Vodafone Will Bear Microsoft’s Kin In UK, Italy, Germany, Spain

The response to Microsoft’s social-centric phone new Kin phone line-up may have been broadly underwhelming, but Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) says it will carry the range in Europe from this coming autumn.

The Kin One and Kin Two will initially be available in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, then in other countries by year’s end. But, as in the U.S., where Vodafone JV unit Verizon is the carrier, Vodafone is not stating prices or exact availability until “closer to the date of launch”.

My colleague Tricia was at the launch in San Francisco last night but concluded Kin – a son-of-Sidekick that lacks apps, games, IM, calendar and more – is too little, too late for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), which also recently rebooted its main Windows Mobile OS.

The bulbous Kin may have been “designed specifically for people who are actively navigating their social lives” – but most new smartphones entering the market lately, like those from Samsung and LG (SEO: 066570), place heavy emphasis on social features and on apps and widgets – without concentrating solely on social, and whilst adding iPhone-style touchability.

Kin to Vodafone looks like Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre to O2. The latter is the exclusive UK Pre carrier, the handset sitting somewhere between budget smartphones and high-end HTC and BlackBerry phones.