Call us crazy, but here’s our theory about the week-long Sidekick data outage experienced by Sidekick users as their Sidekick network (really the Danger network) went down.
First, it’s important to remember that the Danger network was acquired by Microsoft last year.
Now, even though Microsoft has owned the Sidekick and its Danger network for more than a year and a half, so far as we can tell, they have done nothing with it. Moreover, by last count, there are only a million or so Sidekick users. That’s not really a whole lot compared to the potential market for mobile devices. In fact, it’s tiny. So we are given pause to ask ourselves:
“Why did they acquire it?”
Next, let’s think about the fact that Microsoft already has a fairly robust mobile platform of their own (Windows Mobile) and that there is the ever-swirling rumour of a Microsoft Zune Phone. Of course, the rumours of a Zune Phone have been around for ages, and even Barrons said that it would be out nearly a year ago – and yet it’s still not here. But that doesn’t mean that a Zune phone isn’t coming.
When you put all of these things together, what we come up with is the belief that Microsoft is intending to roll out their own mobile device (Zune or otherwise), and that the acquisition of Danger’s Sidekick network was not to keep offering the Sidekick, but rather to acquire the technology and the network (and perhaps the relationship with T-Mobile), rather than having to roll their own for whatever their next mobile project is.
If this is the case, embarassing though the Sidekick network outage may have been for Microsoft (and they were quick to try to distance themselves from the outage, telling PC World that “it wasn’t its own technology to blame in the Sidekick data loss, but rather Danger’s technology, which the Redmond company inherited when it acquired Danger in 2008 for $500 million,”) it may not really be that big a deal to them.
After all, a million users is a drop in the bucket and, from a business perspective, not really worth the effort. It may even be that the only reason they are still servicing the Sidekick at all is that there is a contractual obligation to T-Mobile to keep the Sidekick and Sidekick network up and running until a certain date.
If Microsoft acquired Danger not to service the Sidekick – or perhaps not even to continue supporting the Sidekick – but rather to service their own mobile device, if and when it arrives, then Sidekick users really are on the way to being orphans (if they aren’t already).
Certainly many of them have felt that way over the course of the past week – you can read the comments about the network outage by frustrated Sidekick users here.
So, our theory is that the Sidekick is going to either be phased out, or simply relegated to “unsupported”, while a new Zune phone or other Microsoft device takes its place using the Danger platform. And last week’s outage? Just an example of the sort of “support” that Sidekick users can expect in the future.