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Microsoft's Kin gets lower price spot

Amid what would appear to be sluggish sales, the Microsoft-designed phone gets a price cut, with the cost of the higher-end model being cut in half, to $49.

Verizon has cut the price of both Microsoft Kin models. The Kin Two, seen here, drops from $99 to $49. Bonnie Cha/CNET

With Microsoft's Kin not exactly flying off store shelves, Verizon has cut the prices of the youth-oriented social-networking phone.

Despite a significant TV ad campaign, the phones have gotten comparatively scant attention since their launch. The Kin, designed to target a similar demographic as the Sidekick, has faced steep competition from the iPhone and other smartphones, which don't cost any more per month and offer the ability to run thousands of applications.

Over the weekend, Verizon quietly cut the price of both Kins. The lower-end Kin One dropped from $49 to $29, while the Kin Two went from $99 to $49. Those prices require users to sign a new two-year contract and agree to a $29 or higher monthly data plan, in addition to voice service.

Microsoft declined to comment on Kin sales, although they appear to be below even the company's rather modest expectations. A worker at one big-city Verizon Wireless store said the Kin is being outsold there not only by Droid smartphones, but also by older Palm Pre devices.

When I tried it out last month, I found the device to have a few cool features--namely the PC-based Kin Studio feature and the built-in Zune player, which allows Zune Pass subscribers to stream the songs of their choice over the Web. However, the device also has more than its fair share of quirks, including the lack of a calendar and the fact that Twitter users can't easily reply to Twitter posts, re-tweet items, or send direct messages.

Responding to a commenter raising the Twitter issues, as well as concerns about restarts and battery life, a Microsoft worker said on a company forum that a mid-summer software update should address some of those issues. A Microsoft representative would not elaborate on the company's software update plans.