Robbie Bach: KIN Unveiling

Remarks by Robbie Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices Division
San Francisco, Calif.
April 12, 2010

ROBBIE BACH: Good morning everybody. My name is Robbie Bach. I’m President of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. On behalf of our partners, Verizon, Vodafone and Sharp, I want to thank everybody for coming this morning.

Now, this is really one of the better parts of my job, and I’m not talking about being with 100 of my closest friends in a bar at 10:00 a.m., that’s not what I’m talking about. But it is an opportunity for us to reveal what we’ve been working on in Redmond, in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, with Verizon; in Northern Japan with Sharp; and on in England with Vodafone. I guess the best way to tell the story is to really go to the customers. And we’ve spent thousands of hours with thousands of interviews with customers to really understand their needs before we wrote a single line of code.

So, let’s take a look at a video of what they think about what they want in a phone.

(Video segment.)

It’s so cool, as you can see from the video, this generation, let’s call it the social generation, really does have a point of view. They think it, they do it, and they have a mantra for it. And so, we tried to categorize and understand their needs, and I think there are sort of three things that popped for us in a big way. The first thing, as you heard in the video, their social life is their priority, number one. And when we thought about that, we kind of came up with this concept of friends, friends, and friends. Now people have, as you heard, thousands of friends, who might be people they’re friendly with; it might be people they’re actually not friendly with, but they’re people they know; and then there are people who are famous who they follow on Twitter, those are also friends in this context, and then there’s maybe 10, 15, 20 people that they deeply care about, and those are their friends.

And this whole idea of staying socially connected with all of those groups was very powerful to these people. We call them sociologists. And this social connection brings meaning to their life, and it’s what they want to do everyday.

Now, the second thing we discovered with this sociologist group is that self-expression is super-important to them. What they are, what they’re doing, they want to share the journey every day. It’s like constantly publishing a magazine of their life. Think about the data this way, on Facebook, three billion photos every month, five billion pieces of content shared every week. This is high volume. This is read all about me things that people are doing. And we call it lifecasting. They are doing this every day.

The final thing we discovered about this audience is, they really care about technology, and they’re very passionate about it. They expect their life to be a multi-screen life. They expect things to work on their phone, to work on their PC, ultimately to work on their TV. And they just want it to work where they are, when they want it to work, and how they want it to work. They have high demands from the technology, and they’re very facile with using it.

So, when you think about that, if you’re focused on social connections, you’re focused on self-expression, and you’re focused on a multi-screen digital life, how do you bring that to a phone? How do you bring that experience to a phone? As you talk to these people, they really haven’t had a phone that’s been well-designed specifically for them. And they want a phone that brings everything that’s important to their life in a completely natural way.

So, now, that brings us to, we took that data and we said, OK, what does that mean for our strategy? What are we trying to accomplish in our strategy? And if you think about Windows Phones, Windows Phone is designed to bring the important things for people together on their phone. In February, we announced Windows Phone 7, and Windows Phone 7 we really are creating the best multipurpose experience we can for a very broad audience of people, whether they’re business users or consumers, and we’re integrating that into everything that’s great that Microsoft has produced, whether that’s Bing, or Office, or Xbox, Zune, Windows Live, et cetera. So, that’s Windows Phone 7, our broader offering.

But, as we were working on Windows Phone 7, we also said, wow, we have an opportunity to go after this specific target audience, and we should pursue that. So, we took a small group of people, and some of these people are designers, some of them are business folks, obviously some engineers. And we said, explore what you can do if you went specifically after this social group.

What if we created something from the same design, and from the same core elements as Windows Phone 7, but customized it uniquely for this audience around social communications? In the words of the team they said, how do we truly, madly, and deeply understand that audience and their social needs, and how do we bring things so that they can share their life with their friends, their friends, and their friends?

So, the team worked on that, and they basically said, look, we’re going to crank social up to 11, just like we did with Xbox and social on Xbox Live. We’re going to take that experience and make it central to what we’re doing on the phone and see what comes out. So, they have crafted a phone approach that focuses in that way.

So, our strategy is really a cohesive focus around Windows Phones. Windows Phone 7, that will bring the multipurpose phone for the broad audience to market later this fall, then a new deeply social phone that will give for people what they want. Windows Phone 7 is about simplifying people’s lives. This social phone is about amplifying their life.

So, when we got to a checkpoint with this team partway through the project, they showed me what we call an experience book and a content video, and I saw that and I said this is no longer just a test, or an experiment. This is something that’s exciting. I see the passion and commitment, and I’ve seen that before. I’ve seen it with Xbox and the work we’ve done with Xbox, Xbox Live, and later this year with Project Natal. And I’ve seen it with the creativity we plowed into Windows Phone 7 and the great work we’re doing, which again we’ll ship this fall. So, I told the team, I said be absolutely laser focused, make the social connection, make the phone that brings that to life. And they’ve really done that.

