Liveblogging Microsoft’s “Project Pink” Party–Plus Video! Will It Be Phonetastic?
Take two parts tech giant, mix with equal measures of new technology and PR, and garnish with a little mystery. Or at least that’s how to mix the perfect Apple-flavored product release.
Microsoft (MSFT) is trying a recipe from that cookbook, too, at its “social event,” which begins at 10 am PT.
No surprise, but Microsoft’s plans haven’t been met with quite the same media fury as the recent launches from hype-saturated Apple (AAPL). But perhaps today’s announcements will be the fresh new ingredients the software giant is looking for.
Hard details are scant, but most observers expect the event to be about of two smartphone devices (possibly named “Turtle” and “Pure”) that–together with a new Windows mobile operating system called Windows Phone 7–make up Microsoft’s secretive “Project Pink.”
Immediately below: A short video we put together after we got Microsoft’s new Kin 1 and 2–the names of the new devices, it turns out–in hand. And below the video, the liveblog text.
9:22 am: We’re here at Mighty, the trendy gallery space chosen for today’s event. No phones yet, just a bunch of cold reporters and a Belgian waffle truck.
9:48 am: We’ve been let in and are getting settled. Mighty is a gallery space-cum-club with lots of exposed beams, techno-club style lighting and at least three disco balls–very Microsoft.
No one in the promo photos flashing on flat-screen TVs everywhere looks more than midtwenties.
Hmm. Wonder who Microsoft is targeting with the new devices?
9:58 am: Crowd is quieting down, lots of trendy tracks on the stereo here as the last people file in and take spots at a standing table. It has gotten pretty packed.
Just got the five-minute call from the disembodied lady voice on the PA.
10:05 am: We’re rolling. Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s mobile device division, takes the stage.
Name-drops Verizon (VZ), Sharp, Vodafone (VOD) in first sentence.
Now we’re watching a short video of young mobile users talking about their phone needs.
10:08 am: Young users in video are talking all about social. Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace.
Lots of talk about photos and sharing.
Now Bach is back on. He calls the people in the video part of the “Social Generation.” He says, “Their social life is priority Number One. Microsoft is answering this by incorporating different levels of friends into their lives.”
“Self expression is super important to these young social users. Like publishing a magazine of their life.” Bach calls it “Lifecasting.”
He says the third finding is that these people are “multiscreen” users.
10:11 am: Bach asks how they can incorporate those things into a phone for the first time.
Now Bach is talking about Windows Phone 7 and says that it was designed for a broad audience.
This product, it seems, will be built on a small, specialized version of Windows Phone 7.
10:13 am: Bach says, “Windows Phone 7 is about simplifying life. This social version is about ‘amplifying’ life.”
He says that today Microsoft will be announcing a phone called Kin.
10:15 am: Now Derek Snyder, leader of Kin team, takes the stage.
There are actually two versions of the phone, and Kin 1 and Kin 2 are the two flavors we expected. One is a candybar with a qwerty keyboard; the other looks like a smaller, round device with a slide keyboard.
Snyder shows the “loop” interface. Sort of a unified inbox for all kinds of status messages.
10:17 am: Now showcasing “the Kin spot,” a region on the screen where “sharing happens.”
It appears this doesn’t automatically interact with social networks. He says, “You can even update statuses to social networks.” That seems to happen with other interfaces. Snyder again hits on the “three categories of friends.”
10:19 am: Snyder now is showing the “app-lications.”
Now he’s showing Bing search, which is GPS-aware.
He moves an event and a venue into a single-status update, then shares that group. Not sure what that looks like externally.
10:22 am: Now Snyder is talking music and about the experience of using this with Zune. He says the devices can stream music from Zunepass.
Now for the camera: 5- and 8-megapixel sensors on the phones, and the Kin 2 shoots HD video. Both phones have a flash, which he says is eight times brighter than any on-phone flash to date.
Also showing “Kin studio,” a Web interface that shows all your phone activity online.
Photos taken on the device are accessible there, as well as call history and status updates. It’s all viewable on a timeline.
Also, photos are all geotagged.
10:27 am: Bach returns to the stage. Sounds like he’s going to talk about partners.
10:27 am: Bach says that Sharp built the Kin hardware, and they will be on the Verizon and Vodaphone networks.
10:28 am: John Harrobin, SVP of digital media for Verizon, takes the stage.
He gives Verizon talking points about being largest, most reliable, etc., and now talks about how Kin will fit into people’s lives.
He takes the message in another direction, away from the youth market. Now, “Kin is also for parents or anyone who is all about photos and video.” says Harrobin. He also says that Verizon will be the exclusive partner for Kin. It will release the phones next month.
10:32 am: Bach returns yet again to say that “Kin is for generation upload.”
Looks like the event is wrapping up.
10:32 am: Lights up, music up, event over.
There are Kins around the room for the media to handle. We’ll head over there now and end the liveblog.