Microsoft Unveils Twin Kin Phones

The software giant is charting a new course for mobile with the launch of social phones.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report unveiled two Kin phones made by Sharp and targeted for sale by Verizon (VZ) - Get Report and Vodafone (VOD) - Get Report.

The phones -- Kin One and Kin Two -- are aimed at social networking fans and continue in the tradition of the Sidekick phones that were big with texting youths. Both phones feature touchscreens with slide-out keypads. The Kin Two has a full Qwerty keyboard and an 8-megapixel camera.

>>Follow our live blog of the Microsoft Kin launch

Microsoft had been working on the youth-oriented phones for years under the name 'Project Pink' and the Zune phones.

The move marks Microsoft's belated reentry into the mobile market and the first step in what is expected to be a bold new bet on smartphones later this year with the Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Microsoft desperately needs to get back in the mobile phone game after rivals like

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

,

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

and

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

have taken most of the smartphone business in the past three years.

Microsoft, as TheStreet

first reported

, is working with at least one hardware manufacturer --

Asus

-- on a touchscreen phone that it will sell directly to consumers, similar to its Xbox effort in video games and Zune media players.

Microsoft shares were up a nickel to $30.39 as the announcement was made Monday.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York