Social Phones: Will Kin Devour C3?


Mobile-phone makers are betting that the new breed of social phones, or smartphones designed with social media features, will quickly become best-sellers.

As consumers spend more and more time connected to each other, social networking software built into handsets is the smart way to go.

Nokia is bringing three social phones to market in the third quarter of this year. With the Nokia C3, for instance, you can post comments, upload photos, and update your Facebook status.

Microsoft, however, hopes to dominate the category with its new Kin smartphone brand.[more]

As John Starkweather, who heads up Kin’s marketing, told Bloomberg Businessweek, “You’ll see a significant marketing campaign that’ll rival, in the U.S., anybody.”

The Kin offers social networking abilities, including dragging Web photos to the handset screen, and streamed updates from social sites onto your home phone. (Engadget offers a sneak peek here.) The tagline: “Kin helps you navigate your social life. It brings together everything and everyone you love.”

“We are looking to merge your phone with the social network,” counters Nokia’s marketing director Mark Thomas. The C3 is also equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, a two-megapixel camera, 8GB of storage capability with a microSD card, and a 2.4-inch screen.

Motorola, meanwhile, is offering four “social phones” that merge address books with social networking sites such as MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook, and display e-mails, texts, and social messaging in one box. They are targeting their appeal to a broad age range. 

Motorola’s DEVOUR model promises, “Your Social Life, Protected,” as it contains a GPS tracking and remote data wipe in case the phone is lost or stolen.

Also, you can add BlackBerry’s just announced Pearl 3G to the list.

Phone manufacturers are betting their “social phones” will take a bite out Apple’s iPhone which reportedly doubled its sales to 8.75 million units in the first quarter.

Scott Anderson, director of mobile phone sales for Best Buy (which will be carrying the Kin), commented, “The stars are starting to align here. The best-selling handsets [today] have the best social networking on them.”

One daunting question remains: as we all become increasingly social, carrying our personal networks in the palms of our hands, will data networks be able to support all that social interaction?