T-Mobile Begins Selling Sidekick Again After Server Outage

T-Mobile announced it would begin selling its Sidekick smartphone again, more than a month after it was forced to suspend sales following a massive data failure on the servers holding user information. The servers were run by Microsoft subsidiary Danger, and Microsoft engineers scrambled after the outage to restore Sidekick user data starting with contacts. T-Mobile had offered affected Sidekick users a gift card and a month of free data service, compensation judged as too little, too late by many users on the T-Mobile Forums.

T-Mobile will begin selling models of its Sidekick smartphone again, more than a month after being forced to pull the devices due to a massive server outage that deleted user data.

Early in October, a hardware issue on servers run by Microsoft subsidiary Danger wiped the personal data from nearly 800,000 Sidekick users' phones. In the wake of that incident, T-Mobile had listed the Sidekick smartphones as "Temporarily Out of Stock" on its Website. The general assumption was that sales would be suspended until service was restored.

"T-Mobile is pleased to announce that Sidekick sales have resumed," a T-Mobile spokesperson wrote in a statement e-mailed to eWEEK on Nov. 17. "New pricing for the Sidekick LX 2009 will be $149.99 with a two-year contract and the Sidekick 2008 will be $49.99 with a two-year contract."

Microsoft has been busily working to restore Sidekick user data, releasing a recovery tool on Oct. 20 for T-Mobile Sidekick users through the My T-Mobile Website that would allow them to restore their contacts. At that time, Microsoft promised that it would work to restore users' photographs, notes, to-do lists, marketplace data and high scores.

But the contact-restoration process was not an entirely smooth one, with many Sidekick users complaining on the T-Mobile forums that their information had only been partially restored. As of Nov. 17, customers on the forums were still voicing displeasure over issues such as missing photos or receiving other peoples' photos on their devices.

However, the situation overall seems more hopeful than on Oct. 10, when T-Mobile issued a statement suggesting that Sidekick users' information had been irretrievably sent to data heaven: "based on Microsoft/Danger's latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device ... almost certainly has been lost as a result of server failure at Microsoft/Danger."

To make up for the widespread destruction, T-Mobile offered Sidekick customers a $100 T-Mobile gift card and a month of free data service, although users posting messages on the T-Mobile Forum seemed to generally find the offer insufficient.

Microsoft's experience with the Sidekick data could affect how it potentially introduces "Project Pink," a branded smartphone rumored to roll out sometime in early 2010. While Microsoft has categorically refused to comment on the existence of the project, a variety of blogs and rumor sites have suggested that a combined Microsoft and Danger team has been developing two smartphones with a sliding form-factor.