Kin is not designed as a horizontal platform like Android, iPhone or even Windows Phone 7. It's targeted at a younger demographic with an emphasis on social communicators. Its feature set isn't designed for the mass market and that's exactly what might make it a success. To me, there are three important take aways.
First, mature platforms and markets fragment. This is true of just about all markets. There are features, designs and other factors that all target different users and demographics. It's something that's just starting to happen in the mobile space and Microsoft is wise to get ahead of this curve. If one-size-fit all, and the only focus was on utilitarian functions we'd all drive Honda Civics, wear Timex watches and use BIC pens. We don't -- and the reasons that we don't are what make Kin look very attractive.
Second: telling this story will be hard. I've already seen comments talking about what's "missing" from the Kin platform. While I usually tend to make faces at vendors who tell me I "don't get their products," in this case, Microsoft is correct. Kin is designed and targeted for a specific set of users, and if you don't "get it," it might just not be for you. That said, lots of folks looking at it, commenting on it and reviewing it are going to be looking at Kin through their personal lenses. That's a mistake, but it's something Microsoft will need to deal with as they tell their story to their target audience.
Finally, the intersection of mobile and social networks is here. Few devices embody the intersection of mobile and social networks as well as Kin One and Kin Two do. The ability to tie networks together into a cohesive universal view in a way that's not cluttered or look like a user experience suffering from attention deficit disorder is a breakthrough. The result is a new type of user that's able to move from communication to collaboration, and extend that conversation from one-to-one to one-to-many. The implications are huge as the social interactions create trusted and real time information flows that are contextually relevant. The net result? A new type of user that is empowered to make fewer mistakes, creating a larger global and social memory that can be tapped into anytime and anywhere.
Kin shows Microsoft is taking mobile seriously. As a complement to Windows Phone 7, it's a bold move to capture the thought and leadership for an important demographic. By creating a new user experience centered around social communication and interaction beyond voice or even text messages, Microsoft has upped the stakes in mobility and raised the bar for the next generation of devices and leveraged platforms.