Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) apparently dabbles in witchcraft, because the carrier just brought Microsoft's Kin phones back from the dead.
The operator said it will once again offer the devices, which were unceremoniously discontinued at the end of June just weeks after launching. The devices, which focus on social networking, will be offered as feature phones that will not require a data plan--a reversal of Verizon's initial launch of the devices with the requirement of a $30-per-month smartphone data plan.
The Kin One-m will go for $19.99 with a two-year contract and the higher-powered Kin Two-m will retail for $49.99 with a two-year contract. Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney said new Kin customers who want to access data can use WiFi, pay $1.99 per MB, or subscribe to a $15/150 MB plan or a $30 unlimited data plan.
The Kin One-m is a clamshell phone with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard and a touchscreen display. The phone has a 5-megapixel camera with flash and 4 GB of internal memory. The Kin Two-m also has a slide-out Qwerty keyboard and touchscreen, and is similar in design to the Sidekick devices made by Microsoft's Danger subsidiary. The Kin Two-m has an 8-megapixel camera, shoots HD video, and offers stereo speakers and 8 GB of internal memory. Both devices run Nvidia's Tegra processor.
While it is not unprecedented for carriers to bring back products that had been taken off shelves, the Kin phones were, by most accounts, largely a failure. The first time around they suffered from a variety of setbacks: expensive data plans; a lack of enthusiasm internally at Microsoft for the project; and a target demographic that never really understood what the product was about.
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