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InformationWeek Daily - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008

Editor's Note

What Will Microsoft Do With Danger?

Microsoft on Monday said it has acquired mobile phone software developer Danger for an undisclosed sum. What does Microsoft plan to do with Danger and its popular line of Sidekick smartphones?

Danger's smartphone platform, known as the T-Mobile Sidekick in the U.S., was pretty revolutionary for its time. The device has remained popular with teens, and Danger has a similar partnership with Fido, a Rogers Wireless subsidiary.

While the Sidekick no longer seems as cutting edge as it did a few years, Danger has done a good job of updating the platform and keeping it relevant.

Danger is designed with one user group in mind: Teens. The device is still the smartphone for younger wireless users, offering easy-to-use e-mail, IM, and Web access in a relatively affordable device and service plan.

Now what will Microsoft do with the Danger platform? Will Microsoft put Windows Mobile on the Danger platform? I echo The Boy Genius Report by saying I sure hope not:

"Ugh! Let's just hope the Danger OS doesn't go away (we doubt it will). This actually might make sense, though. With Microsoft in the mix, Danger can now concentrate on the software and integrating new features like 3G, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Also Microsoft is said to be handling the backend system, so we shouldn't be plagued by the shoddy service and outages anymore. Anyone at all excited about this?"

I suspect Microsoft has two plans in mind for Danger's technology. First, Microsoft will use Danger to gain more teen and youth mobile market share. The company will try to expand Danger's reach into other markets by incorporating Danger's software with new handset form factors. Microsoft will also use its existing carrier partnerships to get the Sidekick into other carrier networks.

Second, I think Microsoft will take some of the things that Danger does well, like Web browsing and messaging, and incorporate that functionality into Windows Mobile. I expect Microsoft to try to make Windows Mobile look more like Danger, not the other way around.

Sure, I think Microsoft will do a few obvious things, like bundling MSN Messenger and its existing mobile e-mail services with Danger smartphones. But overall, I think Microsoft will borrow more from Danger's innovative user experience than it will try to cram legacy Windows Mobile functionality into the popular device. At least I hope so.

What do you think? Any Danger fans out there? Are you excited by this deal? Or are you afraid Microsoft will ruin the Sidekick?

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.

Stephen Wellman
[email protected]

Quote of The Day

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all." -- Sam Ewing

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