T-Mobile is eliminating the Danger data service used by its Sidekick phones, essentially weeding the devices from its lineup. Danger is a Microsoft subsidiary.
T-Mobile is administering a coup de grace to its Sidekick phones, with plans
to shut down data service by May 31. While the devices will remain capable of
making calls, they will thereafter lack the features that once made the
Sidekick franchise so popular.
Microsoft subsidiary Danger provides the Sidekick's data service.
"T-Mobile will provide offers for our Sidekick customers before May 31, 2011, to help make
an easy transition from their existing Sidekick device to a new device," a
T-Mobile spokesperson wrote in a March 1 e-mail to eWEEK.
"To ensure the best possible transition for our loyal Sidekick customers,"
the spokesperson continued, "an enhanced Web tool is available on
myT-Mobile.com to easily export their personal data, including contacts,
photos, calendar, notes, to-do lists, and bookmarks, from the Danger service to
a new device, computer, or designated e-mail account."
T-Mobile is also offering an application via the Sidekick Catalog that will
export personal data to the Sidekick's memory card, where it can presumably be
transferred to a new T-Mobile device. To make that transfer happen, Sidekick
owners will need to bring their device, along with the memory card, into a
In 2009, server failure at Danger wiped out personal data for a large number
of Sidekick owners, undermining the brand and forcing T-Mobile to temporarily
suspend sales of the phones. That data included contacts, calendar entries,
lists and photos. As Microsoft engineers scrambled to repair the damage, irate
customers took to T-Mobile's message boards to complain.
Backed against the wall, T-Mobile responded with a two-pronged public
relations front, offering compensation to users-in the form of a free month of
data service, along with a $100 gift card-and the possibility that their data
might be retrieved. "Microsoft/Danger continues to work on preserving platform
stability and restoring all services for our Sidekick customers," read a
posting at the time on the T-Mobile Forums. "Recent efforts indicate the
prospects of recovering some lost content may now be possible."
At the time, the whole incident risked damaging the public perception of the
cloud as a safe place for storing personal information. That could have ended
badly for Microsoft, which at the time was beginning to make substantial
strategic bets on cloud services. The Sidekick fiasco, however, did little to
ultimately dissuade customers from purchasing mobile devices and the cloud
services dependent on them.
Those devices and services remain popular, but it looks like the Sidekick is
poised to enter the dustbin of tech history.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.