So, what we’re here to announce today and to unveil today is a phone that knits together a tight community of kindred spirits, whose lives are shared and who broadcast all the time from their phone. It’s a phone that personifies, if you’ll pardon the pun, true kinship between people and technology, developers and customers. So, today I want to introduce you to the newest member of the Windows Phone family, KIN, a phone designed to navigate your social life.

Please welcome Derek Snyder, Senior Product Manager for KIN Team. He’s going to take you through the product. Derek. (Applause.)

DEREK SNYDER: I’m Derek and I’m a part of the social generation. KIN keeps up with everything that’s going on in your life, gives you a unique and easy way to share what’s going on in your world. And KIN comes in two flavors. You have the KIN ONE, and the KIN TWO. Now, some of you may have already seen photos. Some of you may have even posted photos. But, I wanted to show you how I use KIN in my daily life. So, let’s dive right in.

Now, before we start I’m actually going to hook up this live running device to my laptop here, and you’ll be able to see everything on the screen as I see it. Now, KIN helps you navigate your social life. It brings together everything and everyone you love. From the first swipe of your home screen you’re brought to all your closest friends and all your favorite stuff. It’s not a static grid of icons, it’s not a grid of applications, it’s totally personal to me. It has my picture on top. It has my latest status messages from all my social networks. It’s really easy to update that status across all the networks I’m a part of with one tap.

And the Loop is alive. We’ve got a bunch of cloud infrastructure that’s pushing down updates from all my favorite social networks, Facebook and MySpace, and Twitter, all my updates on my favorite Web sites. It’s like it’s delivering to me a magazine of my life. In fact, it’s actually so personal and revealing I had to do a bit of editing on my Loop, so as not to give away my secret passion for the Jersey Shore.

I’ll show you a little bit of interesting background, actually, about the Loop. We asked a bunch of people to participate in something called a deprivation study where we asked them to give up their phone for an entire weekend, and we had them write down everything they were thinking and feeling, and send it to us. And it was really interesting, because they said that they felt so cut off from the world, they didn’t know what was going on with their friends. But, when we asked them where they were that entire weekend, they were at a party, or they were at a show with 1,000 people.

And I feel like I’m the same way. We take this need to stay informed to the next level. The Loop is so much more than just texts or calls, it’s a constant stream of conversation and it’s always updated. So, I can join in at any time. For instance, one of the people here on site, Cat, wants waffles. If I want to comment I can pop open their status, I, too, am hungry, and comment with one tap. And just like that I’m always in the Loop.

Now, if I see something I want to share, that’s where the little green button on the bottom of the screen comes in. It’s called the KIN Spot. And it’s a totally new way to share. I can take what I want to share, pick it up, drag it down to the Spot, and drag in some people that I’d like to share it with, as well. So, it’s really easy for the first time you can bring together the thing that you want to share and the people you want to share it with, and send it off through all the technology these people already use. My friends are already getting texts and MMS, and e-mail. They can participate. I can also update to a social networking site if I’d like to. And just like that it’s out.

One of the other things, and Robbie was starting to talk about this, that people told us is that they do have these different groups of friends. I like to think about my friends in three categories. The first are my best friends. These are the people that I expect to be in the front row of my wedding.

The second group are people that I haven’t really talked to since high school, but I always know when they’re finding lost sheep on Farmville. I think you know what I’m talking about. Then finally, there are my friends. These are the people that I found on Facebook, people like Jimmy Fallon, or Oprah, or Snookie. We’re the only phone that actually keeps your close friends close, and treats them differently.

So, for instance, my friends Andrew, and Kira, and Christina, I spend a lot of time with them. When I add them into my favorites they start to get prioritized throughout the rest of the phone experience. For instance, when they’re in my favorites, I see their updates more frequently on the Loop. When I go to create a new message, or an e-mail, they are the first to show up. And when new BFFs come along, it’s really easy to organize. Sorry about that, Andrew.

As you can see, social is really a part of the DNA of this phone. If I open up my KIN contact card, you’ll see that we’ve woven all the ways that you communicate with people into one view. I’m pulling down contact information from Windows Live, from Exchange, from Facebook, from MySpace. And I can see these profiles, write on people’s wall. I don’t need to have separate applications, or separate Web sites. It’s all pulled together.

Now, to the left of my Loop are my applications. Let’s take a look at the browser. With this need to share and broadcast in mind, we’ve actually made the browsing experience totally social as well. I can pan around. I can pinch and zoom. Some of my friends are looking for something to do night while in San Francisco, and it looks like MGMP is actually playing a show around 7 o’clock. Now, if I want to share this with my friends, it’s as easy as dragging it to the top. I can tap and hold, drag it down to the Spot.

