Way back in 02, when Steve Jobs was busy taking over the world with iPods, T-Mobile and Danger Data Inc had teamed up to create a new device that, in many ways, paved the path for the iPhone. It was a unique device in many ways, and it caught the eye of the Hip Hop community early on. This had both a positive (and negative) effect. In one way, it created a large base of young followers who praised the device, thus creating what became a quite lucrative product for T-Mobile. At the same time though, people like me, who aren’t into Hip Hop, or the whole Hip Hop Scene, sort of viewed it as a flashy device that was geared towards that community, thus, not me. So while it was quite popular, it was, at the same time, limited to a certain niche of the market.
In any case, it turned out to be an innovative device none the less. It had cloud based services for everything from contacts to emails to photos and such, and could send/receive email, and browse the web (albeit slowly) with a GPRS connection and a fairly clunky WAP browser. Also, it was the first device to be sold with an unlimited data plan, and between T-Mobile’s marketing savvy, Danger’s designers & coders, and Sharp’s (and Motorola’s) hardware manufacturing abilities. The Sidekick line paved the way for today’s modern marvels, including the iPhone.
Fast forward to 2009, and 7 or so generations of Sidekicks (with various “SE” editions tied to various celebs), and the Sidekick is one of the few phones around still that isn’t really sweating the iPhone because they’ve got this huge base users who are used to GPRS or EDGE, don’t much mind a clunky WAP browser, or any other of the bells & whistles that the new wave of modern smartphones is bringing. On top of that, T-Mobile’s approach kept pricing down (i.e. slow bandwidth, lower cost hardware), and owning “an iPhone” was a bit more pricey, if not for the hardware, certainly the rate plans, and particularly, the data plans. So, amazingly so, the Sidekick is keeping up at this point despite it’s drawbacks. A year previous, in steps Microsoft, who ponies up a half a billion to buy Danger Data Corp, and that’s when the Sidekick’s end begins. On Oct 10, 2009, Microsoft is busy porting all the data over from DDC’s servers to their new home at MS Corp, and someone trips over a plug or something, and somehow, as unbelievable as it may sound, thousand’s of users data winds up permanently lost. The outage was so devastating that T-Mobile had to temporarily suspend sales, and ultimately canceled the entire product line a few months later.
Since then, T-Mobile has grandfathered all the sidekick rate plans, and, as if all that wasn’t enough, Microsoft has decided not to continue to run the Sidekick’s cloud services anymore, and have announced the shutdown of the Danger services May 31st.
T-Mobile has promised since the day they discontinued it, that the Sidekick is not gone, but being reincarnated under the Android banner. At the end of the day though, what are they going to do? Most likely, it’ll be not much more than a low end device with limited capabilities, cheap data plans with little bandwidth, and aimed entirely at the same younger crowd it’s always had success with, and basically be a cheap Android handset with a “Sidekick” form factor. Remember where you heard that…lol. So, at least the Sidekick can live on as a new fragment in the world of Android fragmentation-al bliss while we quietly sit there and listen to the air slowly bleeding out of the last tire that was the original Sidekick.