *thud*

That is the sound of Microsoft and its KIN partners shooting themselves in both feet. I agree with Gizmodo, frankly. It's the best smartphone that you'll never, ever buy.

Will you buy one for yourself or your teenage kid?

Topics: Networking

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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