Corrected: Verizon kicks off sales of Microsoft’s Kin

(Corrects second bulletpoint, and first and second paragraphs to show that online sales start Thursday, May 6)

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Verizon Wireless will start to sell Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O: ) Kin phones on Thursday as both companies look to do battle with Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) by catering to savvy young phone users who are obsessed with following what their friends are doing online.

The biggest U.S. wireless operator will start online sales on Thursday for the two phones, the companies said today, which were announced on April 13, and it plans to start selling them in stores one week later.

The Kin One — a small phone with a touchscreen, a slide-out keyboard and a square shape that resembles a cosmetics compact — will sell for $49.99 to consumers who sign a service contract with Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications (VZ.N: ) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L: ).

The Kin Two — a bigger rectangular-shaped phone with a slide-out keyboard and touchscreen controls — will sell for $99.99 to contract customers.

Both phones have very similar functionality, but the Kin Two has a much bigger screen and an eight-megapixel camera while the Kin One’s camera takes five-megapixel photographs.

Both devices which are to be manufactured by Sharp Corp (6753.T: ) are exclusive to Verizon Wireless and represent a big step for Microsoft, which has mostly stuck to selling its mobile software to other phone makers.

The Kin devices are landing just months before Microsoft unveils its latest software Windows Phone 7, which the company says will target a broader cellphone market.

The new phones should help Microsoft compete with Apple and rivals Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ), whose Android phone software has gained a lot of ground in the last year.

However, the Kin will also put it into direct competition with its phone software customers, which include HTC Corp (2498.TW: ) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS: ).

Investment

(Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Matthew Lewis)

Corrected: Verizon kicks off sales of Microsoft’s Kin