And now I want to pick a venue where I can have people meet up. I think I’ll just have them come over to The Mighty. Search is really important for us, so we have a search application that you can access by just tapping this little keyboard key. I can search my phone. I can search the Web with Bing. And I can also search near me.

So, if I search for Mighty, it will fire off a search and look around my area using built-in GPS to find all the locations. And while other phones just focus on maps and directions, we make sure that it’s so easy to share. As I’m getting all my search results in, I can find here The Mighty, drag it to the Spot, and now I’ve mixed together the Web site that has the concert information along with the location that I’d like to share.

And my friends can join in even if they’re using feature phones. They’ll get the picture of the Web site as an MMS or an e-mail. And they’ll actually get a picture of a map. So, even if they don’t have a Web connected phone, they can still see where they’re going.

Now, as we’ve shown you, social is really the fabric of this experience. And music is no different. We are the first Windows Phone to ship with Zune. I can sync and play all my favorite music, and videos, all my guilty pleasure TV is available for me at any time. I’ve brought it over effortlessly from my PC. But we also have access to the massive Zune Music Service. I love getting recommendations for new music. I ask my friends all the time. If I have a Zune Pass, I can access all of that all of the time right from here.

So, as friends are suggesting things to me, I can fire off a search, look for an album, brings it up. I can start playing it. I can start streaming it. I don’t have to worry about gigabytes, or storage cards, I have millions of songs in my pocket anytime and anywhere.

Now, social networks are obviously the cornerstone of this experience. We showed you the browsing, we’ve shown you music.

But the cornerstone really of the social networking experience is the profile picture. So, as a card-carrying member of the social generation, I will tell you we document everything. We heard a story from someone in that Project Muse, which you saw the videos from earlier. One of the gentlemen in that program told us a story about how he used to be so frustrated with his camera phone, he would actually go out at night with multiple devices. It’s not maybe the multiple devices you guys are thinking of. He would have his camera phone, and he would have a flashlight, and he would literally shine it on his friends as he’s taking pictures, because he was that frustrated with taking pictures in really darkly lit clubs. So, there has to be a better way. And we’ve invested really heavily with a camera on KIN. We have a five and an eight-megapixel lens on the two phones. We have a lumi-LED flash, which is eight times brighter than any other mobile phone flash today. And the KIN TWO shoots in HD 720p.

Now, if I open up the camera experience, of course, the capture is fantastic, but it’s really about sharing. All the photos and videos that I’ve been capturing are easily dragged into the Spot. I can drag all the videos I’ve captured as well, mix them altogether, send them off to my friends, or upload them to social sites.

Now, just as important as all those memories are to capture and share, they’re also way too important to lose. In one of our focus groups, a girl told us a story about that she dragged out an old shoe box of all of these phones that she was keeping. And it was unclear to us, why would you keep all these old junky feature phones? When she started powering them up, it became clear. These phones housed her memories. They had pictures from her graduation, from her birthday. They were totally trapped on the phones.

And what we’ve seen in our research is that the vast majority of customers will use phones to capture photos, but less than a third are able to actually pull any photos off the phones. They are literally trapped and confined there.

People don’t want to fool around with complicated extra software. I certainly don’t want to be plugging into USB anymore. And that’s why we built the KIN Studio. The KIN Studio is my phone online in any Web browser. I’ve got all my photos and videos. I’ve got all my messages and call history. I’ve got all the people I’ve been in touch with most recently. And I’ve even got things like the Loop. And just like you’ve seen on the phone, we’ve integrated the Spot throughout. So, it’s really easy to share all your photos and videos up to your favorite social network.

When people saw this, they made a really interesting observation, which his, wow, it’s like you’re capturing a journal of my life. You’ve pulled together the status messages I’m posting, the photos and videos, all my messages, and call history. I wish I had a way to go back and relive the good times. And that’s why we added this timeline. If I want to see me back in March I tap on the timeline, I open up all the photos and videos I captured during that time, all the people I’ve been in touch with, and all the messages I’ve received. And I can do this for a specific week, or a specific day. It’s really like a time machine for my life.

I can open up some of the photos and videos I’ve been capturing. I had the privilege to go to a Guinness World Record setting event, playing “Smoke On The Water.” The videos just play. I don’t need to download anything. It’s pretty cool. I can also go back in time and look at some of the photos that I’ve been capturing.

Now, since we’ve worked so closely with Verizon on this launch, I’ve had the privilege to go to the East Coast a lot. And with the East Coast comes one of my favorite things, which is New York delis, and of course, I took a picture of a hall of famer pastrami on rye. Now, I don’t know if it was just because I was too hungry, but I don’t remember for the life of me where I took this photo. I don’t remember where I got the sandwich. That’s where KIN comes to the rescue. We automatically geo-tag all of your photos and videos, and you can see them any time on a Bing Map. You can see all of your memories you captured, and all of the sandwiches you’ve eaten.

