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We still don't know the cause of the problem that caused thousands of Sidekick users to lose contacts, photos, appointments and more. Microsoft has bee mum on the issue, which is a bad thing. Full disclosure wins more respect from interested parties than silence, but that is the subject of another blog post. The Sidekick brand is almost surely doomed because of this, but will Windows Mobile be affected as well given both platforms share the same owner?

Ed Hansberry

October 14, 2009

3 Min Read

We still don't know the cause of the problem that caused thousands of Sidekick users to lose contacts, photos, appointments and more. Microsoft has bee mum on the issue, which is a bad thing. Full disclosure wins more respect from interested parties than silence, but that is the subject of another blog post. The Sidekick brand is almost surely doomed because of this, but will Windows Mobile be affected as well given both platforms share the same owner?The connection in the consumer's mind between Windows Mobile and the Sidekick is tenuous at best. Microsoft just purchased Danger 18 months ago and to my knowledge, didn't go out and rebrand any of the devices with their logo. They all still show T-Mobile's branding on them. I am not sure the average consumer knows that Microsoft owns the product, or that Danger created it. To many, that is a T-Mobile phone.

Additionally, the target market is very different. I cannot imagine too many people are standing around in T-Mobile stores trying to decide between a WinMo device or a Sidekick. They are very different. The Sidekick is aimed at younger buyers and is hip, cool and trendy. WinMo phones are generally aimed at enterprise users or are considered a generic device. Furthermore, the devices themselves are quite different. The Sidekick is meant to be tethered to a server. There are huge advantages to this. If a teen loses their device, they just replace it and resync their data. The downside, of course, is if the server assumes room temperature, then the device is a nice paperweight. WinMo devices, on the other hand, don't rely on the cloud. All of their data is stored locally on the device. They can be connected to an Exchange server, but if the server dies, no data on the device is lost. It just no longer has a working connection. With third party tools, that data can be saved. For other users that just use Outlook, their data is safe and sound in a PST file on their PC. Again, of the PC or device dies, you just replace one and resync. Nothing lost. What is unfortunate for Microsoft is this train wreck happened to coincide with the launch week of WinMo 6.5, and is giving some pause. How reliable are the backups to My Phone for example? Microsoft, as of yet, has given no details on what happened with the Sidekick servers, so we don't know if this is isolated or if the rest of Microsoft's cloud services are scrambling to put steps in place to prevent this same failure from wiping out the data they store. With services like My Phone and the Windows Marketplace for Mobile being pitched alongside 6.5 devices, you can be sure carriers are asking Microsoft these questions. Through no fault of its own, T-Mobile is taking the heat for the Sidekick meltdown. Other carriers want to be sure services that are bundled with the phones they are selling are near bulletproof. The bottom line though, I don't think WinMo will be affected much at all by this. It is too distantly related to the Sidekick to be of any consequence, and rightly so. It is a totally different product.

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