Posted by: kurtsh | February 11, 2008

NEWS: Microsoft acquires Danger i.e. Sidekick

Y’know the Sidekick or the Hiptop?  That ‘fliptop’ PDA phone that became famous amongst young folk, and made the front page of all the fashion rags for being blinged out by Hollywood stars?  Yeah that one.

Well, we’re gonna acquire them.  Why?  Well, here’s a list of reasons why:

    Danger is decidedly a consumer device and service company and from what I understand, in the same way that we let the Xbox & Zune groups grow organically and on their own with minimal interference, we intend to do the same thing in building a stronger consumer-oriented mobile devices group.Slide device dynamic

    Some in the company might tell you that ‘we’ve always had a consumer focus’ but personally, I think that’s like saying, Paris Hilton has always had a brain.  After all, it’s not much good unless you demonstrate that you know how to use it. 

    Here’s a short list of the things that the Windows Mobile product group has focused on over the past few releases:
    – Rights Management protection for Exchange-based email
    – Certificate Registration for S-MIME support
    – Group Policy integration for lockdown & restricting the UI
    – Real time Device ROM & Flash card encryption
    – Windows Update for security patching Mobile Devices
    – Office Mobile for compatibility with desktop Word, Excel, & Powerpoint

    Meanwhile the browser, the media player, the Today page, the SMS/MMS messaging functionality… all that stuff has gone untouched. Real friggin’ consumer oriented ‘eh?  Don’t get me wrong – this is really important technology for corporations and I’m really glad that they’ve incorporated into the platform to ultimately compete with Blackberry, but it sure as hell ain’t consumer-oriented.  So to the folks in the product group:  Don’t ever go trying to say that any of our focus in the mobile space has been even remotely consumer-oriented.  It hasn’t been.

  2. SERVICE-DELIVERY MODELDanger Solution Components
    Danger’s value isn’t so much in their device design, although laypeople might think so.  It’s really in their mobile services-revenue model and you can tell when you go to their web site:  You really can’t find any photos of the Sidekick/Hiptop anywhere because that’s not the emphasis of their company.

    Danger provides online services to their handset users that are oriented around ‘social networking’.  Stuff that goes beyond lame peer-to-peer MMS video/photo transmission and SMS texting.  Things like mobile Facebook sites, shared contacts/calendars/document repositories/photos/favorites/lists amongst friends, on-the-fly event invitations for adhoc party planning, multi-party photo/video transmission feeds…. you get the picture.  These are areas that I personally don’t believe Apple’s iPhone has investments in… but equally important is that I don’t think Apple understands these areas in the same way that Danger does.  While Apple’s definitely a great consumer company, it goes far deeper that just fit-and-finish which is essentially what has propelled the iPod & the iPhone to prominence.  It’s cultural & ever changing – almost like fashion. 

    And it’s clear, they’re very far away from attaining that level of flexibility and agility, being that their orientation from day one was clearly not around the device’s networking capabilities with a lack of video transmission, GPRS networking, very poor email support, etc.  These are all fundamental to being an agile device.

    Danger also has preexisting relationships with mobile operators in providing services to T-Mobile, Cingular, BoostMobile, and other providers.  And it’s marketing engine is clearly targeted at the core of the youth market.  I suspect one of their limiting parameters has been the lack of capital to combat the vaunted iPhone marketing engine.  Now, that’s not so much of a problem for them.



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