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April 12, 2010

Naming experts feeling kinship for Microsoft's Kin mobile device

Posted on Mon Apr 12 2010

Kin

Microsoft seems to have a penchant for one-syllable product names these days. First there was Zune, then Bing and now Kin. The latter, which is the company's latest mobile device (which was actually made by Sharp Electronics; Microsoft created the software), appears to be a hit with naming gurus, who point to Microsoft's mixed track record in this area. Eli Altman, director of strategy for A Hundred Monkeys, dubbed Kin a "pretty good name," though he said it sounds a bit like "they were going for Kindle, but stopped halfway." Athol Foden, president of Brighter Naming, said it's "short and sweet and—a change for Microsoft—has some human emotion going on." Foden wasn't as big a fan of Bing, ("What's a bing?" he asked), but was impressed that Microsoft nailed down a three-letter word, a coup in an age where all the short names seem to have been taken. John Hoeppner, president of NameQuest, agreed that the Kin name was short and easy to pronounce, but he was less enthralled than the others: "Kin doesn't seem to differentiate the Microsoft product offering from existing telecom products." Does any of this matter, though? After all, lots of people snickered at the iPad's obvious feminine product connotations, but no one was chuckling last week when the product launched. "The only name Apple really cares about is Apple," said Altman. "Everyone thinks [the iPod and the iPhone] are great names, but in these situations, a name really only serves to get you out of the starting gate."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

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