So, as you see KIN is much more than a phone. It’s an experience for the social generation. It keeps up with everything that’s going on in your world, and it makes it really easy to share. You’ve seen the social experience of browsing photos, and music. You’ve seen the KIN Loop, which is the new home screen that brings together all of your favorite people and stuff. You’ve seen the KIN Spot, which makes it easy to share almost anything with almost anyone. And you’ve seen the KIN Studio, which breaks down the barriers between your phone and your computer, and makes it really easy to share everything, no cables required.

Thanks for your time this morning. I hope you’re as excited as I am to share KIN with the world. (Applause.)

ROBBIE BACH: Thanks, Derek. Now, if you look at that entire experience it’s really quite extensive. And in order to build that kind of experience we knew from the get-go that we weren’t going to be able to do this alone, and that our approach was going to be very partner-oriented. We also knew that to do this in a tightly integrated fashion we’d have to work with just a few key partners to make sure we could bring this to market.

Certainly, when we started talking with Sharp they really impressed us with some great technology, a great approach as to how to think about the devices, and a great partnership model for us to work together. And you can see with the KIN devices, they’ve done a fabulous job of building the hardware behind KIN.

When it comes to network operators, we knew we wanted to do this on a global basis, and so Verizon and Vodafone were certainly logical choices. But, I guess for me the time when it really became clear to me that we had the right partners, ironically the meeting we had at the Consumer Electronics Show, and as some of you who go to that show know, it always happens at the same time as the BCS Championship game for football. And I’m a football fan, some of the Verizon guys were football fans, and so we wanted to watch the game and have the meeting at the same time.

Some, we had a conference room with this big 70-inch, 65-inch TV broadcasting the game, and we’re having dinner, and we were working on what ultimately became KIN. And at one point in the meeting I suddenly realized that nobody was watching the football game. It was a good game. This wasn’t a blow out. Nobody was paying attention to that. They were watching the demo of KIN, they were talking about the features, they were deeply engaged. And that’s when I knew we had a partner who was as passionate about this audience, and as passionate about this product as we are.

So, it’s my pleasure to welcome John Harrobin. He’s the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Digital Media at Verizon Wireless. And he’s going to talk about KIN and our partnership.

JOHN HARROBIN: Thanks, Robbie. I appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)

As Robbie said, we’ve come a long way since the national championship at BCS last year. And this journey really began with both of our company’s commitment to deliver something truly unique for our customers, a mobile experience built from the ground up for the way that people live and communicate.

Now, KIN is absolutely for the socially connected. It’s the phone that you use to be the first to comment on someone’s Facebook photo, and it’s the phone that you use to share anything, pictures, video, anything, with anyone from wherever you are in the country, because no matter what you’ll always be backed by the nation’s largest, and most reliable 3G network.

And what KIN does is marry the mobile phone with the computer to create a great wireless experience. So much so that I would contend that KIN utility and functionality serves a broader audience than just the socially connected. When you think about it, it’s really for anybody that’s a photo or video obsessed person, parents come to mind specifically, because not only is the video and picture capture quality remarkable, it’s better than the Flip, but also where the magic really happened for me is when I first used the phone, took some video, and then saw that over the Verizon Wireless Network, all the videos got loaded into the studio Web site waiting there for me in chronological order, and geotagged. So, this all happened without any cables to connect your PC and your phone, and without any SD cards to manage. Thousands of customers call us every month, and walk into our stores asking, how do I get these photos off my phone? KIN makes it simple for that.

So, we are very honored to be the exclusive wireless service partner for KIN in the U.S. And, with that, you’d probably expect me to rattle off states, and price plans, and all the specific purchase information details, but I’m not going to do that today. Today is about the experience of KIN. But I will tell you that you should look for KIN in our stores next month in May.

So, that’s it for now. And with that I’ll turn it back over to Robbie and say, congratulations, and Verizon is very proud to be here today. (Applause.)

ROBBIE BACH: I just want to wrap up by saying, we knew we had created something pretty special when we saw the reactions we got to people from our initial prototype. And if you’re into design or fashion, we had some people say, oh, gosh, KIN is couture software. It’s hand-tailored, it’s custom fit for generation upload, for those sociologists that I talked about.

I suppose my favorite reaction was from a young woman who said, after seeing this, I feel like finally there’s a phone that was designed for me. So, now it’s your chance. What we’ve tried to do this morning is keep the presentation relatively short. We have created spaces throughout the bar here, which is called Mighty. And if you go back to the right here, we have spaces where you can try and meet KIN yourself, work with it, have fun with it, explore it, and understand what it’s all about.

I want to thank you for taking the time to spend with us this morning, and to really explore KIN. We’re excited about introducing you personally to KIN, the phone experience that connects what you love with the people you love. Thanks very much. (Applause.)