Remember the KINs? Microsoft's high-end feature phones/kind-of-smartphones that were killed off only six weeks after being launched are coming back for a second go-round with Verizon, although things have changed slightly since the phones were canned in June. The biggest complaint that people had with the KINs was that they required a full-on, $30/month smartphone data plan, even though Verizon referred to them as "enhanced feature phones" that were targeted at teens. When they are relaunched, possibly as early as this quarter, the KINs will require no data plan whatsoever. This could be good for sales, although it also means that KIN-specific features that require data, like the Loop, have been axed. One big feature of the KINs has remained intact, though: the Zune Pass functionality is still alive on the KINs and can be used over WiFi.
This news surprised just about everyone, especially considering that the KINs had one of the shortest-lived retail stays in recent memory. It's not clear what Microsoft and Verizon is aiming to do with a KIN relaunch: are they actually reviving the devices or are they just clearing out inventory? Either way, I'd say that the devices have a decent shot at becoming popular again, but I'm not going to hold my breath. There are a ton of customers that have a jonesing for a smartphone without a data plan, and while it's tough to call the KINs "smartphones," they're still pretty capable when compared to other feature phones on the market. Let's just hope that Microsoft and Verizon get the pricing right with the KINs. Not being forced onto a data plan is nice, but it'd be even better to see the phones relaunch at $0 for the KIN One and $50 for the KIN Two. How about it, guys?